Leader guide cover art

Life Goes On

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Dive (6-8)Year 1Unit 6 (Who Is the Church?)Session 4

Life Goes On

Jesus brings new life now and will one day raise our bodies to live forever with him.
Faith Nurture Goals
  • Wonder at Jesus' proclamation that he is the “resurrection and the life.”
  • Reflect on our experiences of death and our own death and new life.
  • Be comforted that the new life we have in Christ will continue after death.
Memory Challenge

Leader Reflection

Preparing to Tell God's Story

The Apostles' Creed closes with an astounding affirmation of faith: we believe in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. As we bury our dead loved ones, or as we face the certainty of our own deaths, we fragile mortals cling to this promise.

First, notice that this is about the body. It isn't just a faith in the immortality of the soul. The pagan Greeks and Romans all believed that the immortal soul lived on after death. And they wished good riddance to the body, that rotting sack of flesh that only kept us back from enjoying the life of pure spirit.

No, the Christian faith is about stuff, about this creation, and about our bodies as well as our souls. Salvation would not be complete without the redemption of our bodies (Rom. 8:23). And we would be incomplete as human beings without them.

And when the creed adds that we believe in "life everlasting," it's saying that resurrection life is not merely an unending version of life as we experience it today but a whole new quality of life, a life that is radiant with glory and love and holiness---the abundant life. This everlasting life begins in our baptism and will burst into fullness in the resurrection.

In John's gospel Jesus climactic miracle (or "sign" as John calls it) is a story of resurrection that paves the way for his own. Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha, are close friends of Jesus. While he is away, they send word to him that Lazarus is very ill, expecting that Jesus will come to heal him as he has so many others. Strangely, Jesus waits. As he explains, he is ruled by one great aim---the glory of God---and that will be the climax of this story.

When he does finally come, Lazarus is already dead and buried. The sisters are understandably upset with Jesus: "If you had been here, my brother would not have died" (John 11: 21). Still there was a glimmer of faith: "even now God will give you whatever you ask" (v. 22). It is later in this moving conversation that Jesus makes the ultimate declaration about himself: "I am the resurrection and the life" (v. 25).

As they make their way to the grave, Jesus shows deep emotion in the face of death---sighing and tears. Finally, in one of the most dramatic moments of the gospels, he stands in front of the grave itself. "Take away the stone!" he demands. And then there's a line I've always loved, especially as rendered in the old King James: "Lord, he stinketh." Here we face the true nature of death. It stinks! But here is the Lord Jesus standing before the stink of our mortal life and demanding, "Lazarus, come out!" And Lazarus, wrapped in grave clothes, stumbles out of the darkness of death into the light of resurrection.

Now it's important to understand that Lazarus was not raised from the dead in the same way Jesus would be raised, or as we will be. He would die again, after all. This was more a resuscitation than a resurrection. But then Jesus had said, "I am the resurrection and the life" (emphasis added). True and eternal life comes to us as a result of Jesus' resurrection. We die and rise in him. Still, this climactic miracle demonstrated more than any other that Jesus had come to deliver us, body and soul, from sin and death.

  • Why did Jesus stay where he was when the sisters sent word about Lazarus?

  • What did Mary and Martha think Jesus would or could do?

  • Why was Jesus so overcome with grief and tears?

  • Why do you think John made sure to remind us that the body was smelly?

  • Understandably, the group will have lots of questions about Jesus’ delay. Let them struggle with Jesus’ own explanation (vv. 4, 14).

  • Invite the group to wonder about the emotion that flows through the story, and especially the emotions of Jesus.


Step 1 Gathering for God's Story

  • body smart
  • picture smart
  • ​​people smart

To set a lighthearted tone before embarking on a serious topic, challenge your group to a “mummy” competition. Break into smaller groups and provide rolls of toilet paper for each. Give the young teens a couple of minutes to choose someone to be the “mummy” and talk about their wrapping strategy as you hand out rolls of toilet paper (2-3 per group). Tell the groups you’ll give them 3 minutes to wrap their mummies as completely as possible (making sure their mummies can breathe!). Ask them to begin on the count of three.

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