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Conversation Starter

If you could eat a special meal with anyone, who would you choose to eat with?


Scripture: “When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.’” Luke 22:14-15, NIV (click for context)


Consider Jesus’ words about Judas: “But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table.” Luke 22:21, NIV (click for context) 


Consider Peter’s strong words to Jesus (before Peter denied he even knew Jesus): “But [Peter] replied, ‘Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.’” Luke 22:33, NIV (click for context)


Sermon Insights: Around the table with Jesus that night were the twelve guys Jesus had spent three years of his life with, teaching and modeling a life of selfless servanthood.


Observation (5 minutes)

Jesus had really close friends. He spent his life with them. What does that say about the importance Jesus placed on having other people in your life?


Jesus loved Judas even though he knew Judas would betray him. Jesus taught Peter even though he knew Peter wouldn’t always “get it.” Jesus did not pick perfect people.


Jesus loved eating with people. He even turned this special Passover meal into Communion so his family, the church, could eat together (with him!) every time they worshiped.


Application (5 minutes)

Do I have friends like Jesus?


Do I only love people who love me back?


Do I regularly practice not only Communion but also eating together with others?


Prayer (5 minutes)

As you spend a few minutes talking to your Heavenly Father, consider this: have I ever talked to the Father God as a “friend”?

Conversation Starter

Teapot or steam locomotive: when I am frustrated, do I blow off steam loudly or let it fuel me serve others?



Scripture: It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. John 13:1-5, NIV (click for context)


Sermon Insights:  

I wonder how Jesus felt…“Have they caught nothing of what I taught this last three years?” So Jesus, the Incarnate God—the greatest of them all—takes on the position of a servant. He gets up from the table, goes down on his knees and washes their dirty feet one by one.


Observation (5 minutes)

Jesus KNEW Judas was going to betray him, and Jesus washed Judas’ feet anyway.


I have a feeling Jesus did this tough job with a great attitude. I imagine he prayed for them as he remembered they would take his message around the world after he left.


Jesus would often do things that confused the disciples at first. I wonder how many times later in their lives the disciples would remember this night.


Application (5 minutes)

Do I let Jesus close enough to love and serve me, or do I awkwardly push back and stay comfortably invulnerable?


If Jesus considers me worth loving, I am deemed significant and secure. Who can I serve?


Prayer (5 minutes)

As you enter a short time of prayer, ask God if there is any “steam” you need to move from teapot to steam locomotive—from noisy irritation to solid work on behalf of others. 


Conversation Starter 3

What situations in your life do you try most to avoid?


Scripture 3

Scripture: An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear. But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him. Luke 22:43-51, NIV (click for context)


Sermon Insights:  

Jesus led his followers into the Garden of Gethsemane which means a “place of crushing.”

For the first time in eternity past, present, and future, God the Son would be separated from God the Father.


Jesus would experience Hell…on our behalf. What would you do in an anguishing moment like that? Jesus prayed!


Observation (5 minutes)

Everything Jesus had was being “crushed.” His closest friends couldn’t provide comfort—they were asleep “exhausted from sorrow.” One of his closest friends betrayed him with a kiss, turning what had been a simple greeting of friendship and closeness into a premeditated signal for the soldiers hungry for violence to identify their target. Jesus’ own body began to sweat blood, a sign of mountainous waves of traumatic stress. Yet Jesus gave healing instead of hate to his enemies. He knew what he was going to do, and he was not going to be distracted from giving himself fully.


What observations do you make about this time of suffering?


Application (5 minutes)

Sometimes, it is helpful to gain perspective by imagining you were one of the people at this historic event. What would you have thought or felt if you had been:

  • Jesus
  • Peter
  • Judas
  • A soldier
  • The servant of the High Priest

Prayer (5 minutes)

As you show your appreciation for God in your time of prayer, ask God, “Why did Jesus have to die?”



Conversation Starter 4

How can God be an all-loving God of forgiveness…and a God of justice and punishment…at the same time?


Scripture 4

Scripture: Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people, and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death. Therefore, I will punish him and then release him.”


… But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people, For the third time he spoke to them: “Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.” But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. So Pilate decided to grant their demand.


…It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. Luke 23:13-16,21-24,44-46, NIV (click for context)


Sermon Insights:

Why did Jesus die? Because our loving God, who loves us more than any of us can fully comprehend, is also a God of justice. And it is at the cross of Jesus Christ where the love of God and the justice of God meet. God, in the human body of Jesus Christ, paid for our sin…he took our punishment. This is God moving powerfully to redeem, reconcile, and build a relationship with his human family, his creation.


Observation (5 minutes)

It appears God himself will not break his own word or his own rules. He said sin must be separated from him. We call that death—separation. God did not set this aside, but made a way THROUGH suffering to rescue us.


God did not STOP at justice…he moved passionately past mere justice and paid for my guilt through the blood of Jesus. Love won the day.


Jesus himself suffered…for the “joy” that was to come—an eternal and wonderful relationship with those who choose to follow him and be forgiven.


Application (5 minutes)

God set the standard…I stepped across the line intentionally in many ways. I cannot very well accuse God of being unloving if he personally chose to suffer the consequences…of my actions…


I need to review my attitudes towards God. He is righteous AND kind. He is an unyielding judge AND eternally loving. He stands by his unbreakable standard AND takes on the punishment so I don’t have to.


I need to forgive others…because I have been forgiven much.


Prayer (5 minutes)

As you pray, consider using this Scripture by personally wording it into a prayer. For example, “Dear Father, I know your word is alive and active and judges my thoughts…thank you that even I can approach your throne of grace with confidence…”


For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:12-16, NIV (click for context)

Conversation Starter 5

Who is your hero and why?


Scripture 5

Scripture: It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. Luke 23:44-46, NIV (click for context)


‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3, NIV (click for context)


Sermon Insights:

God, in the human body of Jesus Christ, paid for our sin. He took our punishment.


God wants to say to you today, “Whatever you have done, whatever you have become…it doesn’t matter. Because I made the payment for you, you don’t have to pay for your sins. I have done that.” You simply have to surrender to him as Lord, receive his amazing grace, his blood covering for your sin.


Observation (5 minutes)

The Temple, the most beautiful and revered “holy place,” was rendered useless. Once the veil tore, it made very clear that the “holy of holies” contained nothing but dust and artifacts. God had “left the building.” The sun stopped shining. And the Son of God “breathed his last.”


Jesus endured the shame of the cross…sin, nakedness, betrayal, the curse of being hung on a tree…SO THAT he could experience the “joy set before him.” God would create a new kind of people who were forgiven, full of love, and ready, willing and able to serve the world and help the world be reconciled to him. Jesus created the church through the Holy Spirit—and the Bible calls the church Jesus’ bride!


Application (5 minutes)

I need to “throw off” everything, good and bad, that hinders me from running my race. Attitudes, actions, habits…


I don’t have the right to be angry and unforgiving towards anyone, because God has fully accepted, loved, and forgiven me. “Deserving it” has nothing to do with forgiveness.


I need to make sure I focus not on beautiful buildings (which are nice) but on having a beautiful heart filled with power, love, and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7).


Prayer (5 minutes)

As you pray, thank God that he cares more about WHO you are than WHERE you worship!



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