Youth Ministry Lesson on Matthew 21:23-32: Exploring the Power of Obedience in our Faith Journey

As teenagers, growing in faith can sometimes feel challenging. We face questions, doubts, and pressures from the world around us. In Matthew 21:23-32, Jesus teaches us about the importance of obedience and how it can transform our faith. This passage invites us to examine our hearts, consider the authority of Jesus, and embrace the transformative power of obedience. Let’s dive into this topic and explore its relevance to our lives today.

Bible Reading: Matthew 21:23-32

“When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

“What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.” (Matthew 21:23-32, NRSV)


  • Jesus’ authority questioned by religious leaders
  • Jesus challenges their understanding with a question about John the Baptist’s authority
  • The parable of the two sons emphasizes the importance of obedience over empty words
  • Jesus highlights the failure of the religious leaders to recognize and believe in John’s message
  • Tax collectors and prostitutes, considered sinners by society, responded to John’s message with repentance and belief

Discussion Questions

  1. Why do you think the religious leaders questioned Jesus’ authority?
  2. How can doubts about Jesus’ authority affect our faith?
  3. Do you sometimes struggle with obedience? If so, why?
  4. What does the parable of the two sons teach us about obedience?
  5. How do you understand Jesus’ message about tax collectors and prostitutes entering the kingdom of God ahead of the religious leaders?

Bible Reading: James 1:22-25

“But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing.” (James 1:22-25, NRSV)


  • James encourages believers to be active in living out their faith
  • Being a hearer of the word without putting it into action is self-deception
  • Comparing the Word of God to a mirror that reveals our true selves
  • Emphasis on looking into the “perfect law” and persevering in obedience
  • Blessings come to those who are not only hearers but also doers of God’s Word

Discussion Questions

  1. Why is it important to be both hearers and doers of the Word?
  2. How can we avoid self-deception when it comes to our faith?
  3. What are some practical ways we can put God’s Word into action in our daily lives?
  4. How does looking into the “perfect law” bring freedom?
  5. In what areas of your life do you struggle most with being a doer of the Word?

Youth Group Game: “Obedience Relay”


  1. Divide the teenagers into teams of four or five.
  2. Set up a relay course with various stations representing different obedience challenges.
  3. Each team member will take turns completing a task at each station, which will test their obedience skills. These tasks can include following specific instructions, solving puzzles, or completing physical challenges.
  4. The team that successfully completes all the stations with the most obedience and teamwork wins the game.

Closing Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank you for the lesson we have learned today about the importance of obedience in our faith journey. Help us to recognize your authority in our lives and to respond with willing obedience. Give us the strength and courage to be doers of your Word, not just hearers. Guide us in making choices that align with your will and lead us closer to you. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

By diving into Matthew 21:23-32 and James 1:22-25, we explored the significance of obedience in our walk with Christ. Through engaging discussions, thought-provoking questions, and a fun game, we aimed to encourage teenagers to grow in their faith through obedience. Remember, true faith is demonstrated by our actions. Let us strive to be obedient followers of Christ, letting His authority shape our lives.

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