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Why Jesus? — Weekly Christian ed lesson

In this lesson, children will read John 3:17-21 and will consider why Jesus came to be God on Earth living amongst us.

Photo by J Yeo on Unsplash

Lesson background

Why do we have Jesus? Couldn’t God do what Jesus did? Are God and Jesus the same? These are all questions young disciples have asked me and they’re valid. Trinitarian theology is tricky for adults, but it is truly challenging for younger brains. Exploring Jesus’s unique characteristics can allow our young disciples to discover the relationship between the Creator and Redeemer. In this lesson, children will read John 3:17-21 and will consider why Jesus came to be God on Earth living amongst us.

What you will need

  • A Bible
  • “Same or Different” game cards (Cut out cards along the lines)
  • Light of the world activity: black construction paper and light-colored crayons (white and pastels) (optional)
  • What is love?: a computer with Internet access connected to a television or data projector, “Kids on Love!” video, construction paper hearts, and crayons or markers (optional)

Starting out

Greet the children as they arrive.

“Same or Different” game

Tell the children they will be playing a game where they will decide whether two things are the same or they are different. They will indicate that the two things are different by holding their index fingers together. They will show they are different by holding their index fingers apart.

Hold up each card. Have the children discuss why they think the pair of words are the same or different. If there is a discrepancy in the group, explore why. Note that many things we consider the same are just alike. They have similarities, but they are not the same.

Hearing and exploring the story

Prepare to read aloud John 3:16-21 aloud. (Note: The Gospel lectionary reading for this week is John 3:14-21. We’ve chosen to remove verses 14-15.)

Provide the children with context for the reading:

  • This reading comes from the New Testament Gospel of John.
  • In this passage, Jesus is speaking to a man named Nicodemus. Nicodemus was a religious leader who was curious about what Jesus was teaching people. While many other leaders disliked and rejected Jesus’ message because it was so different from what they knew, Nicodemus wanted to learn more. He meets Jesus one evening to ask him questions.
  • Jesus uses the ideas of “light” and “dark” to explain why he was sent by God. Encourage the children not to view this language as “good” and “bad.” Focus on the “light” Jesus brings.

Read aloud John 3:16-21.

After reading, ask:

  • Why does God (Creator) send Jesus to live on earth with God’s people?
  • What relationship does Jesus have with God?
  • What do you think Jesus means when he says he brings light to the world?
  • What do you think Jesus means when he says those who believe will have eternal life?

Connecting the story to our lives

To help the children connect Jesus’ words to their own lives and experiences, invite them to engage in one or more of the following activities:

  • Light of the world: Gather the materials you’ll need for this activity: black construction paper and light-colored crayons (white and pastels). Remind the children Jesus describes himself as “the light.” Light helps us see, so we can do the things we need to do. Have the children wonder what Jesus helps people see about the world and what Jesus helps them do. Give each child a sheet of black construction paper and crayons. Ask them to draw pictures of their ideas. Have each child share their drawing with the rest of the group.
  • What is love?: Gather the materials you’ll need for this activity: a computer with Internet access connected to a television or data projector, “Kids on Love!” video, construction paper hearts, and crayons or markers. Remind the children of Jesus’ words in John 3:16. Focus on the word “love.” Show the video. After watching the video, ask the children to share their own definitions and perceptions of love. Then, ask them how their views on love compare to God’s. What does God’s love look like? How does God love the world? Hand the children paper hearts. Ask them to use the crayons or markers to draw or write about God’s love. Encourage them to draw on stories from Jesus’ life that demonstrate God’s love.

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