Get your children’s ministry in the holiday spirit in just minutes with our Sunday School Lesson for Christmas: Jesus is the Best Ever. This Sunday school lesson comes from Dig In Sunday School Curriculum.
Dig Into the Bible
Read: Luke 2:1-7
In This Passage: Mary and Joseph are required to travel to Bethlehem for a census, even though Mary is pregnant. When they arrive, they can’t find any lodging and have to stay in a barn. It’s there that Mary gives birth to her baby boy—Jesus! Jesus is God’s gift to us—the best gift ever!
Bible Point: Jesus is the best gift ever.
Summary Verse: “And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born” (Luke 2:6).
You’ll Be Teaching: Jesus is the best gift ever. Kids love to receive Christmas presents. Those who get what they want will tell everyone about their awesome gifts. In the midst of all the “gimmes” kids can get at Christmastime, help them see that Jesus is a far better gift than the latest gadget.
Think About: What do you want for Christmas? Why do you want it so much? How does Jesus compare to it?
Dig Into Prayer
You may have a lot of visitors around the holidays. Pray for the kids who will visit and really need to hear about the gift of Jesus.
Because of the holiday season, your kids may be extra energetic. Try to keep the lesson on track, but be patient and flexible! Try allowing a few extra minutes of Christmas chatting before or after the lesson.
Opening (5 min)
- Thank kids for coming.
- Just for fun, have kids say “Merry Christmas” to four friends.
- Make announcements.
- Introduce new kids.
- Celebrate birthdays by saying “Happy birthday, Jesus” and finding out who else has a birthday this week.
- Collect the offering.
Introduce the Lesson
Say: Today we’ll learn about when Jesus came to earth as a baby—a gift for us. Jesus is the best gift ever. That’s what Christmas is all about!
Tell kids about a place you usually go around Christmas, such as a family member’s house, an event, or a special store.
Have kids form small groups and tell about a place they usually go around Christmas.
Open a Bible, and say: Today we’ll celebrate Christmas and that Jesus is the best gift ever, and we’ll explore what that means to us. We’ll dig into the Bible to find out. The Bible is another one of God’s special gifts. It’s one way God teaches us and talks to us. God is ready to teach you and talk to you right now.
Pray, thanking God for Jesus—the best gift ever.
Core Bible Discovery (20 min)
Christmas: Jesus Is Born (Luke 2:1-7)
- 1 pebble per child
- spray bottle of lukewarm water
- masking tape
- a wrapped package containing birthday cake, plates, and forks
Use masking tape to make a narrow, winding pathway leading from one side of the room to the other.
Make a masking-tape square at each end of the path. One square should be large enough to hold all of your kids. The other square should be very small.
Take a Census
Have kids form small groups of no more than four.
Say: Let’s take a census. A census is a list of people along with information about their families. Write the name of everyone in your group. Also, note the number of people in each person’s family.
Have kids take the census in their groups. Have them add up the total number of people in all the families.
When groups are finished, ask for a tally of the total number from each group.
Say: In the Bible, when the government did a census, it was so they could get money from people. So now you have to give me $10 for every person in your group’s total.
Pause for a reaction, and then tell kids you’re just kidding about them owing you money but that the government in the Bible really did do that.
Say: When I read about that in the Bible, you’ll make a trumpet noise whenever you hear the word “census.” Read aloud Luke 2:1-3, pausing for kids to make trumpet sounds.
Say: The census was the first step in God’s plan to send the best gift ever. He wanted to give the gift of Jesus in a special place called Bethlehem.
Pick up the wrapped gift, and ask who wants to know what’s inside. Tell kids it’s a great gift, but it’s not the best gift ever. Then set it down and tell them they’ll have to wait.
Take a Trip
Say: In order to be counted in the census, a couple named Mary and Joseph had to go from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. Mary and Joseph were married and were expecting a baby. Let’s take the trip with them.
Have kids each put a pebble in one shoe. Then have all the kids stand in the larger square, which represents Jerusalem.
Read aloud Luke 2:4-5.
Lead kids on a walk through the narrow pathway to “Bethlehem” (the small square).
As kids journey, pause periodically to allow them to experience some of the difficulties of the trip as listed below.
Say: There might be lions or other dangerous animals. Have kids pause and make lion sounds.
Say: There could be robbers. Have kids show a scared face.
Say: It’s through a desert, so you might get hot and sweaty! Spray kids with the water.
Say: You’d have to sleep outside along the way. Step off the path and lie down on the side of the road. Have kids “sleep” for a few seconds.
Say: Now get back up and keep moving! This trip also takes us through Samaria—a city where no one likes us. Have kids making booing sounds.
Say: Your feet might be hurting because of the pebbles. I’m guessing their feet hurt, too. They had to travel for about 10 days, probably on foot! And Mary was pregnant. Walk slower and hold your back because it hurts. Have kids walk slower for a little bit.
