1st-2nd Grade Activities
Unit 19 • Session 5
Jesus as a Child
Bible Passage: Matthew 2; Luke 2
Story Point: Even as a child, Jesus wanted to do His Father’s plan.
Key Passage: John 1:1-2
Big Picture Question: Is Jesus God or a human? As the Son of God, Jesus is both fully God and fully human.
Leader Bible Study
The Gospel of Luke records just two narratives about Jesus’ childhood: His dedication (Luke 2:21-40) and His visit to the temple when He was 12 years old (Luke 2:41-52). The Gospel of Matthew includes another story: a visit from some wise men. These stories of Jesus as a child set the stage for Jesus’ ministry as an adult.
After Jesus was born, God put a star in the sky as a sign. Wise men from the east followed the star to Jerusalem, looking for a new king. They found Jesus, who was probably 1 or 2 years old, in Bethlehem and they worshiped Him as King. Later, Jesus and His family settled in Nazareth, where Jesus grew up.
In Bible times, a Jewish boy became a man at 13. His father would train him to take on all the responsibilities of adulthood—social and spiritual. Joseph was a carpenter, and he likely trained Jesus in his trade. When Mary and Joseph went to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, Joseph might have taken Jesus, who was about 12, around the city to teach Him the significance of the temple and to explain the purpose of the Passover feast.
Jesus’ parents headed home after the feast. They assumed Jesus was among their traveling companions, but He wasn’t. Jesus had stayed behind at the temple. A full day passed before Mary and Joseph noticed Jesus was missing. They hurried back to Jerusalem and finally found Him at the temple. Jesus asked His mother, “Didn’t you know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” Mary and Joseph did not understand. But Jesus is God’s Son, and it was necessary that He honor His true Father. In all this, Jesus did not sin.
The Bible does not give many details about Jesus’ childhood, but we know that as Jesus got older, He grew “in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with people” (Luke 2:52). Jesus carried out God’s plan to reconcile the world to Himself. (2 Cor. 5:19)
The BIBLE Story
Jesus as a Child
Matthew 2; Luke 2
After Jesus was born, wise men followed a star to Bethlehem to find the new king of the Jews. The wise men worshiped Jesus as King. When they left, an angel told Joseph in a dream to leave Bethlehem because King Herod wanted to kill Jesus. So Mary, Joseph, and Jesus went to Egypt until Herod died. Then they went back to Israel and lived in Nazareth. Jesus grew up in Nazareth.
Every year, Jesus’ parents traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover feast. Passover was the biggest holiday for the Jewish people. Many people traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate and remember when God saved His people from slavery in Egypt.
When Jesus was 12 years old, Jesus and His family went to Jerusalem together. When it was time to go home, Mary and Joseph began traveling to Nazareth with a large group of people. They didn’t notice that Jesus was not with them; they thought He was among the group of travelers. But Jesus was not with the group. He had stayed behind in Jerusalem.
Mary and Joseph had been walking for a whole day when they started to look for Jesus. They looked among their relatives and friends, but they could not find Him. So Mary and Joseph went back to Jerusalem. They searched everywhere for Jesus. The city was so big, and Jesus was just a boy.
Finally, they found Him at the temple. Jesus was listening to the teachers and asking them questions. Everyone who heard Jesus could hardly believe how much Jesus understood. When Jesus’ parents saw Him, they were surprised. Mary said, “Son, why have You done this? Your father and I were worried. We’ve been looking everywhere for You.”
“Why were you looking for Me?” Jesus asked. “Didn’t you know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” But Mary and Joseph did not understand what Jesus was talking about. Then Jesus went back to Nazareth with Mary and Joseph. Jesus was always obedient to them, and Mary remembered all of these things.
As Jesus grew up, He became even wiser. God was pleased with Him, and so was everyone who knew Him.
Christ Connection: God sent Jesus to earth with a purpose. Even as a child, Jesus wanted to honor God. God blessed Jesus as He got ready to follow His Father’s plan: to die on the cross and rescue people from sin.
Find the star
Hide a star-shaped paper cutout somewhere in the room. Invite the kids to find the star and bring it to you. For a competitive twist, hide multiple stars and see who can find the most in a given time limit.
SAY • The wise men who visited Jesus followed a bright star. When they found Jesus in Bethlehem, they presented Him with gold, frankincense, and myrrh—three valuable treasures. Jesus was no ordinary child, and His extraordinary nature would become more and more clear as He grew up. We’ll learn more about it today.
Invite the kids to come up with appropriate, silly questions to ask a child volunteer. The volunteer must attempt to answer the question without laughing or smiling. She may make up the answers, and the answers do not have to be accurate. Whoever makes her laugh gets to answer questions in the next round. Play as time allows.
