Scripture: Mark 10:35-45
35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”
36 “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.
37 They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”
38 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”
39 “We can,” they answered.
Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, 40 but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.”
41 When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. 42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Main Point: Success and greatness is usually measured in terms of power and fame. This makes the pursuit of success and greatness an overly selfish pursuit. Jesus turned the idea of greatness on the head. For Jesus true greatness was not related to the elevation of one’s self but to the elevation of God and others. The students will explore this concept and be challenged with how they can be the example of setting others first.
Learning Game: Suicide Chess
Chess is a game that everyone has some familiarity with. However, it is not a game that everyone knows how to play. It might be helpful to have a player aid available that reminds the students how the various pieces move. Chess is also a game that a lot of people find intimidating. However, most students will be willing to give this variation a try because it can be introduced by saying the goal of this game is to lose.
This game is played like chess with a couple of exceptions. First, if a capture is possible then it must be taken. If multiple captures are possible, then player chooses which one they will do. There is no check or check mate. Instead the first player to lose all of their pieces “wins”. If necessary the game can be played with a hard time limit, so at the end of the time limit the player with the least amount of pieces is the winner.
Post Game Discussion
Use the following questions to prompt discussion
1. How was this game different than other games you have played before?
2. Was it easier or harder for you to play with the goal of losing?
3. How does the world normally define “winning?” How does the world normally define success? How are the definitions similar?
Facilitator Instruction: For this third question it needs to be made clear that typical definitions of winning and succeeding are being first, the best, and number one. Winning is seen as crushing the opposition and emerging on top as the last one standing. Winning is understood as having the most. Success is always attributed with winning. That is one of the thing that make the game kind of hard to wrap our minds around. In the game the goal was to be the first to lose everything, instead of being the first to gain everything or be the last one with pieces on the board.
Read Mark 10:35-45 and then use the following questions to prompt discussion.
1. Why do you think James and John wanted to sit at the right and left of Jesus?
Facilitator Instruction: For this question some background information can be helpful. In those days whenever there was an official banquet, people sat according to their importance. The most important person was in the middle of the table. The second most person was on their right, and the third on their left. James and John were essentially asking to be the second and third most important people in heaven.
2. Looking at verse 43 and 44, how did Jesus redefine success?
Facilitator Instruction: Jesus defines greatness/success as putting others first. This definition of success can be compared to the answer the students gave earlier. This question can also be tied back to the game. Jesus gives an unexpected definition of success much like the game had an unexpected victory condition.
3. What do you think Jesus meant by “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be a slave to all”?
Facilitator Instruction: Jesus is not talking about doing nice things for others when we feel like it. A slave does not have any choice in what they do. To be a slave to all is a lifestyle of always looking for how others can be put first and served.
4. How is putting others first different than the way most people live?
Facilitator Instruction: Most people approach life the way disciples did or the way that we normally approach chess. We seek to be on top by achieving complete domination. This is a very self-centered way of living, and putting others first is the exact opposite of that.
5. What would it mean for you to put others first? How can you do that?
Facilitator Instruction: Challenge the youth to give specific answers and not just generalities.
Closing Reflection (5 minutes)
Conclude the lesson by summing up that one of the way’s that we can do better at serving others is to change our mindset. Often we kind of think about ourselves as the start of our life, but instead what if we saw ourselves as in the background and God or others as front and center in our life. As an option for this closing share with the students the songBackground by Lecrae.