Use this children’s Sunday School lesson about Jesus and Nicodemus to teach kids what it means to be born again.
Needed: Bibles, a balloon for each student, blankets or sheets or beach towels, various objects
Intro Game: Up and Down
Give the students blankets, sheets, or beach towels to hold between them. You can break the students into teams or have them complete the following challenges together.
1. Bounce an object 5, 10, and 20 times without dropping it.
2. See how high they can bounce an object.
3. Bounce more than one object for 30 seconds without dropping any of them.
4. Bounce an object while spinning their blanket, sheet, or towel. (Everyone in the circle moves one step between bounces.)
5. Bounce and object while hopping. (Everyone takes one hop between bounces.)
You can add more complicated challenges if your group is doing well. As you finish, point out that all the object were flying through the air, but you never saw the air.
Ask students, What are the differences between a newborn baby and someone your age?
It’s easy to see the differences between newborn babies and those who are older. But there are other things you can’t tell about people only by looking at them.
When you look at someone, how can you tell whether he or she is good or bad? (You can’t.)
In the same way, you can’t really tell if a person is a Christian by looking at his or her appearance. In the Bible, there was a man named Nicodemus who didn’t understand one of Jesus’ stories because he was thinking about a person’s outside appearance only.
(Read John 3:1-2.)
“Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, ‘Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs You are doing if God were not with Him.’”
What does it say Nicodemus was? (A Pharisee.)
That means he was a leader for the church and for his country.
When did Nicodemus go see Jesus (At night.)
Why did he go see Jesus at night instead of during the day?
He wanted to go at night, when it would be dark out, so that no one would see him talking to Jesus. He wanted it to be secret so that the other Pharisees wouldn’t make fun of him for believing in Jesus.
(Read John 3:3-4.)
“Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.’
“’How can someone be born when they are old?’ Nicodemus asked. ‘Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!’”
What did Nicodemus think Jesus meant when he talked about a man being “born again”? (Nicodemus thought Jesus meant somebody’s body being born again, like they had to be a little baby again.)
(Read John 3:5-7.)
“Jesus answered, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, “You must be born again.’”
Did Jesus mean that our bodies had to be born again, or was He talking about something else?
Jesus was talking about the inside of a person. Jesus meant that our souls are “born again” when we believe in Jesus. That’s because when you believe in Jesus, your life changes. You stop doing bad things and start doing good things. You don’t live how you want to live anymore. You live how God wants you to live. It’s like you’re starting all over in life. You’ve got a fresh start. It’s like you’re being born again.
(Read John 3:8.)
“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
When we believe in Jesus and become Christians, the Holy Spirit comes to live inside of us. Can any of you see God or the Holy Spirit? (No.)
Then how do you know He’s there?
(Give each student a balloon and tell them to blow it up.)
Look in your balloon. Can you see the air in there? (No.)
You can’t see the air. The air is clear. You can only see that the balloon got filled up. That’s the same way it is with God and the Holy Spirit. We can’t see them, but we know they’re there because we see what they do. We can see the world God created. And we know the Holy Spirit is living inside us because we can feel Him telling us what the right things to do are.
Game: Born Again Relay
Remind students that Nicodemus wondered how a man could be born when he was old. Say, He didn’t understand that Jesus didn’t mean our bodies. He meant that He wants to give our spirits a fresh start. But when we first believe in Jesus, we are kind of like babies. We don’t know very much about God or Jesus or how we’re supposed to live. Then, we learn, and we grow up to be the mature people God wants us to be.
So, to act that out, we’re going to play a game in which your team goes from an old man like Nicodemus to a baby that was just born to a mature person.
One by one, the team members perform the following actions. Only once all of the team members have complete each leg can the team move on to the next leg. The first team to have all of their members complete all three legs wins.
Leg 1. All of the team members walk slowly like an old man.
Leg 2. All of the team members crawl like a baby.
Leg 3. All of the team members run like a mature person.
Game: Go to Heaven!
Kids form a circle around a blanket or parachute, holding it between them. The leader places various objects on the blanket or parachute. Students count to three and then shout, “Go to Heaven!” as they try to fling the object into the sky as high as possible.
Once they’ve done this a few times, ask if the things they bounced up ever got to Heaven. Say, No matter how high we get something to go, we can’t make it go to Heaven. The only way to get to Heaven is by believing in Jesus and being born again so that you make a fresh start with God to stop doing bad things and start doing good things and let the Holy Spirit come live inside of you.
Jesus, we pray that You’ll give all of a fresh start. Send Your Holy Spirit into our hearts and help us to become the mature people You want us to be. Amen.
You can also find this lesson for Kindle or in print in my book, Jesus Starts His Work.