Mark 8:31-38

Ice Breaker: Signs 

This game looks complicated but is actually very easy to play.  The circle you sit in for the game will work well for the lesson ahead. The point of the game is to share signs around the circle without the person in the middle catching you.  If you are caught on your turn, you go into the middle.

Set up:

  • Sit in a circle.  We have done circles of 6 to as large as 20.
  • Each student needs to come up with a simple sign they can make using their hands but making no sounds.  For example: swipe across the forehead, awkward turtle, pulling on their ear, scratching their elbow, etc.
  • After signs are chosen and shared so that everyone is aware of each other’s signs, one person goes into the middle.

To Play:

  • After someone is in the middle, choose someone else to start.
  • The person in the middle closes their eyes and counts to 10 so the signs can begin.
  • While the middle person is counting, the signs begin.
  • The starter makes their sign and then “sends” a sign by doing the sign for someone else.
  • That person “receives” the sign by making their own sign then “sends” by doing the sign for someone else.  This can take some time…you might receive your sign by making it, but then have to wait a while until the person in the middle turns or isn’t watching.
  • After the person in the middle finishes counting, they open their eyes and watch for signs being sent and received….they can turn and move around the circle as needed.  They can guess who has “it” as often as they like until they are right.
  • The sending and receiving continues randomly around the circle until someone is caught between the “receive” and “send” or making a sign.
  • Note:  It is your turn until the person you have sent the sign to receives it – therefore, just because you have sent the sign does not mean your turn is over. If you are asked if you have the sign, you must say yes and go in the middle if the receiving of the sign hasn’t happened.

Important Rules:

  • Signs need to be silent
  • You receive and send signs.
  • If you are caught, you go in the middle.
  • Note:  As students get good at being sneaky, the person in the middle can be there a while.

Lesson Starter:


  1. Have you ever had to step in to help someone?  What happened?
  2. How did you know to step in?
  3. How did the person you were trying to help react? 

This stepping in is called intervention. Intervention is an action taken to improve a situation. It can look different depending on the situation, from a hand on the arm of someone who is about to cross the street in front of a car, to a family meeting to talk to another family member about their substance abuse problem.

Bible Study: 
As we look at a passage in Mark today, we will look further into the process of intervention. 

Read Mark 8:31-38 aloud.

  1. What do you think this passage is saying?
    1. Who is talking?
    2. Read Mark 8: 31.  If you were a disciple, how might it feel to hear Jesus say these things? How might you have reacted?
    3. What does rebuke mean?
    4. Peter rebukes Jesus.  Have you ever told someone in charge they were wrong?  How did it go?
  2. Read Mark 8:27-30. 
    1. What did Peter claim about Jesus in these verses?
    2. How might this claim have confused Peter as Jesus shares what we find in verse 31?
  3. What happens that causes Jesus to call Peter, "Satan?"
  4. Where might we see an intervention happening in this passage? Who is intervening for whom?  Why do you think so? 

After speaking with Peter, Jesus addresses the whole group.  He teaches them a critical element in following him.  

Read (again) Mark 8:34-38  

  1. What is Jesus telling his disciples here?
  2. Why are these ideas so critical for the disciples to understand?
  3. What might Peter really need to learn from this?
  4. What do you think the word submission means in this passage?
    • Now look at verses 34-35.  How might these verses connect to submission?
    • Carry our cross – submitting to the hard, painful life that following Jesus may bring
    • Deny ourselves – submitting to God’s control
    • And following Jesus - submitting our lives to his direction 
  5. What do you like to control in your life?
  6. What do you wish you had control of that you don’t?
  7. Which of the three areas of a disciple is hardest for you?  Why? 

Intervention is a hard step to take as it forces us to look at the issue/sin/problem and face it as well as take steps to deal with it by allowing Jesus to be in control and help us get past the sin/issue/problem. 

When we do this, we allow Jesus to walk with us, strengthen us, and we live into the promise of the resurrection and eternal life.  Jesus promises that when we willingly give up our lives and do whatever it takes, no matter how hard, he will help us find healing. Jesus tells us in the book of John, that the Son sets us free.

To get hands on with the lesson, try the straining pulp illustration from the Youth Worker Collective (

The cross is the ultimate intervention. Jesus intervened for Peter and he does the same for us. Spend some time thinking through the following questions. Write your answers on the paper. 

  1. How do you need Jesus to intervene today?
  2. What or who has control in your life?

 Have each person share their answers one at a time, and have another student pray over them.  (This can take a while depending on how students share.  There is power in sharing so don’t be afraid of the depth that may come.) 

If your group isn’t ready for this kind of vulnerability, you can have students pray individually and close the group in prayer, bringing the students’ thoughts before God.

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