Sunday School Lesson on Boy Jesus in the Temple – Very little is known of the childhood of Jesus. This story, our glimpse into the life of twelve-year-old Jesus, is significant for what it verifies about Christ. The passage is also a helpful reminder that we should grow in multiple ways, and that we should always respect and obey parents as well as God. It’s a great opportunity to focus on keeping God central in all things, and not forgetting His presence.
Lesson focus: This lesson reminds children that we should not become “lost” or distracted by things and miss out on the constant presence of Jesus. The story follows Mary and Joseph as they frantically search for the boy Jesus, who remained in the temple after Passover. Jesus was remarkably in touch with His role as God, but was also growing as a human. The activities and discussion here focus on who Jesus is, as well as the importance of living in His presence and obeying Him as we grow.
Passage: Luke 2:41-52
Target Audience: Kindergarten-6th grade
Materials Needed: Construction paper; glue; markers or crayons; tape; scissors; decorative supplies; yarn/string; paper straws; popsicle sticks; toilet paper or paper towel tubes; Bibles.
More Teaching Ideas:
- Watch the teaching demonstration of this children’s sermon and related 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
Games and Lesson Introduction
Lesson Opening: This lesson involves looking for something missing and potentially losing things. Use that idea to fuel potential opening games and activities.
- Hide and seek… since this story has to do with Mary and Joseph looking for Jesus, prepare students with a fun game of hide and seek, in or outside.
- Seek and find…present students with a picture containing several “hidden” elements to hunt for. See how many they can find.
- I spy…continuing the theme of looking for items, play a fun round of “I spy” using objects around the room and a variety of clues.
- What’s missing? Have one student leave the room for a minute. Change one thing about the room or someone in the room, and see if the student can detect “what’s missing.”
- The house of the Lord…this story involves the Temple. Talk about what is special about your church and the people who work in it.
Prepare students to hear the story. Describe how Mary and Joseph once thought they lost Jesus, and went looking for Him. But Jesus wasn’t really lost, and never will be! He is always near to us and willing to help when we call.
Boy Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:41-52) Sunday School Lesson
Bible Lesson: This passage is one that could potentially be acted out with script, puppets, or mimed action. You might have older students read or dramatize the parts, or you could read a few verses at a time and pause to discuss. You might also wish to simply read or paraphrase for younger students. Begin by explaining how we don’t know a lot about the childhood of Jesus, but there is one event we can read about in the Bible.
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. -Luke 2:41-42
Explain (or remind students) that Jesus was truly God, and still fully a human. This is a story that reminds us of that. Jesus had gone with Mary and Joseph to Jerusalem, where the temple was. Every year they’d go for a special celebration the church was not just right down the road. They actually had to travel quite a ways to get there, and they went with other families, too.
Ask: Have you ever been to a family reunion or place where there were a lot of people? What kinds of things do you celebrate each year?
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. -Luke 2:43-45
It is well worth noting that Joseph and Mary were not neglectful as parents. They didn’t lose Jesus or accidentally leave Him behind. There were a lot of people in the group, and it was easy to not at first recognize He wasn’t with them. As soon as they realized Jesus wasn’t close, they were worried. Jesus was still relatively young, and they knew they had to find Him.
Ask: Have you ever gotten lost, or lost something that was important to you? How did it feel? What did you do to find what you needed?
Go on to describe how Jesus had not really been missing at all. He was right where He should be, though Mary and Joseph didn’t understand that. As human parents, they looked for Him for days, until they found Him in the temple, right where they left Him!
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.” -Luke 2:46-48
Mary and Joseph didn’t fully understand what was happening. They knew Jesus was God, but still couldn’t completely grasp what was going on. They thought Jesus was missing. Did you know we do this sometimes, too? We think that the Lord is hiding from us, when His presence is always there. We just have to recognize and remember what we know about God’s precious promises!
Ask: How can we remember that Jesus is with us always? How can we trust when we don’t understand what God is doing?
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. -Luke 2:49-52
At the end of this story, we see how Jesus, even at a young age, knew who and Whose He was. He realized His connection with God the Father. At the same time, He knew He needed to obey His earthly parents and submit to their wishes. Jesus continued to grow physically and spiritually.
We can rejoice that Jesus was fully God and fully man, and as such was able to die in our place. We also see that Jesus submitted to His role as a human. If He, being God, was able to abide by the wishes of His parents, we can listen to our moms and dads, too!
Close with prayer, thanking God for sending Jesus to rescue us. Ask for help in obeying parents and God, and growing in wisdom and stature like Jesus.
And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house? Luke 2:49
Sunday School Craft Ideas
Craft: The crafts for this lesson include items that encourage us to “seek and find” things, as well as elements of the story itself, reminding kids of the importance of obeying God and man.
- Create a “scroll” like the ones that may have been read in the temple. Attach a long strip of paper between two toilet paper tubes or a cut paper towel tube. Write ideas on the paper to consider how we can serve God and parents.
- Make a maze! Draw a simple design on paper or cardstock to find a way through. Alternatively, create a 3-dimensional maze by creating a path out of cut drinking straws or toothpicks. Roll a marble or small ball between the straws.
- Make a seek and find. Draw a simple picture and hide objects within, using other doodles.
- Use simple items such as popsicle sticks or toilet paper tubes to make a small scene of Mary, Joseph, and boy Jesus.
Bible Verses or Craft Captions to Consider… (Luke 2:41-52)
And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man. -Luke 2:52
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. -Luke 2:49-50
Keep seeking HIM…follow Jesus!
Keep JESUS in the center!
Don’t miss Jesus!
I follow God by….. / I follow my parents by……