Unit 21, Session 5: Jesus and Zacchaeus

Zacchaeus lived in the town of Jericho. He was a chief tax collector. Zacchaeus’s job was to collect money from the Jews for the Roman government. Many people knew Zacchaeus, and many did not like him.

The Bible says that Zacchaeus was rich. Tax collectors often collected more money than necessary and kept the surplus for themselves. His greed and dishonesty led Zacchaeus to being looked down upon as a “sinner.” But Zacchaeus treasured his wealth more than his reputation.

Zacchaeus probably never imagined that his entire life would change in a single day. When Jesus came through Jericho, Zacchaeus wanted to see him. He couldn’t see over the crowds, so he climbed a sycamore tree and watched Jesus from a distance.

Imagine the crowd’s surprise when Jesus approached the tree and called out to Zacchaeus, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down because today I must stay at your house.”

Of all the people in Jericho, Jesus chose to visit Zacchaeus! The other people complained. What was Jesus thinking, going to stay with a sinner like Zacchaeus?

The story reveals that Zacchaeus’s encounter with Jesus changed him. He offered to give half of his possessions to the poor and pay back four times what he had cheated from others. Zacchaeus no longer treasured his wealth. He realized that Jesus offered something so much better. Jesus confirmed this evidence of a changed heart: “Today salvation has come to this house.”

Jesus came to seek and save the lost. He came after us—sinners who do not deserve Him—and He rescues us from sin. Jesus died on the cross for our sin, and He is glad when we repent and trust in Him.

People who encounter Jesus do not walk away unchanged. Pray that your kids encounter the real Jesus, the One who came into the world because we needed Him. Jesus came to seek and save the lost—people like Zacchaeus and people like us. “I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17). When we repent and trust in Jesus, He changes us.

FAMILY STARTING POINTS

2’s
○ Jesus is the Messiah.
○ People did not love Zacchaeus, but Jesus did.
○ Zacchaeus climbed a tree to see Jesus.
○ Jesus came to rescue us.

3-5’s
○ Who did Jesus say He is? Jesus said He is God’s Son.
○ Jesus loved Zacchaeus.

6-8’s
○ Who did Jesus say He is? Jesus said He is the Messiah.
○ Meeting Jesus changed Zacchaeus forever.

UNIT KEY PASSAGE
John 14:6

NEXT WEEK
● “Parable of the Sower” (Matthew 13:1-9,18-23)

Unit 21, Session 4: Jesus Rejected in Nazareth

Jesus was about thirty years old when He began His ministry. After John baptized Jesus in the Jordan River, Jesus was tempted in the desert. Jesus traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover. Then, He headed north to Galilee. He went through the region of Samaria, stopping at Jacob’s well to talk to a Samaritan woman.

Jesus began teaching in the synagogues. He went to the town of Nazareth. Nazareth was a small village in the hills between the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean Sea. This was where Jesus grew up.

On the Sabbath day, Jesus went into the synagogue. He read aloud the words of the prophet Isaiah. (See Isa. 61:1-2.) Jesus sat down. Everyone’s eyes were on Him as He explained, “Today as you listen, this Scripture has been fulfilled.” What was Jesus saying? Jesus was saying, It’s Me. The words Jesus read were coming true. Some of the people might have remembered Jesus from His youth. They asked, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”

Jesus knew their thoughts; Jesus had performed miracles in Capernaum, and the people wanted Jesus to do miracles in His hometown too. Jesus reminded them of two Old Testament accounts. Many widows lived in Israel when the prophet Elijah was there, but God sent Elijah to help a widow in another country. And Elisha likely encountered Israelites who had leprosy, but he healed Naaman the Syrian.

Jesus wanted the people to understand that His miracles were an act of grace—a gift. No one deserves God’s grace, so God may show grace to whomever He pleases—even Gentiles. The people were angry. They drove Jesus away, intending to kill Him, but Jesus escaped through the crowd.

Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, the prophet Isaiah wrote about God’s plan to send a Messiah. He would bring good news and redeem people who were broken and hurting. Jesus read Isaiah’s words and told everyone who was listening that He is the promised Messiah.

Help your kids see that Jesus came to give sight to the blind and to set the captives free. He came preaching good news to all the people groups. Finally, the Messiah had come! Jesus was God’s plan to save sinners.

FAMILY STARTING POINTS

2’s
○ Jesus is the Messiah.
○ Jesus read Isaiah’s message in Nazareth.
○ God sent Him to preach good news.
○ God sent Jesus because He loves us.

3-5’s
○ Who did Jesus say He is? Jesus said He is God’s Son.
○ Jesus said God’s Word is about Him.

