Jesus Rules All! Sunday School Lesson on John 18:33-37

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Crown Him Lord…on the last Sunday of the “church calendar” year, we celebrate that Jesus Christ is the King. This may not be a widely honored holiday, but is a special time to remember that Jesus rules over all things, and that we want to put God first in our lives. Jesus came to lead as a humble servant. He continues to lead us and should be made authority over our hearts.

Lesson focus: This lesson explores moments early in the life and ministry of Jesus, reminding us that He was born to be king and lived to take away sin and pain. The Scripture also describes how Christ spoke up to Pilate expressing His Lordship not over this world, but over a different kind of kingdom. The goal for students is to honor Christ and place Him first in all things.

Passage: John 18:33-37; John 1:49; John 12:13-15; Luke 1:33; Matthew 2:2

Target Audience: Kindergarten-6th grade

Materials Needed: Construction paper; glue; markers or crayons; tape; scissors; decorative supplies; yarn/string; aluminum foil; Bibles.

More Teaching Ideas:

Activities and Game to Introduce the Lesson

Lesson Opening: This lesson focuses on how Jesus is our King, looking at His power and authority in our lives and considering what it means to rule as royalty. Have fun kicking things off with some king-themed activities or games, such as:

  • Follow the king: play a few rounds of “follow the leader” or “Simon says”, designating one child at a time to be the “king” making the rules or acting out motions for others to follow.
  • Who is the king? Place a special sticker under one chair in the room, distinguishing the student in that chair as “king” to make up a rule or motion that everyone else must obey for a few minutes. Rotate the chair around and take turns with different students as “kings.”
  • Discuss various jobs that people have in the community. Have students draw a picture representing a career they might like to have. Talk about how Jesus did a lot of various things, but most importantly He was the king!
  • Decorate a cookie or rice cake with toppings to resemble a crown.
  • Talk about what it means to be a king. Explore some pictures, names, and responsibilities of famous royalty.

Remind students that Jesus came to conquer sin and give us new life. He came to rule over all things, but people didn’t always realize or recognize who He was. They expected Jesus to act like an Earthly king and overthrow political oppression. Jesus is king, but not of this world. He is king of Heaven and of us!

Sunday School Lesson (John 18:33-37) Jesus Rules All!

Bible Lesson: There are a few texts in this lesson. The first deal with prophetic words about Jesus as king, spoken and repeated before His birth and early in His life. The last couple of passages take place at the end of His time on Earth. You might select one or two students to take turns reading, or you can read the verses out loud yourself. If students can follow along, have them speak the parts that are in quotes for people to voice. Choose the preferred reading method for your group ages and size.

Start with the announcement of who Jesus would be, given to Mary before the Messiah’s birth:

He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”  -Luke 1:32-33

Mary was hearing for the first time that she would give birth to the Savior. The angel here informs her that Jesus will be given the throne. This is not a throne in a palace on Earth, but will be a kingdom with “no end.” Jesus was born already having reign over all things.

Ask: How would you feel if you learned you were getting a baby brother or sister, and someone told you he or she would be the ruler of everything? Would you believe it?
(Older students) What does this tell us about who Jesus was and is? 

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” -Matthew 2:1-2

We often see these wise men in Nativity scenes and Christmas plays. But sometimes we forget to recognize how significant this was. These men were scholars and astronomers. They lived far away from where Jesus was born, and didn’t follow Jewish customs. Yet they knew something was special when they saw the night sky. They traveled many miles and risked their lives to come and worship this newborn king. They were bold to acknowledge that He was “born king of the Jews.”

Ask: The wise men brought gifts for Jesus as a baby. What would you give Jesus as a gift? What should you give Him now, recognizing His kingship and power in our lives?

The next passages take place near the end of Christ’s life on Earth. The first is the joyous occasion of Palm Sunday, when Jesus rode into Jerusalem amidst crowds and shouts of support, people cheering Him as king and looking to Him for hope and life…

So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” 14 And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,

15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion;
behold, your king is coming,
    sitting on a donkey’s colt!” -John 12:13-15

This “palm parade” was actually predicted long before by a prophet named Zechariah. Here, Jesus is celebrated and honored as king of Israel. But it wouldn’t be long before those cheers turned to jeers and people mocked Jesus for claiming to be a King. They didn’t fully understand what was happening or why He had come to Earth.

The final passage (and Gospel lesson if following lectionary for Christ the king Sunday) takes place while Jesus is being questioned by Pilate. Explain to students that the Roman governor Pilate did not think Jesus had done anything wrong, but people were angry and wanted Him killed. Ultimately, His “crime” was claiming to be King of the Jews. In this interview, Jesus reveals that His is not an Earthly kingdom:

So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” 35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” 37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” -John 18:33-37

Jesus tries to explain something that Pilate won’t quite understand. He says that He came into the world to be a witness to the truth. Jesus came to live and to die. He came to be a king, but not the kind Pilate or anyone else expected. He came as ruler of a Heavenly kingdom.

Jesus is not the king of earthly things or governments. We can look around the world today and see very few people honoring Him as Lord. But we also have the choice of putting Him first in our lives. He is not of this world, and neither are we. We have a Heavenly citizenship to rejoice in. Since we belong in Heaven, we belong to the kingdom over which Christ is king. We know that He is he primary power and authority of all things!

Ask: How can we practice putting Jesus first in our daily lives? (Consider things like honoring Him with prayer and Bible study, going to church, behaving with love towards others, etc.)

Close with prayer, acknowledging God as Lord and king and asking for His help in maintaining that role in our lives daily.

Craft: This lesson of course recognizes the once and forever rule of our great God. Honoring Jesus as king and putting Him first can also mean celebrating His power and authority. Consider a craft that follows the king or ruler element…

  • Paper crown: cut strips of paper in a crown shape. Fit to students’ heads and invite them to decorate the crowns with colors and jewels.
  • Paper plate crown: color and decorate a paper plate. Carefully fold the plate in half and cut two lines to create four quadrants that can be folded up into points.
  • Paper bag “King” puppet: decorate a paper bag as a king, or perhaps add features to look like Jesus, and add a crown.
  • Cross and crown: Decorate a crown, either full-sized or on a small scale for decoration. Attach a paper cross or two popsicle sticks glued to form a cross. Wear or hang to recall who the true king is.
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