Unit 21, Session 1: Jesus Met Nicodemus

Jesus’ ministry had begun. His first miracle was at a wedding, turning water into wine. He cleansed the temple in Jerusalem and performed signs, and “many trusted in His name” (John 2:23). Jesus likely spent a large part of His day teaching. When the day was done, He spent time alone or with His disciples. One night, however, a man named Nicodemus approached Jesus.

Nicodemus was a Pharisee and a ruler of the Jews; that is, he was a religious leader who taught God’s law, and he was a member of the Sanhedrin—a Jewish governing body. Nicodemus was part of an exclusive group of apparently moral men. He held to the belief that if a person was a law-abiding Jew, he would be accepted by God. Jesus gave Nicodemus a lesson that would turn his belief system on its head.

Jesus was a carpenter (Mark 6:3), so the religious teachers likely assumed He didn’t know theology. But they had seen Jesus’ miraculous signs in Jerusalem. Nicodemus had to conclude, “You are a teacher come from God” (John 3:2).

Nicodemus initiated the conversation, but Jesus chose the subject. His words perplexed Nicodemus: “Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Jesus explained that spiritual birth is not unlike physical birth in that a person cannot do it himself. It is something that happens to him.

Jesus reminded Nicodemus of an Old Testament account, the disobedient Israelites and the bronze snake. The Israelites could not help themselves, but when they trusted in God and looked to the bronze snake lifted up on the pole, they were healed. (Num. 21:4-9)

Nicodemus needed new life—eternal life—but he could not do anything to earn it. Eternal life is a gift that comes only from God. God showed His love in this way: He sent His One and Only Son to save the world. Everyone who believes in Him will not perish but will have eternal life.

Emphasize with your kids that every person is born a sinner—spiritually dead and alienated from God. It is by God’s Spirit—not our own effort—that we are born again. We look to Christ and His finished work on the cross for our salvation.

FAMILY STARTING POINTS

2’s
○ Jesus is the Messiah.
○ Nicodemus went to see Jesus at night.
○ Jesus gives people life forever with God.
○ God sent Jesus to earth because He loves us.

3-5’s
○ Who did Jesus say He is? Jesus said He is God’s Son.
○ Jesus told Nicodemus about God’s plan.

6-8’s
○ Who did Jesus say He is? Jesus said He is the Messiah.
○ Jesus told Nicodemus he must be born again.

UNIT KEY PASSAGE
John 14:6

NEXT WEEK
● “Jesus and John the Baptist” (John 3:22-36)

Unit 19, Session 6: Jesus Was Tempted

After Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit led Him into the wilderness. Jesus fasted for 40 days, and He was hungry. There in the wilderness, the Devil, who is the agent of temptation and father of lies, appeared to Jesus. The Devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

If You are the Son of God? The Devil knew who Jesus is. He challenged Jesus to prove it. The Devil wanted to ruin God’s plan of redemption which was set in motion in Genesis 3. In the garden of Eden, Satan used a seemingly innocent question to arouse doubt in Eve: “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden’?” (Gen. 3:1). Adam and Eve ate the fruit God had forbidden them to eat, and sin entered the world.

Jesus came to reverse the curse, to succeed where Adam failed. The Devil’s aim was to use a similar trick as in Eden to get Jesus to sin, to disqualify Him from the role of sinless Savior.

The Devil targeted Jesus in His weakness. He tempted Jesus to turn stones into bread, to put Himself in danger, and to worship him as a way to fulfill Jesus’ mission without going to the cross. “Go away, Satan!” Jesus replied.

Jesus was tempted, but He trusted God and never sinned. Jesus is perfect and righteous. A perfect sacrifice was required to take away sin. Jesus was that perfect sacrifice. He died on the cross to free us from sin and to give us the power to say no to temptation.

The writer of Hebrews said that Jesus, our High Priest, can sympathize with our weaknesses because He was tested in every way we are, yet He never sinned. Jesus’ actions are an example for believers, but what happens when we do give in to temptation?

Emphasize to your kids that we can boldly approach God’s throne to receive grace to help us through temptation, and mercy and forgiveness when we sin (See Heb. 4:14-16.) We have hope because Christ died for sinners.

FAMILY STARTING POINTS

2’s
○ Jesus is God’s Son.
○ Jesus was tempted in the wilderness.
○ Jesus always obeyed God’s words.
○ God sent Jesus because He loves us.

3-5’s
○ What makes Jesus different? Jesus is God’s One and Only Son.
○ Jesus was tempted.

6-8’s
○ What makes Jesus different? Jesus is fully God and fully man.
○ Jesus was tempted and never sinned.

