Parables are a favorite to teach in children’s ministry because they are in the form of a story and are the very words of Jesus himself. With so much teaching on parables in children’s ministry do we ever back up a step and teach our children about why Jesus taught his disciples using parables? This lesson could be used as an introduction to a series on the parables. The children will learn what a parable is and why Jesus taught using parables. This lesson can easily transition into a gospel presentation during the “took” part.
Bible Passage: Matthew 13:10-17
Bible Story Title: Why Did Jesus Teach in Parables?
Target Age Group: 1st – 5th graders
Target Time Frame:30 minutes
Original Teaching Context: Children’s Church or Sunday School
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Learning Objective: The children will learn about what a parable is and why Jesus taught so often using parables.
Materials Needed: If you choose to include the Salvation Object Lesson by Linnea Sandvall also found on this website. One hard-boiled egg, One black marker, One straight pin
- “Who loves to listen to stories? Why do you like to listen to stories?” Take some feedback from the children.
- “Did you know that Jesus told lots of stories when He was on earth as a way to teach us? Jesus’ stories are called parables. A parable is a simple story that tells a lesson.”
- “Many of you have already learned about some of the parables Jesus taught when He was here on earth. Can you name any or tell about them?” Brainstorm with the children some of the parables of Jesus.
- “Why do you think Jesus taught us using parables? Let’s look at the reason Jesus himself gave when he was talking to his disciples.”
- “Open your Bibles to Matthew 13:10-17.” Read these verses aloud or divide up the verses among some proficient readers in your class to have them read the passage aloud.
- “In these verses Jesus explains why he taught using parables.”
- Reread verse 11. “Jesus spoke in simple stories as a way of teaching his disciples lessons he wanted them to learn. Lessons learned in the form of a story are easy to remember and later share with others. His disciples could listen to the story and understand the lesson Jesus wanted them to learn. Those who were not his disciples heard the stories, but did not understand the lessons.”
- “Why do you think some people did not understand the lessons in Jesus’ stories?” Take input from the children. “They did not understand because they had hardened their hearts to hearing the truth Jesus was teaching.”
- You may want to use the Salvation Object Lesson, which can be found on this website, to demonstrate to your children the difference between a hard heart and a soft heart. God’s truth cannot penetrate a hard egg shell covered in sin, but it can penetrate the soft skin of a hard-boiled egg white whose hard shell of sin has been removed. You can use a straight pin as “God’s Word” and show how the pin cannot push through or penetrate the hard shell, but once the hard shell is removed the straight pin easily enters through the soft egg white.
- Reread verse 12. “Those who believe in Jesus and understand the lesson of his parables will continue to learn even more because their hearts are soft toward learning truth. For those who do not believe in Jesus even the lessons they have learned they will soon forget because their hearts are hard.”
- Reread verse 13-16. “The eyes and ears Jesus is talking about are our spiritual eyes and ears. People who believe in Jesus have eyes to see his truth and ears to hear his truth because their hearts are soft. They are blessed by what they learn. The soft heart of a Christian wants to understand Jesus’ parables and learn more of the lessons Jesus has to teach. But, people with hard hearts have blind eyes and deaf ears to learning the meaning of God’s Word. They do not want to know the meaning of Jesus’ parables because their hearts are hard.”
- “Do you like to learn about Jesus through parables? When you come to church to learn about the Bible do you have a soft heart? Or do you have a hard heart that does not want to learn more about God’s Word?”
- “Jesus taught in parables for his followers to understand the truth he was teaching, but those with hard hearts could not understand. Are you a follower of Jesus or a person with a hard heart who does not want to know more about Jesus’ teaching?”
- “If you think you have a hard heart it may be because you are not a true Christian. Have you admitted that you are a sinner? Do you believe that Jesus died on the cross to take the punishment for your sins? Have you repented and turned away from your sins? Do you trust and believe that Jesus is the only way your sins can be washed away?”
- At the end of this lesson you may want to open it up for children to volunteer if they would like to talk to an adult teacher about the status of their heart and salvation.