Into the Lesson
Prepare 15 sheets of copier paper, each displaying one of the following letters or blanks. Put a number at the bottom of each sheet, as indicated.
SON OF THUNDER!
8 15 11 6 3 14 7 13 9 2 4 12 5
On the back of these sheets of paper, print the following letters and blanks, inverted:
APOSTLE OF LOVE
Affix the 15 sheets to the wall in a single line, with Son of Thunder! and numerals showing. Put masking tape along the top of the sheets so each can be lifted to reveal the letter on the back. Refer to Luke 9:54, in which John and his brother suggested fire from Heaven to punish a village that refused hospitality to Jesus and His apostles. Refer to Mark 3:17, where Jesus gave these two brothers the nickname Boanerges, or- “sons of thunder.”
Lift the flaps in numerical sequence, taping the revealed letters upward. As letters are revealed, encourage students to identify at any time what the phrase on the reverse is. Once the puzzle is solved, ask, “How is it that one called a son of thunder became a messenger of love?” Be sure to mention that John, after being in Jesus’ company for several years, felt so loved he would call himself the one “whom Jesus loved” (John 21:20).
Into the Word
Write all the following statements, drawn from the commentary, on slips of paper. Do not include either the sequence numbers or the verse numbers on the slips.
1. Genuine children resemble their Father in an important way (v. 7); 2. One who does not have love does not know God (v. 8); 3. God’s love is a mighty passion (v. 9); 4. Jesus was the “propitiation” that restored God’s favor (v. 10); 5. God took steps to deal with our sins (v. 10); 6. Nothing less than love for others is acceptable (v. 11); 7. We can have God’s presence dwelling in us (v.12); 8. We have the Spirit because God gave Him to us (v. 13); 9. The apostles knew firsthand that the Father sent the Son into the world (v. 14); 10. Jesus did not come just to teach – He came to rescue (v. 14); 11. If a person confesses Jesus, then God dwells in him or her (v. 15); 12. God embodies what is good about love (v. 16); 13. When we dwell in His love, God dwells in us (v. 16); 14. We have confidence to speak boldly in the presence of God (v. 17); 15. If our love is mature, then we can stand pure and righteous before the Father (v. 17); 16. Fear and love cannot coexist (v. 18); 17. The person who lives in unhealthy fear of God is not spiritually mature (v. 18); 18. Without God’s initiative we would have not known genuine love (v. 19); 19. The practical test of love is that God’s child must love others (v. 20); 20. If we cannot find anything lovable in another, then we will not find anything lovable in God (v. 20); 21. The two great commands of Jesus (love God; love one’s neighbor) are inseparable (v. 21); 22. God is the source of love (v. 10).
Put the slips in a box and pass it around. Say, “Take one of the slips.” (If your class is small, suggest each take two or three.) Then say, “Now turn to 1 John 4:7-21 and find the verse that best relates to the truth on your slip(s).”
As you read through the text, ask students to identify verses they have matched. Because of the emphatic repetition in John’s style, students may associate statements with verses other than the ones identified above.
Write the letters LFOEVAER on the board. Ask, “What’s wrong here?” Once someone notices that the word fear is embedded in the word love, the answer will be obvious: 1 John 4:18!
Ask the class to share in a prayer for God to make our love so perfect or whole that fear will disappear. Suggest that such a prayer is a worthy idea for the beginning of each new day.