This Bible lesson will help us understand what Jesus was like as a child. Like a lot of us, he wasn’t really handsome and didn’t really stand out. But the story from Luke 2, where Jesus went to the temple as a 12-year-old, will also help students realize that they too can dare to be different when it really counts.
Bible Lesson Materials:
Either on your laptop screen or printed out, some pictures of kids from Palestine or Jordan (to show what Jesus might have looked like)
Bible Lesson Scripture:
Luke 2: 41-51
The Boy Jesus at the Temple
Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him.
After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”
“Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”
But they did not understand what he was saying to them.
Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
(TEACHER’S WORDS IN ITALICS)
Read the scripture passage.
If we really want to understand Jesus, let’s try to take a look at him when he was your age and see what little hints the Bible tells us about him. What do you think Jesus looked like as a child? What color hair did he have? Was he tall or short?
Let them discuss this.
We really don’t know exactly what Jesus looked like. Artists have drawn pictures of him, but they’re guessing. The only thing we have is the prophecy found in Isaiah 53:2: “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” So, what might this tell us about what Jesus looked like?
Only that he looked pretty much like everybody else. He blended in.
Discuss some of these points:
– Jesus was Jewish, and most Jewish boys had brown hair and dark eyes
– Most Jewish people in the Jerusalem area had medium skin; show some pictures of modern kids in Palestine for comparison if you find some online;
– If he were extremely tall or extremely short he would have stood out, and the scriptures seem to imply that he did not.
It’s very common in our culture that we tend to admire people who are very beautiful. Have you noticed that? What ways do we have to celebrate people’s beauty?
Some examples for discussion might be
– beauty pageants for women
– muscle contests show off physiques
– movie stars and how they are often so stunning
But Jesus himself isn’t said to be among the most handsome, and he is God’s only Son. What does that tell us about the importance of beauty? What does this tell us about real goodness?
We shouldn’t put too much emphasis on it. We should try to look at people’s hearts because that’s where really beauty is found.
Now let’s look at how Jesus acted as a child. How do you think he acted? Do you think he ever told a lie?
No: Jesus never sinned. You might want to quote Hebrews 4, which says that now “we have a high priest who was tempted in every point like we are, yet without sin.”
And yet here is something that is often surprising to people about Jesus. When he grew to be a man, he went back to his hometown in Nazareth, where he’d spent a good portion of his childhood. The people heard about him performing miracles elsewhere and heard him trying to say in the synagogue that he was special.
Some of the people looked confused, saying, “Heh?? Isn’t this Joseph’s son? Isn’t this Jesus merely the son of that carpenter?”
What might this tell us about Jesus’ behavior that they were remembering? How was it sort of like his appearance?
He blended in. Concerning his claims to be the Messiah, nobody really saw it coming.
You see, to be good, that doesn’t mean that you always have to stand out in the crowd. The good news in that is that you can follow God and that doesn’t necessarily mean you will make a huge spectacle of yourself. People who are shy or who don’t like to be center of attention – they can follow God just as easily as people who are very outgoing.
However, the story in the bible about Jesus from Luke 2, it does show us one thing about Jesus as a child, and we should try to copy that:
Jesus was not afraid to be different when it really mattered. In the story, he told his parents later that he wasn’t lost when they found him in the synagogue, days after Passover. He was doing what he was supposed to be doing. And obviously, that was not what his friends were doing. What was Jesus doing?
Studying God’s word in the temple.
What were his friends probably doing?
Helping their parents; hanging out together; playing games; copying each other.
There are times in our lives when we don’t want to copy those around us. Those times include when God might want us to do something bigger, something more important. Let’s roll play to see this”¦
Ask for a volunteer. Have her switch places with you. You sit with the kids, and have her sit in your chair. Warn him or her: You are going to provide him with temptations. He should respond with words to stand up to the temptations.
Let’s see if we can get [student’s name] to copy us.
Have students come up one at a time and read these temptations from your notes as if they are play acting. Give the more complicated ones to those old enough to read, and the others to.
Why do your parents make you go to church on Sunday?? If you can get out of it, we can just be couch potatoes at my house and watch cartoons all morning. Wouldn’t that be more fun?
The child should stand up for the family’s values and give an answer.
I know! Tell them you’re sleeping at our house, and that our family goes to some other church. They’ll never know!
The child should given an answer reflective of truth-telling vs. lying, etc. Next child:
My dad makes really good blueberry waffles. He’ll make us some!
Child should respond – however! Last child:
You have a really stupid family. Glad my family doesn’t make me do things I don’t want to.
Child should respond. Let others help. This one is a bit more challenging because most kids can’t see when another is lying or stretching the truth, but responses like this are often stretched truths.
Jesus wasn’t fantastic looking. He didn’t stand out, either in his appearance or in his behavior. You can be like Jesus without being so different that you’re chronically standing out. But when it counts? Dare to be different. Jesus did.
What are some other ways that you can ecourage your students to be an individual? Feel free to share your ideas below! And be sure to Follow Me on Twitter, where I will share more great Bible lesson ideas, and occasionally give away a prize or two! 😉