Jesus Walks with Us: The Key to Understanding Scripture By Tom East Purpose

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Jesus Walks with Us: The Key to Understanding Scripture


By Tom East
Purpose

As he did for the disciples journeying to Emmaus, Jesus walks with us today, showing us the Father’s love and helping us to see the meaning of the Scriptures. This catechetical session helps high school participants explore ways to understand Scripture through the lens of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.


Component: Catechesis

Correlation to the U.S. Bishops’ Adaptation: Course 1: The Revelation of Jesus Christ and Scripture

(Catechism of the Catholic Church #65-68, 73)


Session at a Glance

7:00 p.m. Introduction, Reflection and Reading

7:15 p.m. Jesus’ Life and Teachings

7:25 p.m. Group Project



Extend the Session: Jesus Enters the Story (add 30 to 40 minutes)

Extend the Session: Jesus Makes the Difference (add 15 to 20 minutes)

8:10 p.m. Closing Prayer and Reflection

8:30 p.m. Session Concludes / Announcements and Refreshments
Extend the Session: Jesus Enters the Story (30 to 40 minutes)

While the groups are preparing their project, ask them to create a brief skit that shows the meaning of the Old Testament story and has Jesus “joining” the story. Jesus would then share the group’s report that helps us to look at this story or passage in new ways.


Instead of 25 minutes, groups will probably need 35 to 40 minutes to prepare and an addition 20 to 25 minutes for sharing the skits and reports.

Extend the Session: Jesus Makes the Difference (15 to 20 minutes)

Invite two to three people from your community who are knowledgeable about scripture to provide a personal witness about how knowing Jesus’ life and teachings helps them to understand scripture. They should also include personal sharing about how scripture helps them as a disciple. Each person should select a specific passage of scripture to read and be prepared to provide a brief witness (three to five minutes). These witness presentations could be followed by question and answer from the group.


Materials Needed


  • Newsprint sheets, one per small group in addition to newsprint sheets prepared in advance.

  • Index cards, one per person

  • Pens or pencils, one per person

  • Construction paper strips (see #5 in Prepare in Advance)

  • Art supplies to create bookmarks: fine tip colored marking pens, yarn, ribbon, scissors, magazines, glue sticks – provide enough sets of supplies to set out on tables for groups of 4 to 7 participants

  • Handout 1, God So Loves the World, one per person

  • Resource 1, Script for Introduction, one each for presenter, disciple 1 and disciple 2

  • Resource 2, Characteristics of Jesus, for presenter

  • Resource 3, On the Road to Emmaus, one each for the narrator, Jesus, Cleopas, and the Other Disciple

  • Open My Eyes” by Jesse Manibusan (Spirit & Song, OCP)

  • CD or MP3 player


Prepare in Advance

Note to Leader: This session is correlated to the U.S. Bishops’ Adaptation of the Curriculum Framework, published in January 2010 by the Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis at the USCCB. Download the Adaptation from this website: http://www.usccb.org/evangelization/Adaptation-of-HS-Curriculum-Framework-Preamble2.pdf.

  1. Recruit two youth or adults to be Disciples 1 and 2 in the Introduction. Provide each volunteer with Resource 1, Script for Introduction. Disciples 1 and 2 should wear albs and should be waiting outside or in another room until they burst on the scene and interrupt the presentation.




  1. Recruit two additional volunteers to assist with the dramatic presentation of the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Disciple 1 can be Cleopas, Disciple 2 can be the Other Disciple. An additional volunteer will be Jesus, who should dress in an alb for the closing prayer. Another volunteer will be the Narrator. Give each of these four volunteers a copy of Resource 3, On the Road to Emmaus, to prepare in advance.




  1. Recruit small group leaders to help the groups in their Group Project. Tell the group leaders their Scripture references in advance so that they can do some research on the readings and be prepared to assist the group with ideas as needed.



  1. Gather a variety of lenses to use as examples in Jesus’ Life and Teachings. Consider including: eyeglasses, sunglasses, binoculars, microscope, safety goggles, swim goggles, a magnifying glass, etc.




  1. Use good quality construction paper and divide each sheet into four strips (approximately 2½ to 3 inches by 8 to 9 inches). These will be used to make bookmarks.




  1. Prepare for the presentation of additional ideas about the characteristics of Jesus and the teachings of Jesus to present during the Life and Teachings of Jesus. Use Resource 2, Characteristics of Jesus, as a resource as you reflect on Jesus’ qualities, characteristics, and core teachings. Be prepared to add some of these ideas as needed after the group brainstorming.



