"I hear people talk about Jesus in sermons and oftentimes it's centered around theological stuff. In these Tuesday breakfast discussions, we talk about his life and what he was like as a person. I feel like I’m beginning to know the answer to the question ‘what would Jesus do?’ He’s becoming real to me.” That’s how a student in Florida, Kenny, explained his encounter with Jesus through The Person of Jesus—Student Edition, which officially releases in August.
Catching a vision for how Jesus lived as a human is a central theme in Paul Miller’s original The Person of Jesus study, and one that Robert Row, Student Ministries Coordinator and author of the new study, sought to draw out in the student edition.
Our culture offers an enticing view of humanity, and students are embracing it. Yet this generation is the most anxious, depressed, and lonely one in recent history.
“Our culture offers an enticing view of humanity, and students are embracing it. Yet this generation is the most anxious, depressed, and lonely one in recent history. There is mass confusion over what it means to be human. As followers of Jesus, we have the best vision of humanity to offer: the Person of Jesus. He is Humanity 2.0!”
Like the original study, the student edition takes scenes from Jesus’ life and puts the camera into slow motion. As the scene slows down, the study engages students’ imaginations to notice things we often miss in these familiar stories – how people are standing, what their eyes might be focused on, and other human elements of the scene.
Lessons are divided into three sections: Seeing Jesus, Seeing Self, and Becoming Like Jesus. To help students see themselves, Robert created new illustrations and stories — changing examples set in marriage or mid-career situations to sports stories, hallways at school, friendship dynamics, and relationships with parents. “We’re seeking to incarnate with students and enter their world,” shares Robert, “so that they can see Jesus and then go enter the world of their friends and family and reflect him.”
If students fall in love with the person of Jesus first, they will then fall in love with the truth he teaches.
“A lot of people are looking at the problem [of students leaving the faith] and proposing good solutions that boil down to teaching more truth.” Robert says, “Those solutions are good and right. But I believe the core of the problem is that we haven’t captivated their hearts with a love for Jesus. I didn’t fall in love with the ideal of marriage. I fell in love with a person named Rebecca, who became my wife. I fell in love with the person first and, secondarily, the truth about marriage. If students fall in love with the person of Jesus first, they will then fall in love with the truth he teaches.”
This new study for students is the first of five planned interactive Bible studies, but it’s only one piece of seeJesus’ discipling work with the next generation. “With the pivot to online studies last spring,” says Robert, “I’ve been able to lead cohorts of student ministry leaders around the country, and through that God has raised up a number of disciplers to work alongside of us. I’m excited about how that online discipling component can help us equip leaders all over the country.”
Robert’s heart for students and student ministry leaders comes from personal experience: “For many years, I was a youth pastor who gave my students a lot of good truth. It was only when I myself began to see and fall in love with Jesus that I realized what was missing.”
“Seeing the person of Jesus is more than a study or resource,” summarizes Robert. “It’s a paradigm shift that could make our churches beacons of hope and love in a dying world.”