Youth Ministry Lesson on Matthew 16:21-28: Embracing the Path

In the journey of faith, it’s crucial for teenagers to understand what it means to follow Jesus wholeheartedly. In Matthew 16:21-28, we find a powerful conversation between Jesus and His disciples that challenges us to take up our cross and follow Him. This passage holds great significance for teenagers as it speaks directly to their desire for purpose, identity, and meaning in their lives. Let’s dive into this topic together and discover what it means to truly grow our faith as teenagers.

Bible Reading: Matthew 16:21-28

“From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. ‘Never, Lord!’ he said. ‘This shall never happen to you!’ Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.’ Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done. Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.'” (Matthew 16:21-28, NIV)


  • Jesus reveals His upcoming suffering, death, and resurrection to His disciples.
  • Peter’s response reflects his human understanding, but Jesus rebukes him for misunderstanding God’s plan.
  • Jesus emphasizes the importance of self-denial, taking up one’s cross, and following Him wholeheartedly.
  • Jesus highlights the eternal value of surrendering our lives for His sake and warns against pursuing worldly gain at the expense of our souls.
  • The passage concludes with the promise of Christ’s return and the reward for those who have faithfully followed Him.

Youth Group Discussion Questions:

  1. What emotions do you think the disciples felt when Jesus revealed His upcoming suffering and death? How would you have reacted in their shoes?
  2. Why do you think Peter’s response earned him a rebuke from Jesus? What can we learn from this interaction?
  3. What does it mean for us to deny ourselves and take up our cross in order to follow Jesus? How can we practically apply this in our daily lives?
  4. In what ways do you see people pursuing worldly gain at the expense of their souls today? How does this passage challenge our priorities and values?
  5. How does the promise of Christ’s return and the reward for faithful followers encourage you in your journey of faith?

Youth Group Game: “Cross It Out”

Materials needed: Whiteboard or large sheet of paper, markers.


  1. Divide the youth group into two teams.
  2. Draw a grid on the whiteboard or paper, with each cell containing a letter.
  3. Each team takes turns choosing a letter. When a letter is chosen, all team members must shout out a word that starts with that letter and relates to following Jesus (e.g., discipleship, surrender, faith).
  4. The team with the most unique and relevant words wins the round.
  5. Repeat the process for several rounds and tally the points to determine the overall winner.

Closing Prayer

Heavenly Father, we thank You for the opportunity to gather together as a youth group and explore Your Word. Help us to understand the importance of following Jesus wholeheartedly and surrendering our lives for His sake. Empower us to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and find true fulfillment in walking in Your ways. May Your Spirit guide and strengthen us as we navigate the challenges of our teenage years. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

[Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.]

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