John had a very close relationship with Jesus as one of his most trustworthy disciples, but even he made mistakes! In the second lesson of the series, “Forever Changed,” children will learn how Jesus turned John’s prideful moments into humble lessons for the future. In addition, John continued to be a leader of the believers after the resurrection and his evident and humble heart change is visible through his writings.
TARGET AGES: 10-14
OBJECTIVE: To outline how Jesus’ resurrection made a difference in John’s life.
MAIN IDEA: John was one of Jesus’ trusted friends, but even he had moments of sin that Jesus corrected. The resurrection increased John’s humility, and he became a leader of the early church.
SCRIPTURE PASSAGES: Matthew 17:1-3, Mark 14:32-34, Luke 9:49-50, Mark 10:35-45, John 20:1-10 & 30-31, Revelation 1:1-2 & 9
MATERIAL(S): index cards (optional), “Resurrection Opposites” game cards on card stock paper (download attachment)
Introduction (10 minutes)
OPENING PRAYER: “God, help us learn from the disciple John and choose obedience to your word. Thank you for dying for our sins and giving us victory over death through your resurrection. Amen.”
ICEBREAKER REVIEW AND DISCUSSION: Say, “Last week we learned how James’ became a believer after Jesus personally appeared to him when Jesus came back to life. James then became the leader of the Jerusalem church. Today we are going to learn how Jesus’ resurrection affected the disciple John, one of Jesus’ closest friends.” Ask the children to comment on what they already know about John (he was a fisherman, he had a brother named James, he wrote the books of John and Revelation, etc) and make a list on the board. Say, “John had a great reputation of being obedient to God, but we will see that even he was changed from the inside out when Jesus was resurrected.”
Lesson (20 minutes)
*Consider writing each scripture passage on an index card and giving each child a reference to read in order to involve more people in the lesson discussion.
- Make the distinction that the gospels speak a lot about John the Baptist, but today’s lesson is about John the disciple. Read Matthew 17:1-3 (the transfiguration) and Mark 14:32-34 (Gethsamane). Ask, “How many disciples did Jesus take with him to both of these events (three)? What clues about John’s character do we learn from these scriptures since Jesus chose to include him in both events (that he was trustworthy, reliable, a vital leader among the disciples, etc)?” Explain that it’s clear John had a close relationship with Jesus, but he also had moments of pride that brought on the Savior’s correction.
- Read Luke 9:49-50. Ask for a volunteer to explain why it might have bothered John that someone else was driving out demons in Jesus’ name (e.g. because the other person wasn’t as close to Jesus). Comment, “Jesus told John to leave the man alone because, ‘whoever is not against [us] is for [us].’ What does that statement mean (other believers have the same rights and authority to be used by God)? Apparently John had a little bit of pride inside his heart because he was one of Jesus’ friends.” Acknowledge that we also need to guard against pride and jealousy when other believers are successfully used by God.
- Next, read Mark 10:35-45 and give a brief summary of the passage. Ask the children to comment about what seems silly or immature about John (and James’) request (they asked for something selfish, they did it behind the other disciples’ backs, they claimed they could handle what Jesus would go through, etc). Ask, “What was Jesus response to John and his brother (that it wasn’t his decision to make who would sit next to him in heaven)? What happened when the other disciples found out about their request (they were upset)? How did Jesus handle the conflict and what did he teach the disciples (he gathered them together and reminded them that they were to follow his example as a servant).” Compare Jesus’ response to that of a teacher or parent: When several children are upset, it’s helpful to bring them together for correction and give them a reminder of expectations. Lead to the final part of the lesson by saying, “But we will see a growth in John’s humility after Jesus’ resurrection. He learned from Jesus’ lessons on earth and became a servant-leader within the early church after the resurrection.”
- Ask the class to listen as you read the account of the empty tomb found in John 20:1-10 (identify John as “the disciple Jesus loved”). Ask, “What did John do in this passage (outran Peter and reached the tomb first but didn’t go in, saw and believed after he followed Peter into the tomb)? What did John see that helped him believe (the cloths that had been wrapped around Jesus)?” Talk about John’s hesitant reaction to the empty tomb and ask the children to comment on how they may have reacted. Tell the class that Peter and John continued their friendship throughout the book of Acts where they continually preached the gospel of Jesus Christ and healed the sick, even while facing imprisonments and other trials. Say, “John wrote the books of John, 1, 2, & 3 John, and Revelation after Jesus’ resurrection, and there is apparent humility in his writings.” Lastly, read John 20:30-31 and Revelation 1:1-2 & 9.Ask, “Who received credit for John’s writings (Christ)? What was John’s purpose in writing (that others would believe and be assured that he shared in their sufferings)?” Reiterate the transformation of John’s heart from subtle pride to incredible humility after Jesus’ resurrection.
Matching Game: “Resurrection Opposites” *Attachment (15 minutes)
Print and cut the memory game cards (download attachment) on card stock paper. You may print one set for the entire class or one set for every 2-3 children in a small group. Say, “We are trying to find opposite matches when playing this game. So, if you find ‘hateful’ on one card you would then try to find the card that says, ‘loving.’” Help the children identify the opposites as they play and allow them to play additional rounds if time permits. Then review the matches to instill how we should act because we have been changed by the resurrection.
Conclusion (5 minutes)
RECAP: John was a close friend and confidant of Jesus whose inward pride turned into outward humility after the resurrection. We too should cling to the wondrous hope that Christ’s resurrection gives and dedicate our lives to spreading the message of Jesus’ victory over death!
CLOSING PRAYER: “Lord, we know we are changed because of the resurrection. Help us follow John’s example of humble and faithful servanthood. Amen.”