UNIT KEY PASSAGE
1 Timothy 1:15

NEXT WEEK
● “Jesus Met Nicodemus” (John 3:1-21)

Unit 20, Session 2: Jesus’ Crucifixion and Resurrection

God’s law for the people was plain. Read Deuteronomy 6:5. But God’s people, and all people, have broken the law. We have loved other things more than we love God. That is sin.

Jesus’ purpose for coming to earth was to save us from our sin. (Matt. 1:21) Why did Jesus have to die? Why couldn’t He just say, “You are forgiven”? God is just and requires due payment for sin. To simply forgive sin without requiring a payment would be unjust. According to God’s Word, the payment of sin is death. (Rom. 6:23) But not only is God just, He is also loving. That is why Jesus was willing to die in our place.

Jesus came to live and die to show God’s love to us (Rom. 5:7-8) so that whoever believes in Him might not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16) Jesus came to die so that we would be forgiven. (Eph. 1:7) Jesus came to die to bring us to God. (1 Pet. 3:18)

Jesus died on the cross to satisfy the wrath of God toward sin. Jesus’ resurrection proved that God was satisfied with Jesus’ sacrifice, and forgiveness and life are found in Him. (See 1 Cor. 15:17.) If Jesus had died but not been raised up, He would have been like military leaders who died without a throne. (Acts 5:33-37) But Jesus conquered death, just as He said He would. (John 2:19-21)

Jesus’ resurrection gives us hope for our resurrection. (Rom. 6:5) And Romans 8:11 says that the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead will raise our bodies to life.

Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection are not the end of the story, but the center of it.

The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus is the center of the gospel. We deserve to die because of our sin, but Jesus died in our place. He was the blood sacrifice made once and for all for the forgiveness of sin. God was pleased with Jesus’ sacrifice and raised Jesus from the dead to reign as King over all creation. We are forgiven only through Jesus. (Acts 4:12)

FAMILY STARTING POINTS

2’s
○ Jesus is alive.
○ Jesus is God’s Son.
○ Jesus died on the cross, but God made Jesus alive again.
○ God sent Jesus to earth because He loves us.

3-5’s
○ Who saves us from our sin? Jesus saves us from sin.
○ Jesus died on the cross and is alive.

6-8’s
○ Who saves us from our sin? Only Jesus saves us from our sin.
○ Jesus died on the cross to save people from sin, and He is alive.

UNIT KEY PASSAGE
Romans 10:9

NEXT WEEK
● “Jesus Was Tempted” (Matthew 4:1-22)

Unit 20, Session 1: Jesus’ Triumphal Entry

The Sunday before Easter is Palm Sunday—the day Jesus entered Jerusalem as the King of kings the week of Passover. Many of God’s people traveled to Jerusalem for Passover. Jesus and His disciples traveled to Jerusalem as well. Near Bethphage (BETH fayj) and Bethany near the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples ahead into a village to bring a donkey to Him.

Jesus made a spectacular entrance into the city. He rode the donkey, and people laid branches and their robes on the ground in front of Him. The people welcoming Jesus into Jerusalem believed He was the promised Messiah, but they expected Him to overthrow Roman oppression and set up an earthly throne. Jesus sent a different message.

The next day, Jesus entered the temple and turned over the tables of the money changers and those selling doves. Jesus referred to Isaiah 56:7, declaring that His kingship would not just be over the Jews but over all people. While Jesus was in the temple, He healed the blind and the lame. Jesus’ actions declared, “I am not just your King; I am also your God” (Isa. 35:4-6).

Finally, the priests and the scribes heard the children in the temple worshiping Jesus as their King. “Do You hear what these children are saying?” they asked. Jesus replied, quoting Psalm 8:2. Jesus gladly received their praise because He was worthy of their praise. Jesus is the Son of God who came to overthrow sin and set up an eternal throne.

During Jesus’ triumphal entry, the people welcomed Him as King. Jesus was the Messiah spoken about by the prophet Zechariah: “Look, your King is coming to you; He is righteous and victorious, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9). One day, Jesus will return to earth on a white horse as King over everything. (Revelation 19:11)

As you prepare for and celebrate Easter, help your kids connect the dots between God’s promises of a Messiah and Jesus’ coming. Help them understand why Jesus came: to save the world from sin!

FAMILY STARTING POINTS

2’s
○ Jesus is alive.
○ Jesus is God’s Son.
○ God sent Jesus to earth because He loves us.
○ People praised Jesus as their King.

3-5’s
○ Who saves us from our sin? Jesus saves us from sin.
○ People welcomed Jesus as their King.

