This youth ministry reflection on Matthew 16:21-27 helps teens understand what it means to “take up your cross” and gives them some concrete ideas of how they can do this.
This reflection would work well in conjunction with Stations of the Cross if time allows.
Beforehand, gather up some twigs and twine to make small crosses to take home as reminders of this discussion.
Start the reflection by reading Matthew 16:21-27:
Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.
Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.”
He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do."
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay all according to his conduct.”Matthew 16:21-27
Explain that Jesus was heading to Jerusalem, where he knew he would die. He did this willingly, out of love for us.
What does Jesus mean when He says we must take up our cross and follow Him? Sometimes we think that our crosses must be big things, like somebody is dying or having to move to a new city. But these aren’t things we all experience. Crosses can be little things also:
- Doing our homework
- Changing the subject when someone starts gossiping
- Getting chores done without being asked
- Staying calm when siblings are being annoying
- Staying away from inappropriate thoughts and words online
Have the teens break into your small groups and answer these questions
- What are some of the crosses in your life right now?
- Does it help to see our response to these challenges as an act of love instead of just doing them because we have to?
- How can we support each other as we carry our crosses?
Have each teen make a small cross by fastening two twigs together with twine. Instruct them to take these home with them and place them where they will see them. These crosses should serve as a reminder to carry their crosses willingly out of love.
Close with a prayer.