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More Jesus help needed.....!!!

Discussion in 'Religious Education' started by GruffyMax, May 18, 2011.

  1. Hello all, can I pick your brains again?!
    We're getting onto who Jesus is for Christians, we've got 3 lessons (ish) on the concept of salvation. I thought we'd start with saving/natural disasters etc, but then we've hit a mental block!
    Theology is not my strong point, and I struggle with subject knowledge when teaching Christianity (I barely get my head around the Trinity!).
    So, firstly, how is Jesus a saviour for Christians? And secondly, how can I get my year 7s to understand it?!!
    I hope I haven't made myself sound completely incompetent!
  2. Hello all, can I pick your brains again?!
    We're getting onto who Jesus is for Christians, we've got 3 lessons (ish) on the concept of salvation. I thought we'd start with saving/natural disasters etc, but then we've hit a mental block!
    Theology is not my strong point, and I struggle with subject knowledge when teaching Christianity (I barely get my head around the Trinity!).
    So, firstly, how is Jesus a saviour for Christians? And secondly, how can I get my year 7s to understand it?!!
    I hope I haven't made myself sound completely incompetent!
  3. You need to introduce the concept of sacrifice along with the need for salvation.
    In a nutshell, Jesus was Jewish. Jewish belief was that God's perfect world was corrupted by sin, thus separating the human race from a perfect, Holy God.
    To mitigate the effects of sin, blood had to be shed and so sacrifices would be performed. Jews pracised animal sacrifice, unlike many/most of their contemporaries who would sacrifice humans.
    There are 2 key stories in the Bible which Christians draw upon to explain the death of Jesus.
    1. The simple one - Moses and the flight from Egypt. The blood of the lamb saved the Jews from the Angel of death. Jesus is the 'lamb of God' and a relationship on earth with him now means his blood will save the believer from eternal death/separation from God.
    2. Much more complicated and maybe too hard for year 7 depending on the time you have - once a year, on the day of Atonement, Jews would repent of their sins in the Temple and amongst many other elaborate rituals and shedding of blood which took place, the 'scape goat' would then symbolically carry the sins of the people out of the temple and into the wilderness where it would die. This lasted until the following year when it would be repeated.
    When Jesus died on the cross, he was perfect - he had committed no sin. Therefore his sacrifice could be for the whole human race and did not need repeating. All that is required is the believer, as an act of faith, commits their lives to him and tries to live a life which pleases him.
    Hope that helps your understanding if not your lesson plans!

  4. This is a brief response as I have to sign off.
    Have a look at this website:
    The diagram is one I have used with my groups and talked about how Jesus is the way of bridging the gap that sin has created between God and people.
    You need to look at the big story with the Bible and think about how it begins and why Jesus had to come and be a sacrifice for sin but keep it simple too!
    You could spend a lesson (or several!) on the resurrection and the symoblism and hope included in it - that those who believe in Jesus will be able to share in that and have eternal life.
  5. Helena Handbasket

    Helena Handbasket New commenter

    I would maybe link in the story of Abraham - he loved God so much he was willing to sacrifice his son like God loved human kind so much he was willing to sacrifice his son to save us.
  6. Wow, thanks for all your help. So great ideas and I really appreciate your help!
    Now, 3 lessons isn't enough is it?! [​IMG]
  7. durgamata

    durgamata Occasional commenter

    I would question who drew up this syllabus because I don't usually tackle the concept of salvation until KS4 and even then it is not easy. Many year 7 children know nothing at all about Christianity and some of the more 'atheist-disaffected' element are just asking, 'Why do we have to study RE when we know that science has proved that God doesn't exist and we don't want to be a priest.'

    When I start teaching Christianity I begin with the questions, 'Who was Jesus? and Did he really exist?'

    We look at evidence for him outside the Bible (Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius etc)

    This proves that he was indeed a historical figure. But who he was, his significance, is a question of belief.
    Secular people (who are not interested in questions about God and religion) may think he was just an ordinary man. But then why is he still remembered and why does he continue to have such a strong part in the lives of so many people today?

    You could use that as a lead in to the question of salvation but I think it is totally inappropriate for year 7 to be thinking about that.

    When I do a unit on Salvation I ask the question of 'What is most important to you?' Is there anything you would risk your life to save if it were in danger?

    Jesus spoke the truth about God, from his own experience. it mattered so much to him that he remained true to it even when it meant that he upset powerful people and they were ready to silence him by killing him.

    Christians are people who believe that Jesus was not 'just a good person' but that in him, God took human life. So Jesus was both human and divine. Why should God be ready to die like that - to suffer a really agonising, torture and slow painful death?

    Many Fundamentalist Christians believe the Bible is the word of God in a literal way. They argue that God is all powerful and absolutely good. So if He wanted us to have a different Bible, He would not have given us this one.

