Advent Sunday School: Shepherds Receive Good News

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This lesson is taken from Luke 2 where Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem was announced to shepherds by angels. The shepherds found Jesus as they were told and spread the Good News to others. This lesson was written for 3rd and 4th students in mind. This can be simplified for preschool age and also adapted for a Children’s Church lesson. At the end of the lesson are other resources that may help you as you plan for your class.
Scripture: Luke 2:1-20
Learning Objective(s)
Students will learn:

  • God requires the shedding of blood for the forgiveness of sin.
  • God kept His promise and sent the Savior of the World.
  • It is a believer’s responsibility to share the Good News with others.

Memory Verse: Luke 2:11 “Today your Savior was born in the town of David. He is Christ, the Lord.” (New Century Version)
I chose this version to teach the Memory verse because of the emphasis of “your Savior” .  When teaching this lesson the emphasis can be on the truth that Jesus came to this earth for every man, woman boy and girl.  “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16  Ask students what the town of David means.  Some students may know what that means.  If they don’t ask where was King David from?  (Bethlehem)  God promised David that one of his descendants would be the Savior who would reign forever.  2 Samuel 7:12-16 God kept His promise and Jesus the Savior of the world was born in Bethlehem.
With the verse written on the board say the verse a couple of times.  Then begin to allow students to choose a word to erase from the verse.  Say the verse and continue to remove a word each time.  When you feel the class is ready erase the entire verse and have boys recite it and then the girls.  Have them both say it together.

