Who was and is Jesus? That might seem like a simple and straight forward Gospel question, but it’s an important one to address frequently with kids. This message focuses on the story of Jesus in the temple as a 12-year-old boy. The story reminds us that Jesus was aware of His identity as the Son of God, but also obeyed His parents and was responsible to them as a human. Mary and Joseph thought Jesus was lost, but He was where He belonged. Sometimes we might “lose” or neglect Christ, but it’s important to remember that His presence is always with us.
Law/Gospel Theme: The amazing message of the Gospel is that God became man and lived among us. He knows what it’s like to be in our shoes, and because He lived without sin, He can take our guilt away! This story reminds us that Jesus was fully human and fully God. He understood, even in childhood, His connection to the Father; yet He also obeyed His parents and grew physically and spiritually.
Optional Materials: Several items such as knick-knacks or household items; a cross; a tray or plate to place items on.
Bible Passage: Luke 2:41-52
More Teaching Ideas:
- Watch the teaching demonstration of this children’s sermon and realted Bible crafts
- Compare our full Sunday School and Bible Lesson about boy Jesus visiting the temple
- See all our Christmas lesson ideas and Sunday School Curriculum
Message Note: As with most messages, the details of how you choose to communicate this are adaptable and should cater to timing as well as to your audience and student needs.
Don’t Miss Jesus (Luke 2:41-52) Children’ Sermon Lesson
Greet children and start things off with a challenge activity…
Hello, children of God!
How are you at observing things? I want to give you a little challenge right now. Let’s see how well you pay attention. I want you to take a look at this tray, and carefully think about all of the items on it (display tray full of different small items. One of these should be a cross. Allow about 20-30 seconds for observing). Okay, not I am going to take something off of this tray. No peeking! (Turn around or cover things up, and sneak the cross off the tray). Okay, now can you figure out what is missing? (Turn back around and allow students to guess.) You’re right…I am missing the most important part of this! The cross is gone!
You know, sometimes in our lives we miss Jesus. We might not do this on purpose, but we forget that His presence is always with us, or we neglect to focus on Him. There’s actually a story in the Bible about a time that someone important missed Jesus…His parents! It’s a story from when Jesus was a boy. We don’t know a lot about His childhood, but there’s one passage that describes a significant event that happened when He was twelve.
You see, Jesus and His family traveled to the temple for a special holiday. It was like going to church on a special occasion, only their church wasn’t right in town. They had to take a long journey to get there. After the celebration was finished and they had been on the way home, Mary and Joseph suddenly realized Jesus wasn’t with their travel group! They spent days looking for Him and were very worried. Finally, they made it back to the temple, and there was Jesus! He had been there the whole time, talking with the leaders of the church. Mary got a little upset that He had gone missing, but Jesus didn’t think He was lost. He just said, “why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know I must be in my father’s house?”
There are a couple of important things we can take away from this. For one thing, this is a good reminder that Jesus was fully God and fully human. He recognized His relationship with God the Father and knew that He belonged with Him. Jesus was and is God. Yet at the same time, He was a twelve-year-old boy, and His parents were worried when they couldn’t find Him. Jesus agreed to go with His parents and obey them, once they were reunited. So even though He is God, He was human and subject to normal human growth needs.
This can be hard for us to understand. If it is, we’re in good company, because Mary and Joseph had a difficult time fully grasping it, too! Even though they knew Jesus was God’s son, it was still tough to recognize what that meant, especially when they still had responsibilities to care for Him as parents. So for us, we appreciate that Jesus experienced humanity, in order to die in our place and forgive us for our sins. That’s what is so important and significant about understanding who Jesus is and was. And it’s also important to keep Him at the center of what we do and who we are. Mary and Joseph panicked when they couldn’t find their son, even if He was perfectly safe. We might panic if we fail to prioritize the Lord. We want to remember that He is always with us, whether or not we feel or pay attention to Him. Keep that in mind and thank God for sending Jesus!
Let’s pray and give that thanks right now, asking for the Lord to help us remember His power and presence.
(Have kids repeat each line)
Thank you for sending Jesus
Thank you for your many blessings
Please help us to keep Jesus in the center of our lives
And not lose sight of Him
Please help us listen to and obey you and our parents
Thank you for your sacrifice
Thank you for your love
We love you, God!
In Jesus name, Amen!
Bible Verses/story to Reference: Luke 2:41-52 ESV
Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. 43 And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44 but supposing him to be in the group they went a day’s journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, 45 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” 49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”50 And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. 51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.
52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.