Use this children’s Sunday School lesson to teach kids the seriousness of following Jesus.
Needed: Bibles, a deck of game cards, a large rock, optional camping supplies, a blindfold
Intro Game: Fast Reflexes
Lay out a deck of game cards on a table, face up. The cards could be regular playing cards, UNO cards, Go Fish! cards, etc.
Students gather around the table. You’ll call out a type of card (a number, color, shape, etc.). The last student to reach out and touch that type of card is out.
The last student in the game wins and becomes the caller for the next round.
Show your camping supplies if you brought any. Ask students, How many of you have ever been camping?
Did you like it?
What if you had to camp your whole life and not have a tent or a camper or anything? And you didn’t have a house or an apartment to go live in? You had to sleep on the ground and live outside all the time? And use a rock for your pillow (you’re your rock)?
(Read Matthew 8:18-20.)
“When Jesus saw the crowd around Him, He gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. Then a teacher of the law came to Him and said, ‘Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.’
“Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.’”
Jesus said that He camped out most of the time. He said birds have nests to live in and foxes have holes in the ground that they can sleep in, but Jesus didn’t have a house or even a pillow to sleep on. He usually had to sleep outside.
And He said that if we want to believe in Him, we have to be ready to do the same things He did. If Jesus asked us to, we would have to camp outside all the time. Whatever Jesus says, that’s what we have to do.
Or maybe if someone wanted to arrest us because we believed in Jesus, we would have to run away and sleep outside. People in other countries are arrested if they believe in Jesus, and sometimes, they’re even killed.
Believing in Jesus isn’t easy. It’s dangerous. And you have to think ahead of time, right now, if you’re brave enough to believe in Jesus. It’s like last week when we built that tower and had to think if we had enough bricks; you have to think if you’re brave enough to believe in Jesus your whole life and can do what Jesus tells you to. You have to be brave enough to do whatever scary or unpleasant thing Jesus tells you to do.
You have to be brave enough to be a Christian, even if you get in trouble for it. You have to be brave. Who thinks they can be brave enough to follow Jesus? Who thinks they want to believe in Jesus their whole life?
(Read Matthew 8:21-22.)
“Another disciple said to Him, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’
“But Jesus told him, ‘Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.’”
Another man asked Jesus to let him go bury his father, and then he would come to follow Jesus, but Jesus told him to let the dead bury their own dead and for him to follow Jesus. What did Jesus mean by saying that to the man? Did Jesus really not want the man to go to his father’s funeral? (No.)
The man’s father might not have been dead yet, and the man was simply telling Jesus that he would follow Him sometime in the future after his father had died. Maybe he was trying to put Jesus off so that he didn’t have to follow Him right then.
Jesus wants us to love and take care of our families, but Jesus also wants us to know that we can only be a follower of Jesus if we make Jesus the most important thing in our lives. We can’t wait to follow Jesus. And when we do follow Jesus, He has to be even more important to us than our own father or our own mother or our brothers or sisters or friends. Jesus has to be the most important.
To be a follower of Jesus, you have to be brave and be able to do whatever hard thing Jesus tells you to do. And you have to make sure you love Jesus more than anything or anyone else in the whole world because Jesus is most important.
Game: Listening for God
Pick one student to be the Follower. They wear a blindfold. Everyone else calls their name along with the teacher. The Follower’s job is to listen for the teacher’s voice and walk toward the teacher, blocking out all of the other voices. When the student makes it to the teacher, remove the blindfold and choose the next student to be the Follower. The first student is now the “voice of God.” Play as long as time allows or until every student has had a chance to play both roles.
Explain that there are a lot of things and people that could distract us from following Jesus but that we have to put Jesus first in our lives. We have to listen to Him and be ready to follow Him no matter what.
Activity: Acting It Out
Divide students into groups of two or three. Have each group decide on and act out a scene in which someone makes an excuse for why they can’t follow Jesus, but the other person or persons explain why they can’t wait.
Game: Fast Reflexes
Play the intro game again and remind students that we can’t wait to follow Jesus. We can’t make excuses. We have to obey Him immediately, just like they need to be quick to play this game.
Jesus, we pray that You’ll make us brave and help us to love You in the way that You deserve. Help us always to put You first and to be willing to do whatever you ask us to. Amen.
You can also find this lesson for Kindle or in print in my book, The Parables and Teachings of Jesus Vol. 1.