  1. Prepare for the presentation of the key ideas about Jesus and Scripture at the end of the Group Projects. Consider reading the references listed on page 1 from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (#65-68 and 73). After the key points, you will provide a personal witness about a challenging or difficult Scripture passage and the ways that knowing Jesus through faith helps you to understand Scripture and follow Jesus more closely as a disciple.




  1. Prepare a prayer table with a cloth, Bible and cross. Use this Bible to proclaim the beginning of the Emmaus story in the Introduction.



  1. Prepare four sheets of newsprint needed for the session:


Newsprint #1: (Write these questions)

  1. What was a time when you were confused about something that happened or you were confused by something that someone you knew did or said?




  1. How did you feel about being confused?




  1. What helped you to understand the situation better?


Newsprint #2: (Write this heading only)

Characteristics of Jesus


Newsprint #3: (Write this heading only)

Teachings of Jesus


Newsprint #4: (Write this heading only)

God so loved the world that…




  1. Set up tables for refreshments and sign-in. Have one or two people at the sign-in table with check-in sheet and nametags and registration information (have a few extra packets on hand for walk-ins). Hospitality is important! As the leader, spend the arrival time moving among the participants, greeting and speaking with them.


Session Outline

Introduction, Reflection and Reading (15 minutes)

Welcome participants, taking time to make introductions as needed. Introduce the session in these or similar words:

Welcome! Have you ever read the end of the story first and then read the rest of the story from the beginning? Have you ever watched the last scene of a movie and then watched it from the beginning? When we know the ending, it completely changes the way that we experience the rest of the story.

As Christians, we know the story of God’s love for us as told in the Bible. We also know the “ending”—the climax of this story is when God the Father gives us his only son, Jesus, who becomes one of us to show us how to follow God’s love completely. Jesus suffers, dies on the cross, and rises from the dead to show us that God’s love conquers everything!
Knowing Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection affects the way that we experience reading and hearing passages from the Bible. Tonight we are going to reflect on the ways that Jesus walks with us, as we read the Bible to help us understand the message of God’s love and call.
One way that we will explore this is by taking time to … (Presentation is interrupted at this point by the two disciples walking past asking questions.)
Disciple 1

I know, but it just doesn’t make sense. Why did he let them do that?


Disciple 2

I thought he was going to save us from the Romans. Didn’t he know how much they are hurting his people?


Disciple 1

He really left us stranded—everyone thinking we’re criminals too. Why didn’t he at least defend himself?


Presenter

Excuse me, can I help you? We’re here to learn about ways that Jesus helps us understand the Bible.


Disciples 2

Well, we’re walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus. Are we going the right way?

Presenter

Wow, are you guys lost!

Disciple 1

Can we join you? We need to take a break from walking, and it sounds like you might have some of the same questions as we do.

Presenter

Sure. You can join us. It sounds like you guys are pretty confused—you are asking lots of questions. (Turning to the group, the presenter asks) We all know what it’s like to be confused, don’t we? To make our guests feel more comfortable, let’s all think of a time when we were confused.

Post newsprint with the three questions and distribute index cards and pens or pencils. Ask participants to reflect on the questions and jot down their answers on the index cards. Play quiet music in the background.


  1. What was a time when you were confused about something that happened or you were confused by something that someone you knew did or said?

  2. How did you feel about being confused?

  3. What helped you to understand the situation better?

Allow a few minutes for individual reflection, then invite participants to stand and share with a partner, like the two disciples heading to Emmaus. After three or four minutes, invite the participants to sit down and ask for volunteers to share responses for the second and third question. Summarize what you heard in the responses and then continue with the presentation:


We become confused when a situation is different than what we expected. Because God’s love and call is so big and important to our lives, we are bound to be confused sometimes. God provides the answer to our questions and our confusion about the big questions in life, about our purpose, and about the meaning of life. Let’s listen together to a reading about people who are confused. This comes to us from the Gospel of Luke.
Read Luke 24:13-24.
Disciple 1

Hey this story is about us!


Disciple 2

I sure hope so. It sounds like we might get some answers to our questions and… we will get to see Jesus again.

Presenter

As the story tells us, we all experience help in our confusion, and we all experience Jesus, the Word, in Scripture. Because of Jesus’ friendship with us, because we know about his life and teachings, it helps us to understand God’s message shared with us in Bible.