    They would agree that the Bible is a complicated collection of many books, written over a period of more than a thousand years and collecting together stories that are even more ancient - older than the written word itself.

    But while liberal Christians would say that because of this we need to interpret the writings in the Bible, according to the time in which they were written - and the intention of the authors, Fundamentalist Christians argue that God is the boss and He has the Power. So He was guiding, inspiring and speaking through all the different authors of the books of the Bible. And because of that it is perfectly true.

    As long as the year 7's can understand that - and it's not particularly easy, but is at least straight forward (and you can illustrate it by comparing different ways that people in the class may approach things .... that's something I'll think about before giving some examples) then you can say that Salvation is something that different Christians understand in different ways.

    Fundamentalist Christians may believe that when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden apple in the Garden of Eden, this 'sin' was inherited by all their descendants, so some Fundamentalists believe that all human beings are born sinful. The only way to be forgiven or saved from this sin is by accepting the sacrifice of God - in Jesus.

    They may pray with the ancient words, 'O Holy Lamb Of God, That Takest Away The Sins Of The World, Have Mercy Upon Us.'

    They get a feeling of peace and reassurance from this belief that no matter what mistakes they may make in their lives, God has forgiven them. Jesus has already 'paid the price' in his death and resurrection.

    The text, 'God So Loved The World That He Gave His Only Begotten Son' is another relevant text.

    And the fact that Jesus died such an agonising death, comforts many Christians when they suffer or are in pain. They know that Jesus is with them, even in 'the depths of this human hell.'

    You can read some extracts from Corrie Ten Boom's book 'The Hiding Place'

    I remember when she and her sister were sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp, for example, their hut was full of fleas. When she complained about that, her sister said you have to thank God for everything, but she would not thank God for the fleas. Then, because of the fleas, they found that the guards never came into the Hut, so they could talk freely there and they held Bible classes and were able to really support the other suffering people.

    And when they were stripped naked they remembered how Jesus was stripped before being crucified....

    Try to get away from the theory and into examples of Christians lives and what they understood by Salvation.

    I know many pluralists like myself who might argue that it is God's Revelation, God's Revealed Light which saves. And that is found at the heart of every religion. In Christianity it was revealed in the life of Jesus, His cosmic, timeless, eternal Spirit, and not just the 33 or so years of his human life as the son of Joseph the carpenter. That is why he is remembered still, powerful in the world still. His Existence is a like a force of goodness. But to be connected to it, to receive it, you need to believe in him and make that connection of faith.

    It's like knowing there's food in the fridge. To actually eat the food you have to open the fridge door and take out the food. Then you need to prepare it and put it in you mouth.

    With year 7 you need lots of examples and comparisons. And make it clear to them that Christians differ in the way that they interpret Salvation. Some say that only the people who belong to their particular 'sect' or denomination are saved. Others say that Salvation is God's Power and all the religions are full of God's Power. But even within a religion there will be hypocrites who are not living their lives according to God's Power - they may think that they are 'saved' but they may not be.

    There's one text where Jesus said that he won't recognise everyone who calls him 'Lord.' so sincerity and action in response to faith are needed, not just the right words.

    It may not be the right place to introduce it but it could be useful to consider what is meant by words like Heaven and Hell, whether the concept of reincarnation - which gives everyone lots more chances to get things right - may be part of the picture - and the most essential thing which is WE JUST DON'T KNOW what happens when we die. But what is clear from all the religions is that there are consequences to our actions. You could say that Salvation goes alongside Judgement. But Forgiveness is also part of the picture./p

    Get them to think about their own lives, their own families, and when their parents may have used judgement and punishment or the power of love and forgiveness. Make every effort to find ways of bringing the 'learning from' element as well as the 'learning about.'/p

    I could go on but teaching in less than half an hour and I have to get there first!!!

    Born April 15, 1892, in Amsterdam, Holland. Youngest of 3 sisters, 1 brother. Father: watchmaker. Raised in Dutch Reformed church. Well schooled. Both parents lived into adulthood. Childhood distinctions: tomboyish, stubborn. Never married. 1892 family moved to 'Beje' house in Haarlem. 1903 witnessed at aunt's soldier center. 1910 studied two years at Bible school. 1915 jilted by rake Karel. 1918 family took in first of many children. 1919 mother died. 1920 ca. passed Bible school exam. 1920 began training as watchmaker. 1922 first woman watchmaker licensed in Holland. 1923 organized first girls' club. 1930's girls' clubs became very large Triangle Club. 1940 Nazis invaded, banned her club organization. 1942 family very active in Dutch underground hiding refugees. 1944 arrested with entire family, sent first to Dutch prisons, finally to notorious Ravensbruck in Germany. 1945 released days after sister Betsie died, returned to Holland to begin rehabilitation centers. 1946 returned to Germany, beginning many years of itinerant preaching in over 60 countries, writing many books. 1971 fame from The Hiding Place. 1975 movie version of The Hiding Place. 1977 moved to America, wrote devotionals, made movie shorts. 1978 paralyzed by stroke. Died April 15, 1983 on 91st birthday
  8. This is what I mean about adding "many", "some" etc to every sentence not really achieving anything. If you don't beleive the Bible is the word of God in a literal way, are you a fundamentalist Christian? (We can quibble about whether "fundamentalist", or "literalist" is the best word to use, "fundamentalist" has achieved more currency.)
    With a population of many tens of millions of fundamentalist Christians, you will surely find one or two who aren't literalists but describe themselves as "fundamentalists". But they are very few in number, and maybe, we could argue, they are simply using the wrong word to describe themselves. Do they really justify the use of "Many"?

