John the Baptist
Read: Matthew 3:1-12 or “Heaven Breaks Through” (Part 1 about John the Baptist, not Jesus) from The Jesus Storybook Bible
Special verse: I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.– Matthew 3:11
Discuss: Do you remember how the prophet Isaiah told the story of Jesus hundreds of years before Jesus was born? Isaiah talked about John the Baptist, too. He was the “voice in the wilderness” and his job was to tell people to get ready! John baptized people who were sorry for their sins, and who wanted to follow God again. Some people thought he might be the Messiah, but John knew the real savior would make himself known soon. How can we prepare our hearts to celebrate Jesus this Christmas?
The World Did Not Know Him
Read: John 1:9-14
Special verses: The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. – John 1:9-10
Discuss: God loves us so much that He had to come rescue us. He made himself a baby and came to live on Earth. This is what His people had been waiting for all these generations. Finally, Jesus was here, but the world didn’t know it! Who would share the good news? How would you share the news? Not everyone who heard the good news believed it, but the people who do will be called “children of God.” What does it mean to be a child of God?
The Wise Men find Jesus
Read: Matthew 2:9-12
Special verse: And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. – Matthew 2:11
Discuss: The star was on the move again and the wise men followed. They followed the star out of the big city, through the small town of Bethlehem to a tiny house. Was this a mistake? Why would a king live here? Have you thought about how BIG and MIGHTY God is? But here He is on Earth as a tiny, poor, helpless baby. Herod is mistaken. This King didn’t come to be the boss. He came to be a servant. When the wise men saw Jesus they fell down and worshiped him, and gave him precious gifts. If you could give baby Jesus a gift, what would you give him?
The Wise Men and Herod
Read: Matthew 2:3-8
Special verse: “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’” – Matthew 2:6
Discuss: The wise men’s search for the baby king led them to Jerusalem. They went to King Herod, the guy in charge, to ask where to find the baby, but Herod did not know anything about Jesus. Remember how the angel announced the birth of Jesus to the lowly shepherds in the fields? But he didn’t tell the rich and powerful people in Jerusalem. We will find out that this was for Jesus’ own protection! Herod didn’t like the idea of a new king in town. He asked his advisers and they told him what God had said through the prophet Micah; Jesus would be born in Bethlehem. Do you think Herod really wants to worship the baby king as he says?
The Wise Men
Read: Matthew 2:1-2
Special verses: “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him. – Matthew 2:2
Discuss: These wise men must have studied every star in the sky for years. They knew each one. So when a new, shining star appeared in the darkness, they knew it meant something BIG had happened! They followed the star, traveling hundreds of miles for weeks on end, to find the baby king. Listen (and sing along if you’d like) to the song We Three Kings.
Jesus Presented at the Temple
Read: Luke 2:21-35
Special verses: “…for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”. – Luke 2:30-32
Discuss: As parents who followed the Law of Moses, Mary and Joseph took baby Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem to present him to the Lord and give an offering. Simeon had been waiting for Jesus to come to the temple. God had already told Simeon that he would get to see the Christ before he died. How do you think he knew Jesus was the Christ? What does it mean that the Holy Spirit was upon Simeon? Simeon said that Jesus would be a light of salvation, but not every person of Israel would be happy that he had finally come. Do you think that was scary for Mary and Joseph to hear?