6-8’s
○ Who saves us from our sin? Only Jesus saves us from our sin.
○ People welcomed Jesus to Jerusalem as their King.

UNIT KEY PASSAGE
Romans 10:9

NEXT WEEK
● “Jesus’ Crucifixion and Resurrection” (Matthew 26:36–28:10; John 18:1–20:18)

Unit 19, Session 5: Jesus Was Baptized

Zechariah’s son, John, grew up in the wilderness. John’s ministry began when God’s word came to him, and he began preaching near the Jordan River. John worked to get the people ready for the coming of Jesus, fulfilling the Old Testament prophecy, “A voice of one crying out: Prepare the way of the Lord in the wilderness” (Isa. 40:3).

John called the people to repent of their sins, and he baptized them in the Jordan River. John also instructed the people on right living. (See Luke 3:10-14.) Some of the people suspected that John might be the Messiah, but John insisted, “One is coming who is more powerful than I” (Luke 3:16).

Jesus came from Galilee to be baptized by John at the Jordan River. Wait a second. John was calling people to a baptism of repentance. We know Jesus never sinned (see Heb. 4:15; 2 Cor. 5:21), so why did Jesus come to be baptized? John was right when he said, “I need to be baptized by You, and yet You come to me?” (Matt. 3:14).

Commentators’ ideas vary about why Jesus was baptized. Perhaps He was affirming John’s work. Maybe He was identifying with sinners or showing them how they would be saved—through His death, burial, and resurrection. Jesus answered John, “Allow it for now, because this is the way for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matt. 3:15).

Jesus never sinned, but He obeyed God and was baptized like sinners are baptized. Baptism reminds us of Jesus’ death and resurrection. It reminds us that when we trust in Jesus, we turn from sin and start a new life—a life lived for Jesus.

Help your kids understand that baptism is not what saves us; baptism is a way we show that we have been saved. Baptism reminds us that when we trust in Jesus, we die to sin and come into a new way of life—a life lived for Jesus. (See Rom. 6:3-4.)

FAMILY STARTING POINTS

2’s
○ Jesus is God’s Son.
○ Jesus always obeyed God perfectly.
○ John baptized Jesus to do God’s plan.
○ Everything Jesus does makes God happy.

3-5’s
○ What makes Jesus different? Jesus is God’s One and Only Son.
○ John baptized Jesus.

6-8’s
○ What makes Jesus different? Jesus is fully God and fully man.
○ Jesus obeyed God by being baptized.

UNIT KEY PASSAGE
1 Timothy 1:15

NEXT WEEK
● “Jesus’ Triumphal Entry” (Matthew 21:1-17; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-44; John 12:12-19)

Unit 19, Session 4: Jesus at the Temple

The Book of Luke records just two narratives about Jesus’ childhood: His dedication (Luke 2:21-40) and His time at the temple when He was 12 years old (Luke 2:41-52). Both stories set the stage for Jesus’ ministry on earth as an adult.

Mary and Joseph were faithful Jews. They had dedicated the baby Jesus according to the law of Moses, and they traveled to Jerusalem each year to celebrate Passover. God had commanded the men to appear before Him three times a year to observe certain festivals. (See Deut. 16:16.) Once a year, those who followed God’s law would travel to Jerusalem—often in large groups—to celebrate Passover.

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, Joseph might have taken Jesus around the city to teach Him the significance of the temple and explain the purpose of the Passover feast.

Jesus’ parents started the journey back home after the feast. They assumed Jesus was among their traveling companions, but He wasn’t. Jesus had stayed behind at the temple. Mary and Joseph traveled for a day before they noticed Jesus was missing. They went back to Jerusalem and found Him at the temple.

When Mary asked why He had done this, Jesus answered Mary’s question with a question: “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.

Even as a child, Jesus wanted to do His Father’s plan. As Jesus grew up, He became strong and wise. God blessed Jesus as He got ready to follow His Father’s plan: to die on the cross and rescue people from sin.

FAMILY STARTING POINTS

2’s
○ Jesus is God’s Son.
○ Jesus went to the temple to worship God.
○ Jesus came to earth to do God’s plan.
○ Jesus honored God the Father and His earthly parents too.

3-5’s
○ What makes Jesus different? Jesus is God’s One and Only Son.
○ Jesus came to earth to do God’s plan.

6-8’s
○ What makes Jesus different? Jesus is fully God and fully man.
○ Jesus came to earth to do His Father’s plan.