  9. I'm new to the school this year and there's been some upheaval in the RE department. We're currently developing our SoW as there wasn't any that were suitable as they were and this is one of the original units that we're trying to plan lessons for.
    I think, seeing as we're both a bit stuck at how to teach this at yr 7 level you might be right about its appropriateness for yr 7. I just wanted to ensure we had enough Christianity in the curriculum.
    We've done some lessons on belief & evidence and linked these to Jesus - if we didn't go down the salvatuon route what would you suggest?
    Thanks again for your help and ideas,
  10. durgamata

    durgamata Occasional commenter

    My view is that our young people know so little about Christianity that it needs to be quite a simple overview - Who was Jesus, was he a real person (which I think you have done) where did he live and when. How do we know about him - what is the Bible its composition (different books - there is not a lot to gain from memorising the books but it is useful for them to see how much of the Bible is made up of the Old Testament - (which is the Jewish Holy Books - partly included because Jesus was Jewish and partly because Christians believe he was the promised Messiah), and which four books actually record something of his life and teachings. Then we look at different genres of writing, (If there is a class set of Bibles you can do a nice exercise teaching them how to look up texts which identifies different genre or key information. You can even make it give the words needed for a crossword puzzle. At the same time they get a flavour of what the different books are about. It is important to understand, for example, that the earliest books are Oral Tradition. I don't use the word 'Myth' as in ordinary usage it tends to mean a bit of a fairy story, something that is not true. And Oral Tradition is full of truth. It is just not the kind of genre we often use because our society is so dominated by literacy and science.

    This is quite a good point to introduce a study of four or five Creation Stories from different cultures.

    It's also quite a good time to use an exercise I like where you take a time machine journey back to Stone Age and find out what the people believe. The students can take the role of Wise Elders of their tribe and answer some difficult questions about life, death, suffering and natural disasters, all from the position of absolutely no background knowledge from books or scientific understanding. They find that they have to use story and symbol.

    Another thing is to explore Christianity in their neighbourhood. I have sometimes set a series of research homeworks where students first draw a map of their home area and mark on it the places of worship. Then they choose one (usually a church) to make a study of. They find out information from the outside notice board including the name of the denomination, a contact name and phone number. (most churches have this on the notice-board) and a list of what happens there. Then they photograph and draw their church from the outside. Then I choose one or two which are among the most popular and contact the Vicar or Priest and arrange a class visit.

    We make a map on the classroom wall with markers to show the different places of worship and the photos and drawings all round. It's nice to use ribbon to link them to their location on the map. And it really helps the students appreciate the diversity of Christianity as there are usually a number of different denominations. Also it helps them to understand that religion is about life, about real people, about their own neighbourhood.

    For a visit I go to the place of worship well in advance and walk around looking at everything as if it is new. I take photos, draw pictures and ask questions of the Vicar or Priest. I make the information into a booklet which is like a treasure hunt. I am sure lots of you will be familiar with this approach. We talk about the visit and think of questions to ask before hand.

    On our visit, each student has a booklet to complete and they have about 20 minutes to look around and fill it in. Then we sit down in the church and the V/P tells us a bit about his own faith journey/the history of the church. Then the students ask their questions and if anyone wishes, they sometimes stay back with one of the teachers/adults in charge of the visit so that they can speak to the V/P in private.

    I remember one particular visit which was with year 7 when I was teaching at a special school for EBD. The church we went to was a High Church and the Vicar arranged for the organist to be there. He let our students light candles and say a prayer and he had incense burning in a thurible. The vicar was in his robes and he was really good at answering the questions in an honest way which the children could relate to. It was a great experience with stimulation for sight, sound, smell and touch. There was also a lot to think about.

