Jesus and baby chicks— Weekly Christian ed lesson

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One of the questions that children often bring up as we move towards Easter is “did Jesus have to die?” It’s a simple question with a variety of complicated and complex answers. Scripture readings like this week’s lectionary text offer an opportunity to wonder about possible answers. In today’s lesson, children will explore Luke 13:31-35. They will wonder about the purpose of Jesus’ ministry on earth and will reflect on what it means for Jesus to care for them as a mother hen cares for her chicks.

Starting off

Begin your time with the children by showing them these short videos: Video 1, Video 2. After watching the videos, ask the children to share what they think is happening in each. In the first video, a mother hen is foraging for food with her chicks. She then draws then under her wings to protect them from the wind. In the second, a hen chases a cat that she believes might harm her chicks. Encourage the children to keep these images in mind as they listen to the Scripture reading.

Prepare to read Luke 13:31-35 aloud. Share that this story takes place later in Jesus’ ministry. He has traveled throughout the region teaching, preaching, and healing. Many people are drawn to his message. They flock to see him. Others, including some religious leaders, find his ministry dangerous. They hear him offering different messages than what they have taught. They do not believe that God is calling people to do many of the things Jesus tells them about. Still, Jesus continues teaching. He tells stories and speaks about difficult topics, including his own death. In today’s story, he again talks about what God has told him will happen to him.

Exploring the passage

Read Luke 13:31-35 aloud. Ask the children to recount what the Pharisees say to Jesus at the beginning of the reading. Note that they warn him he is in danger. King Herod feels threatened by Jesus. Some people are saying Jesus is the new king. Herod worries that the people will overthrow him and will replace him with Jesus.

Continue asking the children how Jesus responds to this warning. Share that he says he knows when he will die. His death will happen in the city of Jerusalem, a place he has not yet come to. Jerusalem is an important city for the people of God. It is the place where the Temple is located. Many Israelites traveled to Jerusalem on holidays to celebrate their faith and to make offerings to God at the temple. It is considered the most holy city for the people of God. And it is here, Jesus says, he will die.

Jesus not only predicts his death; he also says tells the Pharisees what his goal was for the people of Jerusalem. He tells the Pharisees, “How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” Ask the children what they think Jesus means when he says that he wanted to gather people together just as a hen gathers baby chicks (her brood) under her wings. Encourage them to connect what they learned in the videos to Jesus’ words. Note when a mother hen draws chicks under her wings, she is caring for or protecting them. She might be keeping them warm, or she might be hiding them from predators. Jesus wants to do the same for us.

Relating the passage to our lives

To help the children connect the image Jesus uses in this lesson to their own lives, lead them in this art activity. Prior to the lesson, gather the materials the children will need: crayons or markers and scissors. Also, print out enough copies of an outline of a baby chick for each child to receive one or more copies. You can use this template or another you find online or draw.

Hand out one or more paper chicks to each child. Ask them to think of the ways that God cares for us. They can draw on their own experiences or Bible stories. Have them write or draw one way God cares for people on each paper chick using crayons or markers. Then, have them cut out the paper chicks. (If you’re working with young children, you may want to cut out the chicks before the activity.)

After each child had completed her chick(s), place all of them together. Examine all of the ways God cares for creation. You may choose to hang these together on a wall or glue them on a sheet of chart paper. Offer a prayer of gratitude for God’s protective, loving care.