3rd-4th 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.
Explain that several world records are held by kids who have accomplished amazing feats. Form two teams. Describe a world record and ask a question. Team members should agree on a guess and write it on the board. Award one point to the team closest to the correct answer.
A 9-year-old boy set the world record for most claps in 1 minute. How many times did he clap? (1,080)
A team of 12 jumpers and 2 rope holders set the world record for most jumps over a rope in 1 minute. How many times did they jump? (230)
A fifth grade girl set the record for longest distance to stretch homemade slime in 30 seconds. How many inches did it stretch? (88)
A 17-year-old boy set the record for the world’s largest drawing. How many square feet did it cover? (3,486)
A group of children set the record for largest gathering of people dressed as rabbits. How many children participated? (1,119)
Say • Those were some amazing feats! Did you know that when Jesus was 12 years old, teachers in the temple were amazed by Him?
Seek and find
Before the session, hide people figures around the room. Challenge kids to find the figures. If time allows, choose volunteers to hide the figures again while the rest of the group faces a wall and closes their eyes. Then play again.
Say • Finding those people in the room wasn’t easy. Imagine looking for one person in a city of thousands of people! That’s what Mary and Joseph had to do in today’s Bible story.
Big picture question
Leader • First, does anyone remember our big picture question and answer? [Allow kids to respond.] Is Jesus God or a human? As the Son of God, Jesus is both fully God and fully human. This can be kind of hard to wrap your mind around, but it’s important to realize that when God the Son came to earth, He did not give up being God. He took on the likeness of humanity [see Phil. 2:7] and experienced life like we do, as fully human, to perfectly obey the Father and to rescue sinners.
I’m excited to share today’s Bible story with you. It’s about a Jesus’ time as a child. The Bible doesn’t tell us a lot about Jesus before He was around 30 years old, but two particular events are recorded in the Scriptures. Let’s find out more.
Leader • In today’s Bible story, we’ll hear about Jesus as a small child and also as a 12-year-old. Let’s review what we’ve learned about Jesus so far. First, we learned about Jesus’ family. Jesus’ family line proved He is the Messiah. Before Jesus came into the world, John was born. God had plan for John’s life. John was born to prepare the way for Jesus. Then, at just the right time, Jesus was born. Why was Jesus born? Jesus was born to be God’s promised Savior.
When Jesus was about five weeks old, His earthly parents—Mary and Joseph—took Him to the temple to be dedicated. At the temple, Simeon and Anna worshiped Jesus as the Messiah. So what happened between the time Jesus was dedicated and the time He was a grown man? Listen to today’s Bible story: “Jesus as a Child.”
Open your Bible to 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 • At the beginning of the story, we heard about the wise men visiting Jesus. Jesus might have been one or two years old when they came. He and His parents were still in Bethlehem. But they later moved to Nazareth, and that’s where Jesus grew up. The next story the Bible records about Jesus is about 10 years later, when Jesus was 12 years old. Do you remember where they went? (Jerusalem) Why did they go? (to celebrate Passover)
When the feast was over, Mary and Joseph started traveling home. But Jesus stayed behind. How do you think Mary and Joseph felt when they realized Jesus was missing? They hurried back to Jerusalem and searched the city. When Mary and Joseph found Jesus, He was in the temple with the Jewish teachers. What did the teachers in the temple think about Jesus? Look at Luke 2:47. [Allow kids to read the verse and respond.] They were astonished at His understanding.
What did Jesus call the temple? Look at Luke 2:29. [Allow kids to read the verse and respond.] Jesus called the temple His Father’s house. Even as a child, Jesus wanted to do His Father’s plan. The Gospel of Luke says one more thing about Jesus as a child: As Jesus grew up, He became wiser and increased in favor with God and people. [See Luke 2:52.]
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.
Show the key passage poster. Lead the boys and girls to read together John 1:1-2.
Leader • Memorizing God’s Word helps us remember what is true about God and about ourselves. Our key passage tells us that God the Son is the Word. He has always existed, and everything was created through Him. He is God, and we are not.
Open your Bible and read aloud 2 Corinthians 4:6.
Leader • When God sent Jesus into the world, He sent light into darkness. When we know Jesus, we see God’s glory and greatness. Is Jesus God or a human? As the Son of God, Jesus is both fully God and fully human. He is worthy of praise. Let’s sing.
Apply the story
Distribute Bibles. Guide boys and girls to open their Bibles to Luke 2. Ask kids to recall what the Gospel—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—are about. (Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection)
Say • We don’t know a lot about Jesus’ time as a child. The Gospels tell us that wise men followed a star to Bethlehem and worshiped Jesus when He was a small boy. [Point to Bethlehem (I4) on the New Testament Israel Map.] He grew up in Nazareth with His earthly parents, Mary and Joseph. [Point to Nazareth (E5).] When Jesus was about 12 years old, He went with Mary and Joseph to celebrate Passover in Jerusalem. [Point to Jerusalem (H4).] In today’s Bible story, we see that even as a child, Jesus wanted to do His Father’s plan.
Choose a volunteer to read aloud Luke 2:51-52. Then ask the following questions. Lead the group to discuss:
Who does God want us to honor and why? Help kids connect from the story that like Jesus, we should seek to honor God. God commands us to honor our parents. We should also honor other believers. The Bible says we should outdo one another in showing honor.
(Option: Choose a volunteer to read Rom. 12:10.)
How can we grow in wisdom and obedience to God? Invite kids to share their ideas. Emphasize that we grow through the power of the Holy Spirit. Encourage kids to read the Bible consistently, pray, and spend time in fellowship with other believers.
(Option: Choose a volunteer to read Heb. 10:24-25.)
How can God use you in His kingdom even while you are young? Invite kids to share ideas of ways they can serve God when they are young. Emphasize that God can use anyone who is willing to obey Him. God’s plan for us is better than any plan we can imagine for ourselves. We can rely on the Holy Spirit to lead us as we follow Jesus.
(Option: Choose a volunteer to read Eph. 1:9-10.)
Say • I wonder if Mary and Joseph asked Jesus more questions as they traveled home together. Remember our big picture question: Is Jesus God or a human? As the Son of God, Jesus is both fully God and fully human. God sent Jesus to earth with a purpose. Even as a child, Jesus wanted to do His Father’s plan. 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 as Lord and Savior, God forgives our sin and gives us eternal life.
Journal and prayer
Distribute journal pages and pencils. Guide kids to think about and answer the questions listed on the page:
What does this story teach me about God or the gospel?
What does the story teach me about myself?
Are there any commands in this story to obey? How are they for God’s glory and my good?
Are there any promises in this story to remember? How do they help me trust and love God?
How does this story help me to live on mission better?