Jesus Life and Teachings (10 minutes)

Post two newsprint sheets in a place where all can see and record answers on the newsprint. Say:


For this first newsprint, let’s describe Jesus. What is he like? What words describe him?

Add words to this list as needed.


On this second newsprint sheet, let’s identify the teachings of Jesus. What did Jesus teach? What did he tell us to do?

Add ideas to this list as needed. Use Resource 2, Characteristics of Jesus, as needed to add ideas.


What is the purpose of a lens? A lens is a piece of transparent material that helps us to see more clearly or that protects the eyes from damage.
Pass around some of the lenses you gathered in advance (glasses, binoculars, microscopes, sunglasses, swim goggles, safety goggles.)
Explain to the group that Jesus’ life and teachings are a “lens” we use to look at all of Scriptures contained in the Bible.
Group Project (45 minutes)

Distribute Handout 1, God So Loves the World, to each participant. Divide the participants into groups and assign each group to one pair of Scriptures. (If you have a large group, assign the same set of Scriptures to more than one group. In this case, each group will present a report.) Distribute a sheet of newsprint and markers to each group. Review the instructions for the group project:


First, each group should read the Old Testament reading and answer the first question: What is this about? or What is happening in this passage?
Second, read the New Testament passage and discuss: How does Jesus connect with this passage? or How is Jesus a part of this story?

Third, refer back to the list of the characteristics and teachings of Jesus and discuss these questions: How does Jesus help us to understand the passage? and What does Jesus show us and tell us?

Finally, create a report summarizing these last two questions using your newsprint sheet that begins with the headline: Jesus Shows Us and Tells Us that… Each group will need to appoint someone to read the report and someone to hold the report.
Allow 25 minutes for groups to work and then ask the group to re-gather.
Note to Leader
: This group assignment will be challenging for some groups. Consider doing Group 1’s assignment of readings as a large group. After the readings, discussions, and the creation of the group report for Group 1, ask for a volunteer to read this report in sequence with the other group assignments. Divide the group to prepare for the remaining four sets of readings. This may take an additional ten minutes.
Post a sheet of newsprint with this sentence and ask the group to shout out this sentence whenever you point to the newsprint:

God so loved the world that…
Point to the newsprint as you introduce each report.
Presenter

God so loves the world that… he created us in love.
Invite Group 1 to share and post their report.
Presenter

God so loves the world that… he loves us and cares for us like a shepherd cares for his sheep.
Invite Group 2 to share and post their report.
Presenter

God so loves the world that… he sends good news to all in need.
Invite Group 3 to share and post their report.
Presenter

God so loves the world that… he sends his son Jesus, the suffering servant, to show us the depth of God’s love.
Invite Group 4 to share and post their report.

Presenter


God so loves the world that… he saves his people from slavery—slavery in the desert of Egypt and slavery to sin.

God so loves the world that… he gives us bread and wine as Eucharist so that we can experience his presence always.
Invite Group 5 to share and post their report.

Ask participants to share their insights about this process:

In creating your reports you read from the Old Testament and the New Testament and you thought about the life and teachings of Jesus. What did you notice as you read, shared, and listened? What does this tell us about being Jesus’ disciple today?
Provide a brief summary for the group including these points:



  • God loves us so much; he calls us to follow his ways and to love each other.

  • Following God’s ways is not easy, but it is not beyond us because God sends everything we need to remember and follow his call. Jesus is the ultimate way that God shows us his love.

  • The Bible records the ways that God calls us and the ways that he cares for us and shows us the way.

  • Knowing Jesus’ life, values and teachings helps us to understand the passages of Scripture throughout the Bible.

  • Jesus’ life and teachings are the lens through which we see and understand the Bible because we read the Bible as one of his disciples.

Conclude the presentation by sharing an example from your own life about a Scripture passage or theme that you find puzzling or difficult and a way that knowing Jesus helps you to understand the Scripture better.

Closing Prayer and Reflection (20 minutes)

Distribute the strips of construction paper and have participants cluster around the stations where the supplies you gathered are available. Invite participants to create a bookmark to keep in their Bibles and to remind them of the lesson tonight. Provide these instructions:

On the front of the bookmark write the name, Jesus, and list words or pictures that remind you of the life and teachings of Jesus.

Refer to the newsprint lists from earlier in the session and to the group reports they created.