6-8’s
○ Who did Jesus say He is? Jesus said He is the Messiah.
○ Jesus explained that the Scriptures tell about Him.

UNIT KEY PASSAGE
John 14:6

NEXT WEEK
● “Jesus and Zacchaeus” (Luke 19:1-10)

Unit 21, Session 3: Jesus Met a Samaritan Woman

At the time Jesus was on earth, the social food chain went like this: Jews don’t talk to Samaritans. The strife between the two groups stretched back hundreds of years, to the Babylonian exile.

When the Babylonians attacked Judah, they moved a large group of God’s people away from their homes. But some of the people—the poorest, sickest, least able to work—were left behind in the region that became known as Samaria. The exile lasted 70 years. During that time, those left in Samaria began to mingle with their neighbors to the north. They intermarried and practiced foreign customs. While the Samaritans still believed in God, they adapted their beliefs.

The Jews who returned home from Babylon to rebuild God’s temple in Jerusalem rejected this new way of life. They were dedicated to obeying and worshiping God, and they didn’t agree with the Samaritans’ practices. The Samaritans opposed the Jews’ efforts to reestablish their nation. In time, the Jews’ hate for the Samaritans grew—so much so, that a Jew traveling from Judea to Galilee would take a longer route to travel around Samaria rather than through it.

Jesus broke down barriers when He traveled to Galilee by way of Samaria. Even more surprising, Jesus stopped at a well around noon and asked a Samaritan woman for a drink. Jewish men did not speak to women in public.

But Jesus was kind to her, and He offered a gift—living water. The woman didn’t understand, but Jesus revealed His knowledge of her past. He even gave her a glimpse of the future. The Samaritan woman expected a Messiah to come and fix everything. Jesus said, “I am He.”

Jesus offered the woman something no one else could give her—living water. Jesus wasn’t talking about water that she could physically drink; Jesus was talking about the Holy Spirit who would satisfy her spiritual thirst. Jesus gives the Holy Spirit to those who come to Him by faith.

FAMILY STARTING POINTS

2’s
○ Jesus is the Messiah.
○ Jesus spoke to a Samaritan woman.
○ The woman told people to come and hear Jesus.
○ Many people believed Jesus is God’s Son.

3-5’s
○ Who did Jesus say He is? Jesus said He is God’s Son.
○ Jesus told the Samaritan woman He is God’s Son.

6-8’s
○ Who did Jesus say He is? Jesus said He is the Messiah.
○ Jesus told the Samaritan woman He is the Messiah.

UNIT KEY PASSAGE
John 14:6

NEXT WEEK
● “Jesus Rejected in Nazareth” (Luke 4:14-30)

Unit 21, Session 2: Jesus and John the Baptist

Jesus went with His disciples into the countryside of Judea. He oversaw them as they baptized people. At the same time, people came to John, and he was baptizing them. These baptisms were an outward sign of cleansing for people who had repented of their sins.

Some of John’s disciples came to John. They had noticed that the disciples of the man John had reluctantly baptized were baptizing others. Perhaps they felt the need to defend John’s ministry, but John explained God’s purpose for his life. John had been chosen by God long before he was born to be a forerunner—one who prepares the way. (See Mal. 3:1; Isa. 40:3.)

John the Baptist understood who he was and who Jesus is. Consider these comparisons as John explained that Jesus was greater than John.

First, who were they? John was clear: “I am not the Messiah” (John 3:28). John was not the bridegroom, but the groom’s friend. Jesus is the bridegroom. (John 3:29)

Where did they come from? John was from the earth, and he belonged to the earth. Jesus comes from above and is above all. (John 3:31)

Next, what did they do? John said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” John was a witness to the Light. (John 1:7-8) He was a voice in the wilderness, and Jesus is the Word. (John 1:14,23) John baptized with water, but Jesus baptized with the Spirit. (John 1:33)

Finally, why were they here? John went before Jesus and rejoiced with Him. (John 3:28-29) Jesus came to give eternal life. (John 3:36)

John the Baptist had told people to get ready for Jesus, the promised Messiah. Now that Jesus was on earth, John’s mission was complete. John the Baptist joyfully stepped aside as Jesus began His earthly ministry.

FAMILY STARTING POINTS

2’s
○ Jesus is the Messiah.
○ John was not the Messiah.
○ John said Jesus is more important than him.
○ Jesus is the Son of God.

3-5’s
○ Who did Jesus say He is? Jesus said He is God’s Son.
○ Jesus came from heaven to earth.

6-8’s
○ Who did Jesus say He is? Jesus said He is the Messiah.
○ Jesus came from heaven to earth.

UNIT KEY PASSAGE
John 14:6

NEXT WEEK
● “Jesus Met a Samaritan Woman” (John 4:1-42)

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)