Jesus Predicts His Suffering (Mark 8:27-37) Sunday School Lesson

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Life isn’t easy. This is no surprise to most of us, but we sometimes hope to shelter kids from the challenges that surround us. It’s important to share with children that, although this world has trials, God is with us through them and helps us with them. This lesson is a reminder that we can’t argue with God’s plan. We don’t always understand His will and His ways, and things might not go as we’d hope. However, everything happens for a reason, and we can trust that God has our best in mind in the end, and He gives us strength for the journey. 

Download the complete Mark 8:27-28 lesson plan from the Sunday School Store.

 We don’t always want to hear about denying ourselves and suffering for the sake of Christ. After all, doesn’t God love us? Shouldn’t a Christian life be full of blessing? This passage can be a hard one to swallow, but it’s important to recall that the Lord is with us through all that happens. In fact, Jesus suffered most of all, giving His own life for us. Because of that suffering, we know He walks with us through hard things and understands them. Jesus paid the ultimate price and fulfilled God’s plan for salvation. We can trust that God’s plan for our lives will come to great things in the end, even if we walk through challenges.

A Challenge Worth Taking: Jesus Shares Tough Truths – Sunday School Lesson: Mark 8 and God’s Puzzling Plans

Passage: Mark 8:27-38

Target Audience: Kindergarten-6th grade 

Materials Needed: Jigsaw puzzles; construction paper; decorative supplies; glue; markers or crayons; tape; scissors; paper bags; string; Bibles. 

Lesson Opening: This passage reminds us that God’s plan is good, and we can trust in Him. It also reflects the challenges of life as a Christian, but promises the hope that Jesus has been through hard things, and is with us. Start with an activity that uses these themes and gets kids thinking: 

  • Puzzle race: provide students (individual or groups) with jigsaw puzzles, and invite them to race to put them together. For added challenge, don’t provide the picture that goes with the puzzle.  Explain that God’s plan can be like a puzzle, but in the end He has the big picture in mind.
  • Who is Jesus? Discuss different jobs and roles that people have (employee, family member, etc.). Talk about different things that Jesus did and ways He continues to fulfill special roles for us. 
  • What does it cost? Have students come up with special items that they would wish to have or buy if possible. Identify how much each thing costs, and do a quick search to find out the cost if necessary. Emphasize that all things have a price.
  • It’s debatable! Have students break into two “debate teams” and provide a controversial topic. Assign each team a side and have them argue about which one is correct. Encourage kids to argue, and explain that someone in the story tried (unsuccessfully) to argue with Jesus. 
  • Carry the cross relay: Have a large cross (or other heavy/bulky item) for students to carry back and forth across a playing area. Assign relay teams and have kids take turns carrying the cross (literally) back and forth. Talk about what it might mean to “carry the cross” in a spiritual sense when it comes to discipleship with Christ. 

Explain that the Gospel passage for this lesson involves a tough conversation that Jesus had with His disciples. Sometimes it’s hard for us to hear things in the Bible, but important as well. We know that, no matter what, God loves us and is with us, and has great plans for our lives.

Bible Lesson: Mark 8:27-37

This passage contains a conversation with Christ and important (but hard to swallow) words of Him. Students can reenact the verses or read them out loud. Teachers can read out loud for younger audiences. 

And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” 29 And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” 30 And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.  -Mark 8:27-30

Jesus repeatedly tried to explain to His disciples who He was, but they didn’t always understand. Others around Jesus didn’t understand who He was, either. Some people said He was a prophet, like Elijah or John the Baptist. They thought He was a teacher and saw His miracles, but didn’t always realize or believe that He was God. Peter confessed boldly and plainly that Jesus was “the Christ.” Of course, we now know who He is and why He came, but at the time they were still learning. 

Ask: What do you say if people ask you about Jesus? How would you describe who He is?   

And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”  -Mark 8:31-33

This sounds like a hard conversation with Jesus. I probably wouldn’t be too happy if a friend called me “Satan”! Peter didn’t understand the big picture of God’s plan. When he heard Jesus talking about suffering and death, he thought this was absurd and didn’t want to hear it. A death plan never sounds good. He tried to pull Jesus aside and argue that He should quiet down, and Jesus rebuked him. Jesus tried to point out that Peter didn’t have God’s plan in mind. He knew his disciple couldn’t comprehend what God was doing, but tried to encourage him to trust in his Messiah. There was a greater plan at work.  

Ask: Have you ever argued with a friend? What helps in those situations?  

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.  -Mark 8:34-35

Now Jesus is making a grand announcement to everyone. Anyone who wants to follow Him must be willing to give up his/her own life. There is a cost of discipleship. It’s not always easy to be a Christian, and we need to know that sacrifice might be involved. But there’s a blessing promised within these words, too: “whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” This doesn’t mean we earn our salvation, of course. Jesus has taken care of the hard part. But we can remember that it’s not all about our lives right now. We might lose things that are of earthly value, but we’ll gain much richer treasures in Heaven. It’s worth it to set aside temporal things for eternal ones!

Ask: Can you think of a sacrifice you’ve made for something important? Why was it worth it?  

For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”  -Mark 8:36-38

Ask: How can we follow Jesus? 

Sometimes the things we think matter a lot aren’t as important as we imagine. We want to cling to things of this world, but forget that there are much greater things awaiting us. For kids, this means knowing that God has a wonderful plan for us. Sometimes we go through tough things in life, which are never pleasant. We don’t always understand what God is doing. But He has a plan. Because of Jesus, we know He keeps His promises and has good plans for us. We can trust in Him and follow His word, even when it’s hard, because He is with us. Jesus shared some challenging words in this passage, but we know He loved and helped people. He loves and helps us, too, and we can hope in His words, knowing that He is the way to life, now and for eternity!

with prayer, thanking God for Jesus and asking Him to help us trust in and follow Him.                

1 thought on “Jesus Predicts His Suffering (Mark 8:27-37) Sunday School Lesson”

  1. I can hardly wait to go through these lessons and get prepared to teach again! Thank you so much for the lessons you offer for free. I’m 72 years old and finally able to start teaching again, now that we have a family with young children coming to church again. My husband and I are on a very limited budget, so your free offerings are a true blessing. I will continue to peruse your website in order to gain more ideas. Even if I can’t afford some of the lessons offered, I can read through them, take notes, and adapt what works for me. Thanks again, and may our Lord Jesus Christ continue to bless your ministry.

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