On the back of the bookmark, write the words: Walk with Me… List words, pictures, or symbols of things in your life that puzzle you, parts of your life in which you need God’s loving guidance.
Allow six to eight minutes for this process; play quiet music in the background and remind participants to work individually.
Invite the participants to gather around the prayer focus.
Gather

Sing “Open My Eyes.”

Prayer Leader: (begin with the Sign of the Cross)
Loving God, you want us to know you and follow your ways.

You give us the Bible to know the stories of your love.

You give us Jesus, the ultimate sign of love.
Thank you for calling us.

Thank you for having Jesus walk with us to understand your love and call.

Thank you for having Jesus help us understand the bible.
We ask all of this in Jesus name. Amen.
Listen

Invite the volunteers to proclaim Luke 13:11-35 as a dramatized reading using Resource 2, On the Road to Emmaus.


Respond

Invite participants to share aloud the ideas they recorded on the back of their bookmark: the parts of their lives where they would like Jesus to walk with them. Call on participants one at a time, after each sharing (or after several if you have a large group), lead the group in this response:


All: Walk with us, Jesus.

Go Forth

Invite youth to hold up their bookmarks. Suggest that they take this bookmark home and place it in their Bible to remind them to keep Jesus in mind and heart as they read Scriptures and learn more about God’s love and call. Ask someone to hold this prayer for you. Extend your hands as you read this blessing:

Loving God,

We want to know your love, and we want you to walk with us.

Bless these bookmarks and help them to remind us of your loving call.

Bless our community, and strengthen us to rely on you as we struggle and strive to understand your love and call in our lives.

Open our eyes so that we may see you and share your love with others.

We ask this through Christ and the Holy Spirit. Amen.



Announcements and Refreshments

Thank all of those who helped with the session. Provide announcements as needed and invite participants to enjoy refreshments.


Websites mentioned in this session were accessed successfully on June 2, 2010.


This session was written by Tom East, Director for the Center for Ministry Development, Gig Harbor, Washington. Tom also teaches the Evangelization & Catechesis course in the Certificate Program. Fr. Roy Shelly, Ph.D., Director of Formation and Moderator of the Curia for the Diocese of Monterey, served as theological consultant on this session.


Handout 1
God So Loves the World…

God loves us so much that he sends everything we need to remember and follow his call. Jesus is the ultimate way that God shows us his love. Jesus’ life and teachings are the lens through which we see and understand the Bible because we read the Bible as one of his disciples.


Each group is assigned one Old Testament and one New Testament reading. These are your instructions:

1. Have one member of the group read aloud the Old Testament reading and

discuss these questions: What is this about? What is happening in this passage?

2. Have one member of the group read the New Testament passage and discuss

these questions: How does Jesus connect with this passage? How is Jesus a part of this story?

3. Refer back to the list of characteristics and teachings of Jesus that we created and discuss these questions: How does Jesus help us to understand the passage? What does Jesus show us and tell us? Create a newsprint report to share with the group that summarizes your discussion about this reading and finishes this sentence: Jesus Shows Us and Tells Us that…

4. Appoint a member of your group to read your report and someone to hold the report.

Group Assignments

Group 1 – In the Beginning



Old Testament: Genesis 1:1-2, 26-27, 31

New Testament: John 1:1-5

Group 2 – The Good Shepherd



Old Testament: Psalm 23

New Testament: John 10:11, 14-15

Group 3 – Bring Good News



Old Testament: Isaiah 42:1-7

New Testament: Luke 4:14-22

Group 4 – The Suffering Servant



Old Testament: Isaiah 53:2-12

New Testament: Hebrews 2:9-10, 14-18

Group 5 – The Passover



Old Testament: Exodus 12:1-14

New Testament: Matthew 26:17-20, 26-29

Resource 1
Script for the Introduction
Presenter

Welcome! Have you ever read the end of the story first and then read the rest of the story from the beginning? Have you ever watched the last scene of a movie and then watched it from the beginning? When we know the ending, it completely changes the way that we experience the rest of the story.


As Christians, we know the story of God’s love for us as told in the Bible. We also know the “ending”—the climax of this story is when God the Father gives us his only son, Jesus, who becomes one of us to show us how to follow God’s love completely. Jesus suffers, dies on the cross, and rises from the dead to show us that God’s love conquers everything!
Knowing Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection affects the way that we experience reading and hearing passages from the Bible. Tonight we are going to reflect on the ways that Jesus walks with us, as we read the Bible to help us understand the message of God’s love and call.
One way that we will explore this is by taking time to … (Presentation is interrupted at this point by the two disciples walking past asking questions.)
Disciple 1

I know, but it just doesn’t make sense. Why did he let them do that?


