Session 4: Who is Jesus?

Resources for participants

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

4A:

  • Do you believe in miracles?
  • What do you associate with Christmas and Easter? Do you know anything about the Christian meaning of Christmas and Easter?
  • What do you know about any other religious festivals or secular holidays?
  • What other ideas or questions strike you from this part of the film?

4B:

  • Can you think of anyone who has given up their life for another person or a cause?
  • Can you imagine a situation where you might give up your life for someone else?
  • How would you respond if you knew someone had given up their life for you?
  • What other ideas or questions strike you from this part of the film?

4C:

  • Do you believe in life after death? What do you think happens to us after death?
  • Why do you think many people find it hard to believe in life after death?
  • What do you think about the idea that Jesus died and rose from the dead for us? What difference might it make?
  • What other ideas or questions strike you from this part of the film?

 

READINGS FROM THE YOUCAT FOR THIS SESSION

If you are using the YouCat with your Sycamore group, please click here for general advice about the YouCat and how to use the readings. Here are the readings that go with this week’s Sycamore session:

  • #86 to #112 – the life, death and resurrection of Jesus [13 pages]

NB the numbers (#) refer to paragraph numbers in the YouCat and not to page numbers. The number in [square brackets] at the end tells you roughly how long this passage is in terms of the pages you need to read (excluding picture pages).

 

LONGER READINGS FROM THE CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

If you have more time, and if you want to go deeper into the topic of this session, you can follow up by exploring the longer Catechism of the Catholic Church. See the standard online version here, and a digital “flip-book” edition here. Here are the readings that go with this week’s Sycamore session:

NB the numbers (#) refer to paragraph numbers in the Catechism and not to page numbers. Click on the links themselves to read the paragraphs in the online version.

 

WISDOM FROM THE BIBLE

Mark 1:32-34

“That evening, at sunset, they brought to Jesus all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons”.

Matthew 7:28-29

“Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.”

Luke 9:22

Jesus says to his disciples: “The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised”

John 11:25-26

Jesus says to Martha: “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die”.

John 19:16-19

“So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, ‘Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.’”

Luke 24:5-6

The angels say to the women at the tomb of Jesus: “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.”

Acts 10:39-41

St Peter says: “They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.”

1 Corinthians 15:3-5

“For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.”

 

KEY IDEAS FROM THE FILM

4A – He came to bring life to the world

The four Gospels in the bible are historical accounts of the life of Jesus, written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. They are based on eye-witness testimonies.

You see Jesus touching the lives of people in extraordinary ways. In the village of Bethsaida, he touched the eyes of a man who was completely blind, and healed him. In the town of Nain, when he saw a woman grieving for her dead son, he touched the body, and the man was brought back to life.

When a storm lashed against the boat he was in, he shouted into the wind and the waves and brought everything to a sudden calm. In the village of Cana, when there was no drink left at a wedding, he turned water into wine.

These miracles are not just fairy tales or myths. There were hundreds of witnesses. The people of Galilee were not fools. They knew how to spot a fake wonderworker.

When he taught, they felt that the wisdom of God was speaking through him. When he forgave sins, they felt that the mercy of God was reaching out to touch them. When he prayed, it seemed that there was no distance between earth and heaven. He was fixing a world that had somehow become broken.

And wherever he went, he brought people together and invited them into his friendship. No-one was excluded, apart from those who excluded themselves. He called this unusual community the Church.

Jesus said: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life”. It was as if he was opening a door into a completely new way of life. He called it the Kingdom of God. It was something the Jewish People had been promised for many centuries, and something that all people were secretly longing for.

4B – The Saving Death of Jesus

Christians believe that Jesus gave his life for us by dying on the cross, and then rose from the dead on the third day, in the glory of the resurrection.  His death brings us peace with God, and the hope of eternal life. It brings healing. And it brings forgiveness for what the bible calls sin, which is all the wrong we have done and all the harm we have caused. But why did he have to die?

The Son of God became human because he wanted to be with us. He wanted to enter into the deepest reality of human experience; to share not just our joy but also our loneliness, our suffering, our darkness; so that no-one, anywhere, could ever say they had been abandoned by God.

He let himself be tortured and executed like a common criminal. It was a desire to come close to all those who suffer, and lead them out to a better place.

Imagine if you discovered that you were only alive because someone had given their life for you. Well this is the reality. Jesus offered his life on the cross for each one of us, personally. He did this out of love – love for each one of us, for you, for me. He carried on his shoulders the weight of every human sin and the burden of every human suffering.

The cross of Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice. It undoes all the damage that has ever been done and sets us free. It was of infinite value because the one saying Yes was the Son of God. All we need to do is to unite our yes with his, and try to love him in return.

4C – The meaning of the Resurrection

Christians believe that Jesus died and was raised to life on the third day by God the Father, through the power of the Holy Spirit. He appeared to his friends and disciples – teaching them and sharing his life with them.

After forty days, he was taken up into heaven, body and soul, to be with the Father. Then, on the feast of Pentecost, he sent the Holy Spirit upon the Church, so that all people could share in this new life.

When he rose from the dead, Jesus did not just come back to his old life; he entered into a completely new way of being. His human body is now glorified, sharing in God’s eternal life. This is a new creation, freed from suffering and death. The resurrection is a symbol of hope, a sign of God’s victory over sin and evil.

As Christ rises from the tomb he lifts us out of the spiritual darkness that we are in, bringing us to a place of safety. We just need to reach out and take his hand.

The death and resurrection of Jesus are not just stories. It’s amazing to discover that Jesus Christ is alive. That he died out of love for me and for you, personally. That he rose from the dead out of love for me and for you, personally. And that he invites us to share his life in a very personal way.

We can respond to this amazing knowledge by taking a step of faith. It simply means to put your trust in Jesus Christ. To say to him, aloud or in your heart, “Jesus, I believe in you”; or even “Jesus, help me to believe in you”.

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