Use one or both of these questions to introduce the lesson:
1. Who are some of the most admired people in the world today? What qualities lead to such admiration? What do you think people seek when following such celebrities?
2. If you were asked to list five people who changed the world for the better, who would be on your list? Defend each choice.
Read Mark 8:27-30.
1. Even today, some people cling to the idea that a famous person did not die but is still living out of the public eye. Give an example or two. What do you think motivates that kind of fantasy? How was the way people identified Jesus as a past hero like this (v. 28)?
2. A common idea in Jesus’ day was that Messiah would be a political leader who would overthrow Rome. See John 6:14, 15. With that in mind, why does it make sense that Jesus was not quick to want to be identified as Messiah?
Read Mark 8:31-33.
3. Matthew expands this account and tells that Jesus gave Simon two different “stony” names—Peter (the rock) and stumbling block (Matthew 16:18, 23). What idea about Jesus’ mission changed Simon Peter from being a foundation stone to loose gravel that causes others to fall?
4. Peter’s objection to Jesus’ talk of dying earned him an unwanted title—Satan! What does this say to those who only want to see Jesus as a good teacher?
Read Mark 8:34-38.
5. An old story tells of a hen and a pig discussing what they could give to a fundraising dinner. When the hen suggested ham and eggs, the pig pointed out that what was a donation for the hen was a total commitment for him! How does this story illustrate what Jesus demands of his disciples (vv. 34, 35)?
6. Look at the two questions in verses 36 and 37. Paraphrase these verses as statements rather than questions. What is the cost of a human soul?
7. Make two columns on a piece of paper. Label one column “casual admirer” and the other “devoted follower.” List characteristics of each under the proper heading. Decide which best describes you and any actions you can take in response.