UNIT KEY PASSAGE
1 Timothy 1:15

NEXT WEEK
● “Jesus Was Baptized” (Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:1-11; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:19-34)

Unit 19, Session 3: Jesus Was Born

Do you think it was just by chance that Caesar Augustus called for a census? Did it just so happen that Mary and Joseph were traveling to Bethlehem—the very place the Messiah was prophesied to be born? (Micah 5:2) God is in control of all things, which He showed by using a pagan emperor to bring about His plan.

After Jesus was born, Mary laid Him in a manger. A king in a manger! It was so unlikely. But Jesus was no ordinary baby. He was God’s Son, sent in the most humble of positions, “not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life—a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28).

Imagine the shepherds’ surprise when an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared. The Bible says that they were terrified! But the angel brought them “good news of great joy.” (See Luke 2:10-11.) The people of Israel were well aware of their need for a Savior. They made sacrifices daily to atone for their sin. Finally, a Savior had come who would be the perfect sacrifice for sin, once and for all.

The birth of Jesus was good news! Jesus was not an ordinary baby. He is God’s Son, sent to earth from heaven. Jesus came into the world to save people from sin and to be their King forever.

Some time after Jesus’ birth, wise men came to worship Jesus. They brought Him gifts suitable for a king—gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Jesus is the King who will rule forever, just as God promised King David. (See 2 Sam. 7.)

Remind your kids that Jesus came because we needed Him. The purpose of Jesus’ birth was twofold: to bring glory to God and to make peace between God and those who trust in Jesus’ death and resurrection. Celebrating the birth of Jesus is about rejoicing over the greatest gift we could ever receive. God’s own Son came to earth to be our Savior and our King.

FAMILY STARTING POINTS

2’s
○ Jesus is God’s Son.
○ Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
○ Jesus is the Savior, the Lord.
○ God sent Jesus to earth because He loves us.

3-5’s
○ What makes Jesus different? Jesus is God’s One and Only Son.
○ Jesus was born as God promised.

6-8’s
○ What makes Jesus different? Jesus is fully God and fully man.
○ Jesus was born to be God’s promised Savior.

UNIT KEY PASSAGE
1 Timothy 1:15

NEXT WEEK
● “Jesus at the Temple” (Luke 2:40-52)

Unit 19, Session 2: Mary Praised God

God’s people had not heard a clear message from God for hundreds of years. Then one day, Gabriel—an angel of the Lord—told a man that his wife, Elizabeth, was going to have a baby. The baby’s name would be John. Then the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her that she would have a baby, and her baby would be God’s Son.

Mary and Elizabeth were relatives. Elizabeth was old and barren; she and her husband, Zechariah, had no children. Mary was a young girl—likely in her early teens. She was a virgin, engaged to be married to Joseph. The announcements of these pregnancies were miraculous for both women. Both babies had been foretold by the prophet Isaiah—John in Isaiah 40:3 and Jesus in Isaiah 7:14.

The angel Gabriel told Mary that Elizabeth was pregnant too, and Mary hurried to see her. The journey would not have been easy. Mary traveled nearly one hundred miles to see Elizabeth, and her arrival brought great joy to both Elizabeth and Elizabeth’s unborn baby. In the presence of the unborn Messiah, John leaped in Elizabeth’s womb. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she said, “Mary, you are blessed!”

The story of Mary’s visit with Elizabeth gives us a remarkable picture of women living by faith. Being a young, unwed pregnant woman could have caused Mary to worry. Instead, her response is marked by her trust in God. Mary’s song reflects her knowledge of God’s Word and her understanding of who God is.

Mary was willing to follow God’s plan, even though being Jesus’ mother would not be easy. Mary wanted to bring praise to God. Likewise, Jesus brought praise to His Father by willingly dying on the cross to save people from sin.

FAMILY STARTING POINTS

2’s
○ Jesus is God’s Son.
○ God promised to send Jesus to earth.
○ Mary praised God for sending Jesus.
○ Nothing is impossible with God.

3-5’s
○ What makes Jesus different? Jesus is God’s One and Only Son.
○ Jesus’ mother was Mary.

6-8’s
○ What makes Jesus different? Jesus is fully God and fully man.
○ God chose Mary to be Jesus’ mother.

UNIT KEY PASSAGE
1 Timothy 1:15

NEXT WEEK
● “Jesus Was Born” (Matthew 2:1-12; Luke 2:1-20)

Unit 19, Session 1: From Abraham to Jesus

The prophecies concerning Jesus’ birth are numerous, and many of them refer to Jesus’ lineage. Old Testament prophecies tell of the promised Messiah being born from the seed of a woman (Gen. 3:15); from the seed of Abraham (Gen. 22:18), Isaac (Gen. 21:12), and Jacob (Num. 24:17); from the tribe of Judah (Micah 5:2); from the line of Jesse (Isa. 11:1); and from the house of David (Jer. 23:5). The prophecies said He would be born of a virgin (Isa. 7:14) and would be the Son of God (1 Chr. 17:13-14; Ps. 2:7). Jesus fulfilled all of these prophecies.

