SERMON ON THE MOUNT: REVENGE
We’re learning about the Sermon on the Mount. It’s Jesus’ most famous sermon! It’s called the Sermon on the Mount because he stood up on a hill—or mountain—to preach. Today we’re learning that Jesus preached about how God helps us love our enemies.
SUNDAY SCHOOL WORSHIP
God helps us love our enemies. But that’s not always easy to do! Let’s see how one frustrated neighbor deals with a loud, obnoxious neighbor.
Belle’s loud music really annoyed Button. What annoys you?
• How do you react when people do those things?
• Button made a false accusation just because he didn’t like Belle. How can our opinions of people change the way we see them?
Sometimes when we decide we don’t like someone, all we see are bad things about that person. That’s what happened to Button! But in the end, Button realized Belle wasn’t as bad as he thought. God helps us love our enemies and look for the good in them.
Let’s begin our Bible time with a simple card game.
Here's what you will need:
Have family members pair up. Each person will get 10 playing cards to play this game.
Ask: • How did the rules of this game make it hard to win?
• In our game, when your opponent took one of your cards, you always took one of theirs. Sometimes we do that in life—when someone is mean to us, we’re mean back. What’s wrong with that approach to life?
Say: This game was certainly fair—but kind of pointless! As soon as your opponent took one of your cards, you could take one back. Most people like things to be fair. In fact, Jesus quoted a law that talked about that.
You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.'
The people Jesus was talking to thought this was a good law. It kept things fair. But when we’re talking about getting even with someone, there’s no end to the revenge!
Imagine that a friend does something mean, so you get back at that person. Then they get back at you. And you get back at them. What would happen to your friendship?
Like our game, the mean things could go on forever. So Jesus had a different way to live.
But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too.
Play a Card Game Unfairly
Say: Let’s play again. This time, whichever partner is older won’t take cards. Instead, when your opponent takes a card, give that person another one! Instead of focusing on your cards, focus on being extra kind to your opponent.
Allow time for the younger partner in each pair to obtain all 20 cards.
Ask: • What did you think of this round of the game?
• How could something being unfair actually end up being better?
This game wasn’t fair at all. But it was loving, at least on the part of the older player. Jesus’ way won’t always be fair to us. But instead of focusing on getting even when someone hurts us, we can focus on showing love. That’s because God helps us love our enemies.
I do want to clear up one thing: When Jesus said to let someone slap your other cheek, he wasn’t saying you should let a bully beat you up. Jesus was using something called hyperbole (hi-PER-buh-lee). Hyperbole is when you use extreme, exaggerated statements to make a point. If someone actually slaps your cheek, you don’t need to keep letting that person hit you. Jesus’ point was simply that we should do the unexpected, that we should go above and beyond to show love instead of getting revenge.
The problem with revenge is that it often just makes a bigger mess. And then the people who we got back at want to get back at us again…and it just keeps going. It ends up hurting us just as much as the other person.
That’s why God helps us love our enemies. But what does that really look like? Does it mean letting bullies beat us up? Does it mean sitting there and taking it when someone is making fun of us? If not, what can we safely do to show love to our enemies?
Walk an Extra Mile
Let’s look at another way Jesus put this same idea.
Have you ever heard the phrase “go the extra mile”? What does it mean to you?
The phrase “go the extra mile” is used a lot today, and it started with Jesus. Check it out.
Matthew 5:41 - If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles.
In Jesus’ day, there was a law that said a Roman soldier could pick out anyone and force that person to carry all the soldier’s gear for a whole mile. Jews really didn’t like that rule, because not only did it interrupt their day, but the Roman soldiers were their enemies! But God helps us love our enemies, so Jesus said to walk twice as far for that Roman soldier.
Let’s try it. I’ll be the Roman soldier!
Demand that family members each carry an armload of books around the room for 30 seconds. Count down from 30, and then say: Keep carrying them for another 30 seconds! Let families decide if they want to do twice what you demanded.
Ask: • Imagine I’m your enemy instead of your friend. How do you feel about carrying all my stuff so far?
• Now that you’ve experienced that, what would you say it means to “go the extra mile”? What would it look like to go the extra mile for someone who’s mean to you?
Say: God helps us love our enemies. Instead of getting revenge, we can go above and beyond to be generous and loving to our enemies. Here’s a summary of what Jesus had to say about getting even.
Matthew 5:42 - Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow.
Draw an Enemy
That’s what Jesus said about taking revenge on our enemies. But Jesus went further than that in talking about how God helps us love our enemies! So as we read on, you’ll need an enemy.
Have each person draw a simple stick figure to represent an enemy. (It’s okay if younger kids’ drawings look like scribbles.) Encourage people to draw a very simple figure and not try to draw someone specific who others might recognize. However, people can have a specific person in mind who is often mean to them.
We all have things we’d like to say to our enemies. Here’s your chance to do that. With your finger (not your pen), “write” on your paper what you’d like to say to your enemy. What you write will be invisible.
Allow time. Since kids aren’t actually spelling, it’s okay for kids who don’t know how to write to do their own finger writing!
Most people would expect us to say mean things to our enemies. But Jesus reminded us that God helps us love our enemies. Here’s what he said to do.
Matthew 5:43-45 - You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.
Pray for an Enemy
Let’s try praying for our enemies. Using your pen now, write a prayer all around the stick figure enemy. Don’t write a prayer about your enemy, asking God to change your enemy. Instead, pray for your enemy, for your enemy to see God’s love. If you can’t write, draw hearts and pray that the person would see God’s love.
God helps us love our enemies. He can help us see people the way he sees them. He can help us show love instead of getting even. And often, as we regularly pray for our enemies, he can help change our hearts so we see them as he does. Let’s close by silently reading the prayers you just wrote.
Dear God, help us love our enemies. Help us see everyone the way you do! Help us focus more on showing love than on getting even.
In Jesus’ name, amen.
Thanks for joining us for online Sunday School! See you next week!
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