Say • Those questions were pretty silly. Sometimes though, we face real questions that are difficult to answer because they require more wisdom than we might have. Today we will learn about a time Jesus proved He understood difficult questions and had lots of wise answers, even while He was just a boy.
Leader • Remember, Jesus had an earthly mother—Mary—and Joseph raised Jesus as his own son. But Jesus is really God’s Son. That brings us to our big picture question and answer. Is Jesus God or a human? As the Son of God, Jesus is both fully God and fully human. Jesus understands our pain, sadness, and brokenness that come from sin, but He never sinned. He carried God’s punishment for sin. Only Jesus could do both those things; only Jesus is fully God and human.
Open your Bible to Matthew 2; Luke 2. Use the Bible storytelling tips on the Bible story page to help you tell the story, or show the Bible story video “Jesus as a Child.”
Leader • In any other circumstances, a mom and dad would probably be very worried if strangers showed up at their door with presents for their child. But Jesus was not an ordinary child. The wise men understood who He was and offered great treasures to worship Him. And we see more clearly who Jesus is from the next part of the story.
Some of you may have had scary situations where you got separated from your parents in a crowded place. It can feel terrifying—especially for a parent. Imagine how Mary and Joseph might have felt. God had given them the important job of raising the Messiah, and they left Jerusalem without Him!
But remember, Jesus was no ordinary child. While you or I might have been afraid or gotten ourselves into trouble without parents around, Jesus was in the temple discussing God with the teachers of the law! The Bible tells us that everyone there was amazed by Jesus’ ability to understand the Scriptures.
Even as a child, Jesus wanted to do His Father’s plan. He understood all along that He would glorify God by obeying God’s plans.
Leader • God sent Jesus to earth with a purpose. Even as a child, Jesus wanted to honor God. God blessed Jesus as He got ready to follow His Father’s plan: to die on the cross and rescue people from sin. When we trust in Jesus, God forgives our sin and makes us part of His family. When we trust God, He will use us in amazing ways to spread the good news. That is His plan for believers, and we can all be a part of it.
Show the key passage poster. Lead the boys and girls to read together John 1:1-2.
Leader • Our key passage reminds us that Jesus—the Word—has always existed. In the beginning, He was there with God the Father. He is God the Son and will continue to exist for eternity.
Key passage activity
Invite volunteers to say the key passage from memory. Praise each kid’s efforts and encourage all the kids to continue working to memorize the key passage. Then instruct the kids to sit in a circle. Each kid will place her left hand under the right hand of the kid on her left. Kids will then take turns saying each word of the key passage in order.
As each kid says a word on his turn, he will move his right hand to clap the right hand of the kid on his left. Then that kid will say the next word, and so on around the circle. The kid to the left of the kid who says the last word of the key passage will try to move her hand before he can clap it. If he claps his own hand, she wins. If he claps her hand before she can move it, he wins. Play as time allows or until all kids have the verses memorized.
Apply the Story
Distribute a Bible to each kid. Help kids find Luke 2. Ask a volunteer to tell which division Luke is in (New Testament, Gospels). Ask another volunteer to tell which other books are in that division, and what they tell. (Matthew, Mark, John; the story of Jesus’ life and ministry on earth)
Ask the following questions. Lead the group to discuss:
Why did Mary and Joseph travel to Jerusalem each year? (for the Passover, Luke 2:41)
How long did it take Mary and Joseph to find Jesus? (three days, Luke 2:46)
What about Jesus astounded people? (His understanding and His answers, Luke 2:46-47)
Why do you think Jesus’ understanding and wisdom were so surprising? Help kids understand that Jesus would have seemed like an ordinary 12-year-old just by looking at Him. Remind kids that Jesus is fully God and fully human. Jesus was able to understand and explain God’s Word as One who had studied it for many years, despite His young age.
Why do you think Jesus said it was necessary for Him to be in His Father’s house? Guide kids to understand that Jesus’ Father is God. Remind them that Jesus is God the Son, and He knew God’s plans for His life: to make the way for sinners to have eternal life. Jesus understood that He would need to rely on God’s power to obey Him, and Jesus wanted to obey God always.
How can we live out God’s plans for us? Discuss the idea that God’s plan for all believers is for us to glorify Him by loving others, obeying Him out of love, and sharing the gospel throughout the earth. Remind kids that we can live on mission no matter where we are.
Say • Even as a child, Jesus wanted to do His Father’s plan. He perfectly obeyed His earthly parents and all of God’s commands, eventually dying for our sin.
Distribute a sheet of paper to each child. Ask the kids to write about or draw a picture to answer the following questions:
What does this story teach me about God or about the gospel?
What does this story teach me about myself?
Whom can I tell about this story?