In the Spanish language, there are two words for the verb “to know”: saber and conocer. To saber something refers to information or facts. We saber that the capital of California is Sacramento or that water freezes at 32 degrees.
But to conocer something refers to a more intimate level of knowledge. You can only conocer something if you are well-acquainted with it. You might conocer the sound of your best friend’s laugh or the details of your childhood bedroom.
For some students in your youth group, they have grown up with a healthy dose of information about Jesus. They have faithfully been taught the Bible, attended Sunday School, and can sing the Ten Commandments song with ease. It’s a gift to know about Jesus, no doubt. But can we say that these students also know Jesus himself? Is theirs a saber or a conocer kind of knowing?
Other students might know next to nothing about Jesus. When you ask them to turn to Matthew, they frantically flip through their Bibles, unsure of where that is. They are confused when you use words like ‘“sin,” “grace,” and “incarnation.” These students might have a genuine desire to conocer know Jesus, but also need some basics of saber knowing him.
If you desire to form lifelong faith in your students, perhaps the first and most important step is to introduce them to Jesus. Teach them to know not just about Jesus, but to know him intimately and personally. Help your students see that knowing Jesus— with both their head and their heart— changes everything.
Enter Rooted’s new curriculum “Knowing Jesus”: a study for middle and high schoolers exploring 10 key truths about the person of Jesus. This study will develop students’ saber knowledge of Jesus. They’ll learn the where, when, and how of his ministry. But more importantly, it will develop their conocer knowledge as well, leading to a lasting and transformative friendship with Jesus.
As you plan your summer teaching series or look towards the fall, here are three reasons to consider studying “Knowing Jesus” with your youth group:
We Cannot Trust Whom We Do Not Know
I’m not a parent, but one thing I do know is that it would never be a good idea to leave my child alone with a babysitter I didn’t know. If I don’t know them, I couldn’t trust them. Neither my child nor I would feel secure or comfortable in a stranger’s presence.
In this study, students will learn more about God’s character, seen specifically in the person and work of Jesus. As they learn more about his goodness, his justice, his kindness, and his forgiveness, students will come to see Jesus as someone they can trust with every detail of their lives. They’ll grow more comfortable in the presence of the One they’ve come to know and trust.
As students engage with Scripture, they’ll be reminded that God has never failed on the promises he’s made to his children. If we want our students to entrust their hearts, souls, minds, and lives to Jesus, we must first help them get to know him. As they do, they’ll grow to see that Jesus is only One worthy of all their trust.
To Know Him is to Love Him
It’s a wonderful thing to get to know someone: their story, their likes and dislikes, their odd quirks. But inevitably, the more you get to know someone, you are destined to learn at least one thing about them you don’t like, something as basic as they way they chew their food, or as important as the way they handle conflict. There is no way to avoid glimpsing their less-than-desirable qualities.
Not so with Jesus. Students will never find something not to love about him. As the saying goes, to know him really is to love him. In this study, students will see how he treats the least of these, how he fights for justice for the oppressed, and how he offers hope to the hopeless.
If you desire students’ faith to bear fruit in their lives, introduce them to Jesus. As they fall in love with Jesus, students will naturally be prone to give him their trust, obedience, and devotion.
And the even better news? We can never exhaust the depths of all who Jesus is. His greatness and majesty are unsearchable. Helping your students know Jesus is just the beginning of a lifetime of continual discovery of who Jesus is and what he’s done for them.
As important as school is, I can honestly say I’ve never needed to calculate the circumference of a circle or recite the periodic table in my adult life. While I no doubt gleaned problem-solving and critical thinking skills, there were a lot of things I learned that made little to no impact on my life.
Reading, on the other hand, is a skill I use every day. If I had never learned to read, I couldn’t pay my bills. Knowing how to string letters into words and words into sentences changed my life forever.
There is no knowledge more important for your students than the knowledge of who Jesus is. As Jesus asked Peter in Luke 9, who they say Jesus is— their Savior, Lord, Friend, Healer, and Redeemer— has the power to transform every inch of their lives.
In the Scriptures, Jesus never interacted with someone who wasn’t radically changed for the better. Just ask the woman at the well of John 4, the Gerasene demoniac in Luke 8, or the apostle Paul, to name a few. By the power of the Holy Spirit, students cannot help but be transformed as they interact with the living and active Word of God to learn more about who Jesus is and what that means for them.
Your student who wrestles with a pornography addiction will be transformed by meeting Jesus as her innocent sacrifice, the one who has borne all the weight of her sin and shame (Lesson 7). Your student who recently lost a parent will be transformed by learning that Jesus is his Risen Lord, the one who has triumphed over death and ushered in the promise of eternal life (Lesson 8). Your student who doubts God’s love for her will be transformed by knowing Jesus as her pre-existent Christ, the One who has been and will always be for her (Lesson 1).
As you walk with your students through “Knowing Jesus,” watch and see how a heart-level knowledge of Jesus cannot help but transform them from the inside out. Introduce them to Jesus and see how they grow in their knowledge, trust, and love of him. Pray for the saber students to become conocer students and for the skeptical students to become captivated students.
May you too, youth minister, be blessed to know Jesus more. May you be given fresh eyes to see that knowing him really does change everything.