This is also the first time that Jesus is introduced in scripture as an adult. In this first encounter with Him, we witness His submission and obedience to His Heavenly Father, inciting the Father to display and declare His Son's identity, as well as His approval of Him. As you teach this lesson, hold Jesus up as the standard for obedience, and encourage the children to be obedient, just like Jesus.
Bible Truth: Jesus teaches me to repent and obey.
Bible Story: John the baptist preached, "Repent and get ready for Jesus to come." Jesus obeyed His Father and asked John the Baptist to baptize Him.
Bible Study: Matthew 3:1-17, Luke 3:1-22, John 1:19-34
In addition to reading this story from a children's Bible, or using flannel graphs to tell the story, here are some hands-on activities for the children to experience this story.
show & taste
When describing John the Baptist's clothing and diet, I give each child a few drops of honey on a spoon to taste. (Be sure none of your students are allergic to honey, and do not give honey to infants under one year of age.) We pass on taste-testing locusts, but I do have a plastic toy grasshopper that I bring in to show. If you, or someone you know is ambitious enough, you could catch a live one in a jar for your class to see.
Baptism is another key part of this story. I explain baptism as people leaving their sin, and showing Jesus that they want to follow Him. I like to do a mini baptism that usually turns out really neat. I gave each child a plastic doll house figure from one of our play sets, and fill a small clear tote about half way with water. I call each child forward, they repeat after me, "I want to follow Jesus", and then submerse their figurine into the water. In my experience the mood usually turns a little bit somber, like the kids start to understand that this is a very important decision for someone to make. It also makes this lesson much more personal to them!
John the Baptist was a different kind of person, but he preached a very important message. He told people that they needed to repent and get ready for Jesus to come. Repent is an important Bible word that needs to be defined for children. I tell my students that to repent means to stop sinning, turn around, and follow Jesus. Sing "The Repent Song" with simple actions to teach and reinforce this concept.
A fun game to play to accompany this lesson is a modified version of "Red Light, Green Light". For this game you will need a black heart (either cut out or drawn on piece of paper), and a picture of Jesus. Have the children line up along a wall, or behind a line, a determined distance opposite from you. Instruct the children to begin running towards you when you hold up the picture of Jesus, and stop when you hold up the black heart, representing sin. To add another twist (no pun intended), the children could stop, and turn their backs to you when you hold up the black heart, and then turn around and run towards you when you say, "Jesus!" and hold up His picture. With younger children, I eliminate the competitive aspect of this game, and just celebrate when they make it to Jesus by singing the "The Repent Song." They will want to play this game over and over again!
baptism of Jesus coloring page
Here is one nice and simple coloring page of the baptism of Jesus. Perhaps your children could use watercolors to paint the picture, to reinforce the idea of water baptism.
john the baptist preaching activity page
This craft gives children a bit of a tactile experience with John the Baptist's clothing. Children also engage pre-literacy skills as they recognize and interpret symbols for STOP, GO and TURN AROUND, to define the Bible word, REPENT. You will need:
- this coloring sheet (print two copies)
- brown felt
- a Sharpie pen
- fabric scissors
- leather type lacing
In class, help the children glue the felt tunic and lacing onto their coloring sheet. Instruct them to color the "STOP" sign red, and the "GO" light green, and encourage them to color the rest of the coloring page.
repent: red light, green light activity page
I designed this craft to specifically go with the "The Repent Song" I mentioned earlier in this post. For this craft you will need:
- this activity page
- this sheet of arrow templates
- card stock (optional)
- hole punch (optional)
- red and green color-coding stickers
To prepare, print and cut out enough arrows for each child. (I printed mine on card stock that I had on hand to make them more sturdy. I also punched a hole with a hole punch, but if you are not using card stock, that will not be necessary.)
In class, help your preschoolers affix the red and green stickers in the appropriate places. Instruct them to color the heart black, and to color Jesus. Now turn and point the arrow as you sing the song!