From an early age, we are told God provides for our needs. In the Lord’s Prayer, we ask God to “give us our daily bread.” Much of our mission work as Christ’s disciples reflects our desire to see that all God’s children have what they need to live. Rarely, though, do we talk about God being extravagant—and yet, Jesus’ first miracle is over the top. While Jesus could have just provided the guests at the wedding in Cana with average wine, he goes above and beyond making it the “good stuff.” In this lesson, children will discover God’s generosity and will explore ways they can mirror it in their own lives.
Begin your time with the children by asking them what it means to be generous. What does generosity look like? When have you been generous? When has someone been generous to you? Note that generosity usually involves going above and beyond what is expected or needed. Being generous doesn’t necessarily mean denying oneself in a harmful way. Rather it is a stretch. For example, you can share the food you have generously without going hungry. You might give someone else more than you keep for yourself.
Prepare to read aloud John 2:1-11. Share with the children that the story they are about to hear recounts the first miracle that Jesus performed. In the story, the children will hear about Jesus turning water into wine. During the time period when the story takes place, people were very concerned about hospitality. When one had guests at an event like a wedding, the host was expected to provide all that would be needed for the guests to enjoy themselves, including food and drink. People often drank wine for celebrations but also because it was safer to drink than water. When someone had a wedding or a party, they might serve their best wine first so that the guests would know that the hosts were offering their very best to them. Later on in the evening, they’d serve lower quality wine because the guests would have drunk enough of the good wine to not notice its quality. Encourage the children to keep this information in mind as they hear this story.
Exploring the passage
Read aloud John 2:1-11. Ask the children to recount what miracle Jesus performs at the wedding. What is unique about the wine that Jesus creates out of the water? Share that Jesus doesn’t just turn the water into wine. He turns it into the best wine! Have the children wonder why Jesus might have done this. Why does he make sure the wine is “good wine” even though the guests would have expected to receive inferior wine at this point in the party?
Then talk about what Jesus’ action tells us about him. He does not initially want to turn water into wine. Why does he decide to do so? Certainly, someone could have gone to get more wine or the hosts could have told the guests that they had nothing more to serve. Note that this act indicates not only Jesus’ willingness to act on behalf of God’s people but also his desire to generously care for them. He gives them the best wine possible.
Relating the passage to our lives
Help the children connect the idea of God’s generosity to their own lives. Share with them that we are not likely able to change water into wine. However, we can reflect the generosity Jesus shows to the wedding guests in our actions.
Ask the children to brainstorm ways they can be generous like Jesus. How can go beyond simply making sure someone’s basic needs are met? Then ask them to select a generous act to undertake in the next week. If you’re working with a group of children, they can choose an action to carry out together, commit to performing the same act individually, or each select an action that “speaks” to them.
Have each child make a plan for how they will carry out this generous act. Who will be the recipient of their generosity? What supplies or materials will they need? Who will they need help from? Also, discuss what some of the joys and challenges of their generosity might be.
If you’re able, check in with the children after they have completed their actions. Encourage them to reflect on the experience and to notice where God was in the act. Was their experience like the one Jesus had? Did the person or people they were generous to respond the same way that the wedding guests and steward did?