TEXT: Matthew 26:36-42; Philippians 2:5-11
The students will be able to explain why and how they must yield their wills, even as Christ did, in order to fulfill God’s plan for their lives.
We cannot talk about doing the will of God without considering submission. For the most part, submission is something that doesn’t come easily to man. God made man a free agent with the right of choice. Man’s choice is usually to follow his own will and inclination. To yield one’s will to another is contrary to man’s normal desires. It involves meekness, resignation, and obedience—certainly all of this and more is necessary if one is to be fully submitted to the will of God. Love paves the way!
Ephesians 5:21 instructs us to submit “yourselves one to another,” as well as to God. Beyond this is the submission to circumstances in life that God allows to come our way. Peace of heart and mind and victory in one’s Christian walk is not possible without learning submission.
Easter is the day on which the Christian church celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. No mention of such a celebration in New Testament times is due to the fact that Jewish Christians linked the day with their observance of the Passover which was observed the 14th day of Nisan regardless of the day of the week.
It was the Gentile believers who instituted the celebration of the Resurrection on Sunday, the Lord’s Day. This difference was settled by the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D., which ruled that Easter should be celebrated on the first Sunday after the full moon following the vernal equinox.
This is the system followed by Christians at the present time, the date thereby varying between March 22 and April 25.
Seemingly, one of the hardest things for man to do is to submit to the will of God. The Apostle Paul says the carnal mind is enmity against God and is not subject to the Law of God (Romans 8:7). For those who wish to make Heaven their home, it is absolutely necessary to conform to God’s will; not only when their lives are first surrendered to the Lord, but they must submit daily to the will of God.
- How many disciples accompanied Jesus to Gethsemane, and which three did He select to be with Him as He went to pray? Why do you think Jesus asked these three to go with Him?
Resume: Eleven disciples accompanied the Lord. He took Peter, James, and John with Him when He went to pray. The answer to the second question will be based somewhat on conjecture, but we can substantiate certain characteristics of these men which may have been the reason they were chosen by Christ. John was obviously devoted, as he leaned on Jesus’ breast. He is described as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” John and his brother James seemed to be inseparable. Peter was quick to speak and act for Christ, and undoubtedly Christ recognized the basic strength of character in him. It is interesting to note that these three who accompanied Him to the Garden and saw His agony were also the ones who saw the raising of Jairus’ daughter and Christ’s transfiguration.
- Do you think the sorrow Jesus felt was only because He knew He was going to the cross? Explain.
Resume: No. Your students should realize that Christ bore a much greater burden than this as He sought to fulfill the will of His Father. He carried the weight of man’s sin, and because of that, God the Father turned away from Him in rejection. This rejection at the time of His agony in the Garden was felt until Jesus’ Blood was shed. At that time His Blood covered the sins of the world, and then at His death He could commend His spirit to God. Try to understand the depth of His anguish over this rejection by asking your class to draw a parallel between the anguish parents feel when a child rejects them, or the grief when one chosen as a marriage partner renounces his agreement, to the grief Christ suffered when He felt rejected by His own Father in Heaven.
- Who came to strengthen Him? Luke 22:43
Resume: An angel. The obvious response to this question should be developed by discussing the fact that even in times of great anguish, there is comfort if one is striving to follow God’s will for him. Help your students understand the ways in which this comfort may come.
- Explain in your own words what “this cup” (verses 39,42) refers to.
Resume: The word cup is frequently used in the sacred writings to point out sorrow, anguish, terror, death. It seems to be an allusion to a very ancient method of punishing criminals—a cup of poison was put into their hands, and they were obliged to drink it. Jesus was willing to drink this cup if the Father would not let it pass from Him.
- Why didn’t the Father in Heaven spare His own Son? Romans 5:8-21
Resume: The point of this question is to bring out that God’s plan included the death of Jesus, and because of Jesus’ love for mankind He was willing to fulfill His part by submitting His will to the Father’s.
- What condition would the world have been left in if Jesus had called for more than twelve legions of angels to come and deliver Him (Matthew 26:53-54)? How was His submission an example to us?
Resume: The world would have been left without hope. The students should see that in this, Christ set the supreme example for them. While their decisions as to whether or not they will submit their will is of much lesser consequence than was Christ’s, still it will have an eternal effect on their individual lives.
- We have many Biblical examples of those who were willing to submit to God’s plan for their lives. Tell about one and what might have happened if he or she had refused to obey God.
Resume: No doubt your students will come up with a number of examples. Some that could be mentioned are Moses, Noah, Esther, and Daniel—notable figures in Biblical history. For each example mentioned, explore the possibilities of “what might have been” had they not submitted to God’s directives for their lives.
- What are some of the ways we can ascertain whether a certain course of action is in the will of God for us?
Resume: Allow time for your students to offer their thoughts. Be prepared to point out that initially, one must be sure it agrees with the Word of God, then seek for guidance of the spirit. This may be revealed by a direct answer from God, the sign of a fleece, through the opening of some doors, the closing of others, or the counsel of the godly.
Read Ecclesiastes 3. Discuss how each verse would be if God had not planned things perfectly. How would it be to have summer or winter all year?
Use house plans, a recipe, a dress pattern, etc., as an example of the importance of plans, compared with making it your way.
Collect enough large plastic eggs so each of your students will have his own for this exercise. Choose several sentences of Scripture from the Easter story. Write each sentence on a slip of paper. Cut each sentence apart so there is only one word on each piece of paper. Put a separate sentence in each egg and shake the egg to mix up the words. Let each child choose an egg and try to put the sentence together in the right order. When all sentences have been put together correctly, have the students try to put them in the right order to tell the Easter story properly. (Note: You might wish to include the Scripture references in the eggs so the students can look up the verses if they need to.)
This idea can help your students take the Easter story beyond the classroom. Have ready for the students, small twigs and lightweight wire. Let them make small crosses from the twigs by breaking the twigs into two pieces for each cross (approximately one-and-a-half and two-inch pieces). Wire the twigs together in the middle. Make enough to give to each person who attends your church on Easter Sunday morning. If your church is too large, you might want to give to only those who do not regularly attend, or to the elderly, or use for any visitations that are made that day. Just be sure the students who hand them out explain that they are for a remembrance of Jesus’ death and resurrection.