    We had one young man who was an avid atheist, quite disaffected and hostile to the very idea of going on the visit. But when we got there he was drawn into the 'treasure hunt' and then just took part in everything. He had some good questions and was one of those who asked to stay behind and speak to the Vicar privately. I went back with the main party but the TA who stayed with the two or three children who asked to stay later said that he had told the Vicar that he was always in trouble at home. He didn't know why he behaved so badly. He didn't want to. He wanted to know how to change and how to get forgiveness. I don't know what the Vicar said, but the TA said that he actually skipped with happiness on the way back to school.

    The more practical and hands-on you can make it, the better the children will learn and understand - and the more they will enjoy their lessons. But do leave the 'technical stuff' such as sin, salvation, heaven and hell etc until year 9 or older when they have a more mature understanding of religion.
  11. I suppose it depends on what else you teach at KS3 on Christianity and whether you have units on religions or thematic units. I think a unit on Jesus - his life, teachings, miracles, parables gives some background for who he was an what his message is. Otherwise, a lot of the topics may be better to do thematically so that comparison can be made with other religions and allow access to higher levels.
  12. durgamata

    durgamata Occasional commenter

    Having been a GCSE examiner for many years I think that using generalisations is such a common error in exam question answering that we should use all opportunities to reinforce an awareness of the diversity of belief that exists at every level. In one church congregation you will find great diversity.

    A few years ago our school invited the GSUS BUS to come for a week.

    (The GSUS Bus, with its fully equipped multimedia learning centre has enabled our students to follow the lives of three young people, exploring the issues of rejection, fear and forgiveness. It uses Jesus' teachings to illustrate these important issues. Please see www.gsuslive.co.uk for more information)

    This is a great resource and got everyone thinking. When speaking to the crew who run this resource the people who came to our school were from the Pentecostal Church and would consider themselves Fundamentalist Evangelicals. But when you actually talked to them about their beliefs they were quite insightful and aware. They are young Christians living in our age, exposed to the same questions, news events etc as everyone else. And they would certainly be, while Fundamentalist, able to recognise the importance of interpretation. In respect to them and the thousands of similar people who belong to denominations which are of a Fundamentalist nature, I would always qualify any statement about them in this way.

    This encourages three things - Truth, Respect and real education (encouraging thought and discernment + hopefully getting better results in RE exams.
  13. durgamata

    durgamata Occasional commenter

    I agree but would keep that for year 8. In year 7 I would keep things a bit more general and where possible experiential, giving an overview of the subject of religion and the history/geography of the main religions, then looking at the part that religion has to play in the neighbourhood and lives of our students, with some visits, perhaps one in the spring and one in the summer terms. In year 8 I have often looked more deeply at each of the six main relligions, exploring Christianity just as you say above with

    In a Church school I have sometimes given out the Bibles and said, This is a big book. It is the most important book for Christians, but where might they start? Find the Old Testament and put one finger each side of it.

    The Old Testament gives the setting to what Jesus taught and who he was or is. But it is not directly about him. So we can leave that for now. That reduces the size of what we are looking at.

    Now find the New Testament. Put a one finger at the start and one at the finish. This is still a lot to read and understand. So where can we start?

    The New Testament gives some accounts of the life of Jesus but it also contains a lot of books about the early Church, If we are to find out what Jesus is teaching us, then we can leave the early church part for now and concentrate just on the four books which record something of what he did and taught while he was on earth. So find the Four Gospels. Put a finger before and after these. (Keep them all together for this exercise.

    This is much more manageable but still a lot to read, so where can we start, where can we find the best 'summary' of what Jesus was teaching? There are several important passages, but one of the best known is called 'The Sermon on the Mount.'

    In the Gospel of Matthew you look at Matthew 5 - 7. If Bibles are not strong in your resources, see -

    - http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+5-7&version=NIV

    Oh. I have got caught by a mischievous inspiration to look up the texts and prepare some resources which you may find useful. when teaching Christian topics to KS3, 4 or beyond. I feel such sympathy and concern for those of you who are not specialists or who didn't study Theology as I find it so useful to have a basic knowledge not of all the Bible but at least of the Gospels. And it is something that I have added to while teaching for over 20 years. So I am inspired to start a resource which is just headed Christianity resources.

    This will include lots of bits and pieces from these threads as well as some of my files from teaching Christian topics over the years. Hopefully I will add to it from time to time - and if you have good resources or ideas I can include these or give links to them.

    I do hope that some of this is useful. I find it helps a lot to show the variety in translations and also the similarities and differences of passages such as The Sermon on the Mount and The Sermon on the Plain, from Matthew and Luke respectively.
  14. [​IMG] Wow, thank you all so much!!
    Had a chat with the other teacher in the department and we're going to use some of the great ideas from this thread and spend some time on looking at Christianity more generally and the Gospels, basic stuff which I forget non religious students don't know!
    I'd just like say a huge thanks again for the advice, although I am an RE specialist my degree is more of sociological aspects of religion and I worry that my lessons/SoW can be more 'learning about' than 'learning from'!!

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