Dotted throughout the complex storyline of Jesus lies a wealth of simple stories. Tales of lost sheep, praying widows and self-important Pharisees. To comprehend their meaning, you will require open eyes, listening ears and a heart ready to understand.
Storyline is a six-session teaching series, set out in the form of a menu with starters, main courses (divided into three spice levels) and a range of sides and desserts to explore. Due to the flexibility of the material, Storyline works as a whole church programme, content for a retreat, within small groups or as a youth series.
The condition of the heart
Jesus looked out at the expansive crowd gathered before Him. Why had they come to listen?
Dragged along by a friend? Searching for answers? Thirsty for more?
Each heart came with a different need, question and willingness to listen. We will never know the backstory of the crowd that gathered there that day, or the impact the words of Jesus would have on their heart. Some would never think of Jesus again, others would dedicate their lives to Him. The only difference was the condition of their heart.
SESSION 1 - LUB DUB
SESSION 2 - BLOT
The power of grace and forgiveness
Holding on tightly to the jar of perfume, she made her way across the room to Jesus. She must have known what they thought of her. As her tears mingled with the expensive scent and she dried the feet of Jesus with her hair, she must have sensed the looks of disgust from Simon the Pharisee. He had barely offered Jesus a drink let alone washed His feet.
Why was Jesus letting this woman touch him?
Responding to Simon, Jesus said:
“I tell you, her sins - and there are many - have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.”
As she washed away the dirt from Jesus’ feet, her faith and His forgiveness blotted out every stain.
SESSION 3 - KERCHING
The cost of discipleship
Surrounded by blueprints, bank statements and spreadsheets the entrepreneur scanned the plans for the biggest building project he had ever undertaken. Every possible calculation had been made and every financial option explored. Despite the meticulous planning this was going to take every single penny he had, but he knew it would be worth it.
Let’s be straight, Jesus asks for everything! It’s up to us whether, after counting the cost, we choose to follow Him. A life of discipleship costs us everything but it leads to a lifelong investment in a building project that is beyond anything we could dream or imagine.
SESSION 4 - TIC TOC
The way we invest our time and talents
The bags of silver had been handed out, the time had passed and now the three servants stood before their master. After a long and tiring trip, he was keen to see the return on his investment. How had the three servants used the gift they had been given? Had they invested it wisely so that it could flourish and grow, or had they buried it away out of fear that it had no real value? Surely none of his servants would do something like that. Now was the time to find out!
We are gifted with time, talents, money and relationships and yet sometimes we forget the source of all these blessings. We hide and discredit talents that we have been given while fearing what others will think. God’s love for us is not dependent on the things we do, but one day He’ll want to ask us what we did with His investment.
SESSION 5 - TWEET
The importance of prayer
The widow had been there many times before, standing in the doorway of the judge who was meant to protect her. Since her husband had passed away she had repeatedly called on the judge to listen and give her the justice she deserved. His cruel heart had turned her away. She made a choice. There would be no twittering on to friends about her dilemma and no one would stand before the judge instead of her. She would be persistent. She would be relentless. No matter what, she would make him listen to her.
If, through persistent requests for help, a cruel hearted judge was able to meet the needs of a widow, then surely a loving God is ready and waiting to do the same for us. He is longing to give us the love, security, justice and peace that we so desperately want. We just need to ask for it!
SESSION 6 - GLUG
The capacity for change
He knew this was a big mistake, but the others were determined to stick with what they had always done. As they poured the new wine into the old goatskins he continued to question the choice they were making, but they wouldn’t listen. They liked the old goatskins. They were familiar, comfortable. He knew that the rich new wine, full of flavour and depth, would expand and grow refusing to stay contained within the old goatskin. He knew that the bag would break and the new wine would wash away. His only option was to do things differently and reach for a brand new goatskin.
God is doing a new thing in our hearts, in our churches, and in our world. As He pours new wine into our lives, are we reaching for the old goatskin or offering a new life for Him to fill?