In Bible times, Jews took great care to accurately record family genealogies. The family a person belonged to was directly linked to property rights. Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-38 both chronicle the genealogy of Jesus. The account in Matthew presents Jesus as the king of the Jews—the legal heir to the throne of David. The account in Luke was written to Greek Christians and focuses on Jesus’ descent from Adam.

Jesus came to earth as a baby in Bethlehem. Jesus had earthly parents, Mary and Joseph, but His true Father is God. Through Jesus, God kept His promises to Abraham and David. Jesus saves people from their sin and adopts them into God’s family.

When Jesus was born, He took on humanity—meaning He was fully God and fully man. As fully God, in Him “the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily” (Col. 2:9). As fully man, Jesus has a human body, human mind, and human emotions. (See Luke 2:7,52; Matt. 26:38.) He is our sinless representative (2 Cor. 5:21), sympathetic high priest (Heb. 4:15), and substitute sacrifice (1 John 4:10).

Use this Bible story to review Jesus’ ancestors and their stories in the Old Testament. Help your kids recognize that God had been working out His plan to send Jesus over hundreds of years—through Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jesse, David, Solomon, and Josiah. God sent Jesus to earth to save people from their sins.

FAMILY STARTING POINTS

 2’s
○ Jesus is God’s Son.
○ God promised to send Jesus to earth.
○ God’s people trusted God to keep His promise.
○ Jesus came to earth because He loves us.

3-5’s
○ What makes Jesus different? Jesus is God’s One and Only Son.
○ Jesus had a family.

6-8’s
○ What makes Jesus different? Jesus is fully God and fully man.
○ Jesus’ earthly family included Abraham, David, and others.

UNIT KEY PASSAGE
1 Timothy 1:15

NEXT WEEK
● “Mary Praised God” (Luke 1:26-56)

Unit 18, Session 6: Malachi the Prophet

This week was our final week in the Old Testament as we looked at the Book of Malachi. After many years living as prisoners in Babylon, God’s people had returned to Judah. They had worked hard and overcome opposition to rebuild the temple and the walls around Jerusalem. Surely God would restore them … finally! But nothing happened. As they waited, they faced drought and economic uncertainty. God’s people probably didn’t feel like God had blessed them at all.

“It is useless to serve God,” they said. “What have we gained by keeping His requirements?” (Mal. 3:14).

Did God still care? It wasn’t long until they fell back into the same patterns of sin that led to their exile in the first place: idolatry, covetousness, hypocrisy, arrogance, and abuse of the poor.

But God did still love His people. He had been working out His divine plan of redemption, and He never gave up on them. God sent a message to His people through the prophet Malachi.

Malachi was the last of the Old Testament prophets. He spoke to God’s people approximately 100 years after the end of the Babylonian captivity. Malachi’s message from God was a wake-up call.

God communicated through Malachi that the people’s lack of blessing didn’t mean that God didn’t care. God exposed His people’s sin and made clear that their actions merited a curse. God’s people needed to repent and turn back to God. “But for you who fear My name,” God said, “the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings” (Mal. 4:2).

Malachi was a messenger—a prophet—who told God’s people to repent. Malachi also told about another messenger God would send. This messenger, John the Baptist, would call people to repent and get them ready for a final Messenger, Jesus Christ. Jesus would bring good news of salvation.

Help your kids understand that 400 years of silence followed Malachi’s prophecy; God did not communicate to His people. This period brings us to the New Testament, when the silence would be broken by the last prophet before Jesus, John the Baptist. His words about Jesus in John 1:29 offered hope to all who heard: “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

FAMILY STARTING POINTS

2’s
○ God keeps His promises.
○ Malachi told people God’s words.
○ God promised to send a messenger before the Messiah.
○ Jesus is God’s Son, the Messiah.

3-5’s
○ Does God keep His promises? Yes, God is always faithful.
○ God told His people to repent.

6-8’s
○ Does God keep His promises? Yes, God is always faithful even when we are not.
○ God told His people to repent and get ready for Jesus.

UNIT KEY PASSAGE
Lamentations 3:22-23

NEXT WEEK
● “From Abraham to Jesus” (Matthew 1:1-17)