Children’s Church Lesson: John the Baptist Prepares the Way for Jesus
Text: Matthew 3:1-12
Learning Objectives: After this lesson, children will demonstrate understanding of the ministry of John the Baptist … by explaining in their own words what John’s Baptism meant.
Target Age: Kindergarten – 5th
- Marked Bible for this passage. Prepare the copy in advance by highlighting the significant points to emphasize. Underlining words or ideas that will need additional explanation. I typically make small notes in the margin.
Explanation: This passage has a strong Gospel implication for children. Too often children are not taught about the meaning of repentance and baptism.
Invite a volunteer to come to the front of the class. Try to pick a child who has already been baptized or your own child. Without explanation to the class, pretend to baptize them. Then ask the class if they knew what you just did. Say, “Today we are going to learn about the special job that God gave to John the Baptist.”
Active Listening: Ask the children to listen carefully for two special word groups in this passage. Say, “Every time you hear either of these word groups, I want you to stand up, turn around, say ‘new life’ and sit down.” Briefly introduce the following terms. Have the children practice the stand up, turn around, say ‘new life’ and sit down movement.
- Repent or repentance – to be sorry about sin, to stop sinning, to stop fighting God and start a new life of obeying God
- Baptize or baptism – this is a way to picture or act out repentance, a person is put totally under water and then raised back up
Read (and summarize) Matthew 3:1-12. (Read with emotion and pause often to engage the children with the reading.) Be sure to pause on the words repent or baptize to allow the children to stand up, turn around, say ‘new life’ and sit back down.
Another Way To Say: Ask the children to find another way to say the following sentences.
- I’m going to stop sinning.
- I’m going to obey God.
- I want to live a new life.
Is This Repentance: Say, “I’m going to tell you three short stories. I want you to decide if the people in this story have really repented of their sins. I want you stand up if you think this is a story of true repentance, if not cross your arms and stay seated.” Flesh out the following ideas in ways that relate to your children.
- A boy is caught stealing at school. He blames the teacher for picking on him. He pays back but only because his mom makes him. Is this repentance?
- A little girl who tells lies – “my mom is a movie star” “my dress cost $2,000” “the teachers told me I was her favorite” – begins to feel very sorry for this sin. She knows that God said lying is wicked. She prays for God’s help to stop lying and does her best to always tell the truth. She even goes back and says she’s sorry to the people she lied. Is this repentance?
- A dad gets angry a lot. Every little thing makes him yell and even say bad words. He feels bad about this. Sometimes he even says he’s sorry. But he does not change. He does not get help from God. Is this repentance?
Test: Ask for volunteers to explain in their own words what did John’s baptism mean?