Disciple 2

I thought he was going to save us from the Romans. Didn’t he know how much they are hurting his people?


Disciple 1

He really left us stranded—everyone thinking we’re criminals too. Why didn’t he at least defend himself?


Presenter

Excuse me, can I help you? We’re here to learn about ways that Jesus helps us understand the Bible.


Disciples 2

Well, we’re walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus. Are we going the right way?

Presenter

Wow, are you guys lost!

Disciple 1

Can we join you? We need to take a break from walking, and it sounds like you might have some of the same questions as we do.

Presenter

Sure. You can join us. It sounds like you guys are pretty confused—you are asking lots of questions. (Turning to the group, the presenter asks) We all know what it’s like to be confused, don’t we? To make our guests feel more comfortable, let’s all think of a time when we were confused.


Post newsprint with the three questions and distribute index cards and pens or pencils. Ask participants to reflect on the questions and jot down their answers on the index cards. Play quiet music in the background.


  1. What was a time when you were confused about something that happened or you were confused by something that someone you knew did or said?

  2. How did you feel about being confused?

  3. What helped you to understand the situation better?

Allow a few minutes for individual reflection, then invite participants to stand and share with a partner, like the two disciples heading to Emmaus. After three or four minutes, invite the participants to sit down and ask for volunteers to share responses for the second and third question. Summarize what you heard in the responses and then continue with the presentation:


We become confused when a situation is different than what we expected. Because God’s love and call is so big and important to our lives, we are bound to be confused sometimes. God provides the answer to our questions and our confusion about the big questions in life, about our purpose, and about the meaning of life. Let’s listen together to a reading about people who are confused. This comes to us from the Gospel of Luke.
Read Luke 24:13-24.
Disciple 1

Hey this story is about us!


Disciple 2

I sure hope so. It sounds like we might get some answers to our questions and… we will get to see Jesus again.

Presenter

As the story tells us, we all experience help in our confusion, and we all experience Jesus, the Word, in Scripture. Because of Jesus’ friendship with us, because we know about his life and teachings, it helps us to understand God’s message shared with us in Bible.

Resource 2

Summary of Characteristics of Jesus



  • Jesus was a listener. (Luke 10:38-42)




  • Jesus was responsive in a loving way to what he heard. (Mark 5:21-43)




  • Jesus was a creator of vision (Matthew 5:1-12)




  • Jesus was authentic (Mark 14:34)




  • Jesus was compassionate (Matthew 9:36)




  • Jesus was forgiving. (John 8:1-11)




  • Jesus was straightforward. (Mark 2:23-28)




  • Jesus was generative. (life-giving and focused on others) (John 2:1-11)




  • Jesus was inclusive. (Matthew 28:19)




  • Jesus was empowering. (John 15:15-16)




  • Jesus was a person of integrity. (John 19:11)

(Excerpted from The Collaborative Leader by Loughlan Sofield, ST and Donald H. Kuhn. Notre Dame IN: Ave Maria Press, pp. 34-36.)


Resource 3


On the Road to Emmaus

A Dramatized Reading from the Gospel According to Luke spoken in four parts:

Narrator, Jesus, Cleopas, and the Other Disciple

Narrator:

A Reading from the Gospel according to Luke.

Now that very day two of them were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus,  and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.

And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them,  but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.

He asked them,

Jesus: “What are you discussing as you walk along?”

Narrator:

They stopped, looking downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply,



Cleopas: “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?”

Jesus: “What sort of things?”

Other Disciple: “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people,  how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him. But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place.  Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning  and did not find his body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive.  Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see.”

Narrator:

And Jesus replied:


Jesus: “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!  Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”


Narrator:

Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures. As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther. But they urged him,

Cleopas and Disciple together:

“Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.”



Narrator:

So he went in to stay with them. And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them.

(pause)

 With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other,

Cleopas and Disciple together:

“Were not our hearts burning (within us) while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?”



Narrator:

So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them who were saying, “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!” Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.



Jesus Walks with Us: The Key to Understanding Scripture

Copyright © Center for Ministry Development, 2010. All rights reserved.



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