Bible Lesson Shepherds Receive Good News

(This lesson is prepared as a guide to help you to teach your class. It is not meant to be read to the students but to help you as a teacher. Each class is unique and God will give you exactly what you need to teach your individual students. Pray, study the passage of Scripture and seek what truths God wants to teach your class. I have included Scripture references with the truths that are being taught in this lesson for a teacher’s further study or for older students to look up as the lesson is taught.)
Items needed for lesson: Several stuffed lambs, angel figurine and baby doll to use as props for the story. Provide Bibles for any student who did not bring one. If you have  pictures or flannel graphs for this story they would be helpful for your visual learners as well.
(Take stuffed lambs from your bag and place on the floor in the center of your story circle. If you have enough lambs and feel they won’t be a distraction to your students allow them to choose one and hold as you tell the story. Make sure to set the limits by saying you may hold a lamb if the lamb sits still in your lap as we learn our Bible lesson. If the lamb will be a distraction you will have to put him back with the others in the field.)
This morning we are surrounding a flock sheep. You didn’t know you were going to be a shepherd in class did you? Shepherds had important jobs because they needed to take care of each sheep and make sure they were fed and safe from danger. People looked down on shepherds because they thought shepherds were dirty and smelly because they took care of sheep. (Ask the students what kind of jobs there are today that most people would not want to have. Examples: trash collector, sewer workers, etc. If we did not have those workers what would happen? God gives each person a job to do and we should be thankful for their work and not look down upon them for their job.)
Sheep were an important part of the worship of God, especially lambs. Lambs are so adorable. In the Bible lambs symbolize (or represent) a very important truth. The truth that God’s Word teaches us is that blood must be shed in order for sins to be forgiven. (Hebrews 9:22) In the Old Testament lambs were used as a substitute for the sins of men, women, boys and girls.
This is an unpleasant truth that most people don’t even want to accept. Since we believe the Bible is God’s True Word to us, we have to accept what He teaches whether it is pleasant or not.
Here is a brief history from God’s Word teaching us about God’s requirement for the shedding of blood to forgive sins:
When sin first entered the world in the Garden of Eden an innocent animal lost its life so Adam and Eve could be clothed. That was the very first time God required the shedding of blood as a symbol to cover sin. Genesis 3:21 (Use picture or flannel graphs of Adam and Eve clothed with animal skin.)
Many years later, on the night that God delivered His people from slavery in Egypt He required that every family take care of a lamb for fourteen days. On the fourteenth day they were to take the lamb’s life at twilight. They were to use the blood from that lamb to put on the doorposts of their homes. When the death angel went through the land that night he would pass over the homes that had blood on the doorposts and the family living inside would not lose their life. Exodus 12 (Use picture or flannel graph of man placing blood on a doorpost.)
When God’s people were living in the desert Moses was given instructions to build a Tabernacle so the people would have a place to worship God. The High Priest was to go into a special place in the Tabernacle called the Most Holy place. In the Most Holy place the High Priest would take the blood of animals and offer it to God as a covering for the sin of the people. (Leviticus 16) (Use picture of Tabernacle and point out where the Most Holy place is located.)
God allowed the blood of innocent lambs to be shed so the sins of people could be covered. This was done throughout the Old Testament. The people may not have understood it at the time but each time a lamb lost his life it was symbolic (a picture) of the Savior God promised to send who would shed His blood so every man, woman, boy and girl could have their sins removed and forgiven for all eternity. This Lamb would only have to die once so our sins could be completely removed. Hebrews 9:11-14
Since the time of Adam and Eve, God’s people had been waiting for the promised Savior. Each year many lambs lost their lives so the people could have their sins covered. This is where the job of a shepherd came in. Taking care of the lambs used as sacrifices was the job of shepherds. This was an important job whether people looked down on shepherds or not. Imagine how much the shepherds loved the little lambs and made sure they were safe from dangerous wolves and bears. Shepherds lived among the sheep so they could be cared for and safe.
Let’s turn in our Bibles to Luke 2. We are going to hear a special story about something that happened to shepherds as they took care of their sheep.
(Use pictures or flannel graphs of shepherds taking care of sheep.) One evening a group of shepherds were settling in for the night to sleep. The sheep had been taken care of and were safe from danger. The shepherds were ready to go to sleep so they could be rested for the next day’s work. Perhaps one shepherd would stay awake while the others could sleep to make sure no animal would sneak in and steal a lamb for his dinner.
As the shepherds lay on the ground looking up at the dark sky with beautiful stars shining in the night sky, an angel from God came and stood in front of them. (Take angel figurine out of bag or use picture/flannel graph.) The Bible tells us that the glory of God was shining all around this angel so he must have been very bright to look at. This sight was very frightening to the shepherds. They had never seen an angel before.
The angel spoke and told them not to be afraid. He had come with a message from God. He said, “I bring you Good News of great joy that will be for all people. Today your Savior was born in the town of David. He is Christ, the Lord.” He went on to tell them that God’s Son, Jesus had been born in the town of Bethlehem. They would be able to find Him in a little stable wrapped in swaddling cloths and was sleeping in a manger.
After the angel gave the startled shepherds this message, all of a sudden many angels appeared in the sky and they praised God saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.”
Imagine if these shepherds refused to work as shepherds because others would look down on them. These shepherds were obedient to do the job God gave them to do. They would have missed out on this amazing announcement from angels had they refused to be shepherds. When God tells you and me to does something we need to be obedient to Him and not allow what other people think keep us from obeying God’s call in our lives. We won’t want to miss out on the amazing plan He has for our lives.
When the angels left do you think the shepherds said, “Wow that was an amazing message! Let’s go to sleep and be well rested to see our Savior who was born?” (Have a volunteer read Luke 2:16) The shepherds immediately obeyed what they heard from the angels and went to see God’s Son who He had promised to send so long ago.
When the shepherds arrived in Bethlehem they found the Lord Jesus as a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and he was sleeping in a manger. (Pick up baby doll and hold in arms.) The shepherds told Mary and Joseph what had happened to them that night and how the angel told them they would find Jesus. They praised and worshiped God. As they left seeing the Lord Jesus as a baby they couldn’t keep the Good News to themselves. They had a message to tell everyone they met. I can hear them now….”The Savior has been born!” Come see! God has kept His promise Immanuel has been born! Now we can have our sins forgiven! Hallelujah!” They couldn’t keep this Good News to themselves.
The shepherds were told the Good News that a Savior was born that was for all people. That message that was given over 2,000 years ago is for us as well. It’s for ALL people. We need a Savior because we have sinned. Our sins can be forgiven. Jesus didn’t stay an infant. He grew up and became a sinless Savior who took our punishment on the cross. He is the Lamb of God. When He died on the cross He shed His blood so our sins could be forgiven. He was buried and rose again the third day. By believing in Jesus and asking Him to save you from your sins. You can be forgiven from your sins and become God’s child. You will receive the gift of eternal life and will be allowed to enter God’s home in heaven when you die. We have Good News this Christmas season. Jesus God’s greatest gift is available to all who will call upon His name!
Today if you have never received the Gift of eternal life you can. We are here to show you from the Bible how you can be saved. Please talk to us if you want to know more about how to receive this wonderful Gift.
If you are a believer you have an important job to do. You can’t keep this Good News to yourself. You need to share what God has done with others. You would be giving the Greatest Gift to others each time you share the Good News. Who can you share the Good News with this week?
Questions:

  • What does God require for the forgiveness of sins? (The shedding of blood)
  • Who came to the shepherds in the field? (Angels)
  • What was the angel’s message to the shepherds? (The Savior had been born in Bethlehem)
  • When did the shepherds look for Jesus? (Immediately)
  • How did the shepherds act after they found the Lord Jesus? (Praised God and shared the Good News)
  • What is the Good News that we can tell others? (Jesus died on the cross for our sins, was buried and raised to life three days later.)
  • Who can you share the good news with? (Take time with this question.  Some students will give generic responses like “everyone”.  Have them try to think of one person they know that is not saved.  Remind them that it is important to pray and ask God for His help as they go and share the Good News with those God has put in their path.)

Additional Resources:

Need More Help? Be sure to check out all our Christmas Lessons for Children or try this Jesus Birthday Coloring sheet.


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