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20. The Bible's Big Story

25 lesson plans for children, young people and their teacher.

Lesson 20 Jesus’ life and teaching Bible reference – verses from Matthew and Luke. Jesus was a refugee as a child. He was displaced with His mother Mary and Joseph into Egypt. The family ran from king Herod’s threats to His life. When Herod died, they returned to make a new home in Nazareth, Matthew 2 verses 13-23. “Nazerat” is today among the southern hills in the Lebanon range, Northern Israel. Jesus had a difficult start to His human life but God was in complete control. Jesus was Who God wanted Him to be. And He was where God wanted Him to be.

Have two students read the verses that summarise Jesus’ childhood:

  • “The child (Jesus) grew and became strong; He was full of wisdom, and God’s blessings were upon Him”, Luke 2 verse 40.

  • “Jesus grew both in body and in wisdom, gaining favour with God and people”, Luke 2 verse 52. We are going to look at six snapshots (see note 20 below) of the life of Jesus. They will give us a general idea of what went on.

Divide the class into three or six groups. With three groups, every student acts twice. With six groups every student acts once. Ask one group to move to the front of the class. Explain that every time you change snapshot a different group will come “to the pretend stage” at the front. They will act for everyone to see, just what you are saying from the Bible. Every numbered sentence below can be acted out. Every sentence the actors must decide for themselves whether to work on their own, or in twos, or in bigger groups. Different acts will need different numbers of people. Snapshot 1: Jesus’ baptism (the group at the front act as you speak).

(From Luke 3 verses 1-23; Matthew 3 verses 1-17). 1. John the Baptist was a preacher who lived by eating what he found growing in

the desert area of the river Jordan. 2. Many people came and listened to him preaching. 3. Some were very sorry to have broken God’s rules for life.They showed it by being

baptised by John. 4. John reminded them Isaiah had prophesied this would happen. 5. One day Jesus came. He asked John to baptise Him. Jesus had not disobeyed

God – His life showed people what God expected of them. 6. After John baptised Jesus a voice came from heaven saying, “This is My own

dear Son, with Whom I am pleased”. 7. Jesus was praying quietly. 8. The Holy Spirit in the form of a dove (bird) came from heaven to Jesus.

Everybody who saw this and heard about it wondered Who Jesus of Nazareth

really was. Note: 20 A snapshot is like a photo. It is “a short explanation or description that tells you what a particular place or situation is like”, Macmillan School Dictionary, 2004.


Snapshot 2: Jesus’ temptations (Change the group of actors at the front).

(From Luke 4 verses 1-13; Matthew 4 verses 1-11). 1. Jesus was led by the Spirit away from other people, into the desert. 2. For 40 days and nights He did not eat food, so He was hungry. 3. The devil came to Jesus and tempted Him with three different ideas. 4. “If you are God’s Son, command these stones to turn into bread, starting with this

one!”, the devil said. 5. Jesus replied: “God wants us to live on His word, the scriptures. It is more important

than bread to eat”. 6. The devil took Jesus to a mountaintop. He showed Him all the great kingdoms in the

world. 7. The devil offered this greatness and glory to Jesus. All Jesus had to do for it was to

kneel in front of the devil. 8. Jesus said, “No, I will not!” He knew only God should be worshipped. 9. The devil moved Jesus to stand on the highest point of Jerusalem’s Temple. He

said,“ Jump. Scripture says angels will catch You before You hit the ground. All these

people will see and believe that You are the long expected Messiah”. 10. Jesus said, “No! Scripture warns us not to test God”. The devil left. 11. Angels came and helped Jesus recover from this battle with evil. Through His whole

life Jesus beat the devil, and evil spirits, simply by trusting and obeying God’s word in

the Old Testament Scriptures.

Snapshot 3: Jesus starts His ministry (Change to a new group of actors).

(from Luke 4 verses 16-29). 1. Jesus went into the synagogues (note 20 below) to worship and to teach. 2. The people who heard Him praised Him. Crowds joined them as they brought

their friends. 3. In Nazareth’s synagogue the leaders gave Him the scroll of Isaiah to read to the

people. 4. He stood up to read. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has chosen

Me to bring good news to all types of people”. 5. Jesus sat down. People looked at Him waiting for what He had to say. 6. Jesus said, “What Isaiah looked forward to, and said would happen, is coming

true. It is true today in Me”. 7. Some of the listeners agreed with Him. Others did not. 8. Jesus continued, “All through history only a few people have understood what

God is doing – and not always the people you expect. I am not surprised if I am

misunderstood here at My home”. 9. Some people became very, very angry with Jesus. They dragged Him out of the

town. From the top of the hill they tried to throw Him to his death. 10. God protected His Son. He was able to walk away to safety through the noisy

crowd. From this time onwards people took sides ‘for’ or ‘against’ Jesus.

Some believed He was the Son of God. Others could not accept it. 20 “A building that is used by Jewish peoplefor religious services”, MacMillan School Dictionary, 2004.


Snapshot 4: The Kingdom of God has come (Change the actors). (from Matthew4 verse 17. Note that Matthew usually writes of the Kingdom of Heaven, while Luke writes of the Kingdom of God. It is the same Kingdom).

