MAIN IDEA: Satan tried using trials to deter the birth of Christ and now he works to distract us from the real reason we celebrate Christmas. When we remind ourselves why Jesus came and trust God’s plan then we will be better equipped to protect our hearts from sin this holiday season.
SCRIPTURE PASSAGES: Matthew 1:18-21 & 24, Luke 2:4-7, Matthew 2:16 & 19-23
TARGET AGES: 10-14 years old
MATERIAL(S): a bible map of Israel (during the time of Jesus’ birth), masking/painter’s tape, 2 large boxes, blank notebook or computer paper
OPTIONAL: Download our free King Herod & Baby Jesus coloring page. Click on the preview image to the right to view close-up.
Introduction (5 minutes)
OPENING PRAYER: “Lord, help us focus on you this Christmas by disregarding distractions and faithfully sharing your love with others. Amen.”
ICE BREAKER DISCUSSION: Ask, “How many of you have seen the movie, ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’? What words can we use to describe the Grinch (mean, selfish, rude, etc)? Well, the real ‘Grinch’ in the world, Satan, shares these same attributes and tried to use distractions surrounding Jesus’ birth to keep, or ‘steal,’ the very first Christmas! He continues working today to distract us from the real reason we celebrate Christmas.”
Lesson (20 minutes)
- Say, “There were trials surrounding Jesus’ birth and early life that Satan tried to use to deter God’s plan. Let’s read our first bible passage found in Matthew 1:18-21 & 24.” Read the scripture and then explain that being engaged during Jesus’ time was like being married without a having a physical relationship, so that’s why Joseph was going to divorce Mary. Ask, “Why didn’t Joseph divorce Mary (because God told him not to in the dream)? What could have happened if Joseph was disobedient to God’s command (Satan could have used the opportunity to try and harm Mary)?” Explain that Joseph’s amazing faith despite the trial he and Mary faced was used by God to protect the preborn Savior. Comment, “One way we can limit distractions is by sharing our faith with others.”
- Next read Luke 2:4-7. Ask, “What trial did Joseph and Mary face in this passage (there was nowhere for them to stay and for Mary to give birth to Jesus)?” Explain that newborns are very fragile and require much attention not only during birth but immediately after birth as well. Say, “It must have been very scary for Joseph and Mary when Jesus was born in a stable, but through this trial we can see that God provided protection over all of them! We understand through this trial that distractions won’t keep God’s ultimate plan from happening.” Reiterate that trusting God’s purposes is another way to limit distractions.
- Say, “Another distraction influenced by Satan was carried out through the ruler Herod.” Explain that before the Wise men (Magi) had arrived with gifts for Jesus, Herod had ordered they return to him with information regarding Jesus’ location. However, the Wise men had been warned in a dream to not return to Herod. Read Matthew 2:16. Ask, “What was Herod’s reaction when the Wise men didn’t return (he was furious)? How do we know he had evil motives (because then he ordered that all the baby boys in Bethlehem be killed)?” Discuss that someone else’s sin, such as pride, selfishness, or arrogance, can distract us from the beauty of Christ’s birth. Comment, “When we view Christmas as an opportunity for selfish gain – like Herod did – then we are distracted from the true reason Jesus was born.” Clarify that a way this evil thinking is manifested today is by being consumed with the evil desire to get as many things as possible at Christmas.
- Lastly, read Matthew 2:19-23. Using the bible map, show the class how Joseph and Mary traveled in order to protect Jesus. Say, “Sometimes we must literally stay away from people who distract us from God’s purposes so we can protect our own hearts. This Christmas let’s allow God to show us how to eliminate distractions and keep our eyes on the wonder of Jesus’ birth.”
Game: Snowball War (15 minutes)
Tape off a dividing line on the floor and place a box on both sides within ten feet of the line. Then ask each class member to wad up at least five sheets of paper to form snowballs. After splitting the class into teams say, “The team who gets the most snowballs into the opposing team’s box wins!” Add that they may protect their boxes by deflecting enemy snowballs. After the game comment, “This game was a fun way to teach us to tirelessly protect our hearts (the boxes) from sin’s temptations (the snowballs). Remember that Satan wanted to stop the birth of Christ, so he will certainly try to distract us from the real meaning of Christmas.”
Conclusion (5 minutes)
RECAP: Don’t let the Grinch (Satan) steal Christmas! Sharing our faith, trusting and rejoicing in God’s plan, and humbly focusing on the reason Christ was born will help eliminate distractions this Christmas.
CLOSING PRAYER: “God, we want to focus on Jesus this Christmas. Please remove the distractions that battle for our hearts. Amen.”