There are a couple of important principles evident in the story of Christ clearing out the temple of Jerusalem. For one thing, we see that Jesus demonstrated anger, which is no sin…however, this was a justifiable anger, aimed at evil against the Lord’s house. Jesus did not have a temper tantrum; He was showing who He was. Jesus was the fulfillment of Old Testament practices and prophecies. We need to point to Him always, and communicate with kids that He did what He promised.
Lesson focus: Jesus was committed to His earthly mission, as well as honoring God. We can demonstrate passion for God’s will, and also recognize wo Christ was and what He did.
Passage: John 2:13-22
Target Audience: Kindergarten-6th Grade (adaptable older or younger)
Materials Needed: Paper, yarn, beads, packing or duct tape; blocks, puppets, props.
–Temple building….and destroying….and cleaning! Break the group into two or three teams (depending on group size). Provide children with foam or wood blocks, or stacks of boxes. Give teams a time limit, and see who can build the tallest tower. Then, have the teams knock over their towers. Have another race to see who can clean up the fastest.
-Temple for what?? Discuss or lead students on a tour of the church area. Stop at spots along the way and discuss what different rooms and spaces are for and how they help worship.
Explain that today’s lesson has to do with the church, and with the person of Jesus. Remind kids that the church building is important, but Jesus is really the most important part of worship.
Invite students to open their Bibles and find a partner or trio….invite them to read the passage within small groups, helping new readers as necessary. Assign groups different methods of interpreting the passage: have one crew act it out, another draw it, another act with puppets, etc….first, have the groups read through the verses, pausing at spaces briefly to clarify and discuss.
When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.” -John 2:13-17
Take a peek at the “zeal for your house will consume me” reference (Psalm 69:9). Explain that Jesus came fulfilling things that were spoken in the Old Testament. He is the ultimate manifestation of all that the Old Testament looks to and points to. For this incident, though, the temple leaders were not too happy that He came and drove people out with a whip…the response of Jesus is significant. When He answers the Jews, they become confused, but He was referring to Himself. In the Old Testament, the temple was an important place, as it represented the dwelling place of the Lord. When Jesus came, HE was the dwelling place of God.
The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”
19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”
20 They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.
After reading through and discussing the passage, invite the teams to present it with their pictures or skits. Field further questions, and talk about how Jesus was passionate about the temple and about His work as the new temple. Re-visit the importance of what is happening. While it is interesting to see Jesus overturning tables and wielding a whip, the key thing to note is why He is doing so. Church is not a place for a money changing event…we need to remember, too, that church is an important place. However, we do not worship the temple. We worship in the temple, and we worship the temple of CHRIST.
Offer a couple of craft options (do both if time allows). For one, create a “whip” (emphasis on fun and creative), using yarn of various colors, as well as beads. Wrap with tape and attach a verse.
Alternately, create a set of “keys.” Cut key shapes out of cardstock or cardboard, and write on them varying words to remind what church is for (worship, praise, prayer, fellowship). Attach to a pipe cleaner “key ring.”
Close with prayer and reminder of God’s work in our lives. Ask for strength as we look to Christ alone for our hope and strength in all things.
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