Have all the students read the verse aloud together: “From that time Jesus began to preach His message: “Turn away from your sins, because the Kingdom of Heaven is near””. 1. Every place Jesus went He preached in the synagogues. He preached the Good

News about the Kingdom. He healed people who were sick. (Matthew4 verse 23). 2. Jesus walked miles from village to village. Always He preached the Good News about the Kingdom.

He usually healed people too. (Matthew 9 verse 35). 3. Jesus told parables, (see note 20 below) like the man who found a very

wonderful pearl(note 21) treasure in a field. He was so happy he sold everything

he had so he could buy that field. Jesus wants people to know how wonderful it

is to find and enter the Kingdom of God. (Matthew 13 verses 44-46). 4. When Simon Peter – one of His followers – recognised Who Jesus really was,

Jesus told him, “I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven. You know the

way to enter it”. Jesus was pleased that Peter had understood correctly.

(Matthew 16 verses 16-19). 5. Jesus warned religious people that instead of praising their own religious

traditions they should respect God’s Laws. He said, “The Kingdom of God will be

taken away from you and given to a people who live the right way”. (Matthew 15 verse3; Matthew 21 verse 43). 6. Jesus promised that before the world ended, this Good News about the

Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, giving everybody a

chance to enter the Kingdom. (Matthew 24 verse14). Have all the students read again Matthew 4 verse 17, to finish this snapshot:

“From that time Jesus began to preach His message: “Turn away from your sins, because the Kingdom of Heaven is near””.

Snapshot 5: Jesus’ Kingdom was His rule in peoples’ lives – not places (Change the actors at the front. Give everyone an opportunity to act.)

(From Luke 5 verses 1-11; Luke 5 verses 27-32). 1. Two fishing boats were by the lake where Jesus was teaching. The fishermen

were checking and washing their nets nearby. 2. Jesus asked Peter to put his boat in the water but to keep it next to the side.

Now Jesus could teach the crowds from His seat in the boat. 3. At the end Jesus wanted the men to sail out into the water and once more throw

their net to catch fish. Peter and the others argued it was a waste of time.

They already had a bad day with no fish. Notes: 20 “a simple story with a moral or religious purpose”, MacMillan School Dictionary, 2004. 21 “A small round jewel that is white and shiny”, MacMillan School Dictionary, 2004.


4. But the men did what Jesus said – and they caught so many fish they had to call

their friends to help them bring the fish to land. 5. Peter began to think about Who Jesus really was. Jesus called him, “Come,

follow Me and see”. Peter did. So did some other fishermen. 6. One day Jesus’ group walked past Levi sitting at his table collecting taxes.

Jesus asked Levi to leave it behind and follow Him. He did. 7. Levi introduced many of his friends to Jesus at a dinner party in his own home.

Religious people pointed their fingers at Jesus and said He was wrong to mix

with such ‘bad’ people. 8. Jesus replied that He had come to this earth for the special purpose of calling all

types of people to follow after Him into His Kingdom. 9. Jesus taught His disciples that the Kingdom was the most important part of their

lives. It was more important than food to eat, or clothes to wear, or even working to

make the future secure. He said if they put His Father’s Kingdom first – before all

other things – then His Father will provide everything else that is needed to live,

(Matthew 6 verse 33; Luke 12 verse 31). 10. Later Jesus sent His disciples out to preach the message they had learned from

Him. The disciples heard the words of Jesus. They also saw the way He lived His life.

They preached everywhere they went, “The Kingdom of God has come near you”,

(Luke 10 verse 9,11). Jesus was not interested in people’s race, colour, tribe or nationality.

He was looking for people of all types who would be His disciples anywhere. Snapshot 6: Jesus was not the kind of Messiah people were expecting (The last change of actors. Make sure all who want to act have time).

(From John 6 verse 15; Matthew 14 verses 22-32). 1. Many people who came to hear Jesus wanted Him to be their leader. They

wanted to overthrow the Roman occupation of Israel. Jesus knew this and so

He often went away on His own. His ideas of King and Kingdom were different to theirs. 2. One day as He stopped teaching He sent the people home and sent the

disciples off in a boat across the lake. 3. Jesus went up on a hill to pray alone. It was night time. 4. The boat was halfway across the lake, sailing against the strong wind.

It was difficult for the disciples in the boat. 5. Jesus began to cross the lake. He came near the disciples’ boat.

He was walking on the water! 6. The disciples thought He was a ghost and were afraid.. 7. Peter shouted, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come out on the water towards

You”. Jesus did so. Peter started to walk out of the boat but then became more afraid. 8. Jesus reached out and saved him from sinking. “How little faith you have”, Jesus

said. “Did you think I would let you drown?” 9. They both got into the boat. The boat with everyone on board reached the other

shore in no time at all. 10. The disciples all began to worship Jesus saying, “Truly You are the Son of God”.

They did not know anyone else who could walk on water!


Jesus did not want to force His Kingdom on to anybody. It was a Kingdom of people whose hearts were responding to Jesus. He could do amazing miracles. He could also lead an army if He wanted to. (He did not want to). But He had come to earth for a different reason.

He wanted to show people that His Kingdom was not what people thought it would be.

(All actors sit down).

Have students read the text once more:

“From that time Jesus began to preach His message:

“Turn away from your sins, because the Kingdom of Heaven is near””, Matthew 4 verse 17.

Remember to teach the ACTIONS and VIDEO overview

found and demonstrated on the homepage

and introductory lesson.




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