- How do you feel right now?
Continue until everyone is at or near Bethlehem. Start to pick up the gift again, but then set it back down and say it’s not time yet. Say: You’ll love this gift! But it’s not the best gift ever!
Say: Wow, Bethlehem is really crowded! It looks like there’s not enough room for all of us. When Mary and Joseph finally got there, there was no room for them. So they had to stay in a barn, where they could finally rest.
Lead the kids to a new location that can be the barn. Have kids make barn sounds as they take the pebbles out of their shoes.
Read Luke 2:6-7, and have kids make baby crying noises.
Say: God’s gift had come! Jesus is the best gift ever! Some people had waited a long time for the gift of Jesus, just like you’ve been waiting a long time to see what our present is. Let’s open it now.
Have kids help you unwrap the gift box with the cake in it, and then distribute Jesus’ birthday cake to everyone. Before eating the cake, say: Christmas is a fun time of year. But the best part is that it’s Jesus’ birthday. Let’s celebrate his birthday and that he is the best gift ever! Have kids sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus, and then eat the cake.
- What makes Jesus a good gift?
Say: God gave Jesus to us as a gift. Jesus is the best gift ever! Electronics can break or get old, but Jesus doesn’t. Jesus is the best gift! Money can get used up, but Jesus is always there. Jesus is the best gift! Jesus is the only gift that lasts forever because he gives us eternal life! Thank you, God!
High-Energy Game (10 min)
Best Gift Relay
- 12 index cards
Make 2 sets of index cards. Each set should have one each of the following words: phone, video game, money, toy, book, movie.
Set the index cards near a wall, along with the tape.
Have a Relay
Have kids form two teams.
Say: We’re going to have a relay. The first person in each line will run down, tape these cards on the wall in order from best gift to worst gift, and then run back. The second person in each line, you’ll run down and rearrange them if you don’t agree with the order. You’ll keep playing until no one in line has any changes to make.
Allow time for play. Because kids won’t likely all agree on the order of best to worst gifts, the game should have no natural end. When you feel like enough time has passed, end the game.
Talk About It
- Why was it hard to agree on which gifts were better than others?
- Where would you put Jesus on this list? Why?
(Note: Many kids will automatically say “first” because it seems like the right answer. Challenge them to think about why they would put Jesus there. Don’t force the right answer—listen to kids and spark a discussion about whether or not they think Jesus really is better than the other gifts.)
Say: Other gifts can sometimes seem better than Jesus. We can buy fun things with money or have a lot of fun playing a new video game. But Jesus is the best gift ever because he’s the only gift that lasts forever and that truly fills us with real joy and peace.
Object Lesson (10 min)
Putting Things in Order
- tall glass
- 1 large clear plastic cup and 4 smaller cups for every 4 kids
- dish soap (any color but yellow)
- vegetable oil
Pour a little bit of each liquid into 4 small cups, 1 liquid per cup. You’ll need 1 set of the liquids for each group of 4 kids.
Mix It Up
Say: Jesus is the best gift ever. Sometimes other gifts might seem better.
- What’s a gift someone might think is better than Jesus?
Say: But Jesus will always come out on top because Jesus is the best gift ever. When we are friends with Jesus, we know he’s always with us, he gives us peace and joy, and we can live forever with him in heaven one day. That’s a pretty great gift!
Have kids form groups of four. Distribute supplies to each group.
Hold up the vegetable oil and say: Let’s pretend this liquid represents Jesus. Pour it into a clear cup. Have one child in each group pour the vegetable oil into their large cup.
Ask: What do you think will happen if we pour another liquid into the cup?
Have another child in each group choose a second cup to pour into the large cup. The vegetable oil will rise to the top. (It may take a few seconds.)
Continue until everyone has poured one of the liquids in the cup. Regardless of the order you pour in, the liquids will end up in four distinct layers in this order (from top to bottom): vegetable oil, dish soap, milk, honey.
- What do you think will happen if we combine all of our cups?
Have groups each pour their liquids into the tall glass. Within a few seconds, the oil will create its own layer on top. (The other layers may combine a bit, but the oil will remain separate.)
Talk About It
- Why do you think vegetable oil always stayed on top?
- How can other people see that you think Jesus is the top gift?
Say: Sometimes people make Christmas wish lists, starting with the things they want the most. Those are probably really awesome gifts! But we’ve already gotten the best gift ever—Jesus! Any other gift will sink below him because he’s the best gift ever!
Low-Energy Game (10 min)
Keep or Toss?
- slips of paper
- large bowl or bag
Distribute two slips of paper to each child, along with a pencil. Say: On one of your papers, write the best gift you can imagine getting (besides Jesus). On the other paper, write the worst gift someone could get you.
As kids finish writing, have them fold their papers and place them in a bowl or bag.
Decide to Keep or Toss
Mix up the papers. Have kids take turns picking out two gifts at a time and reading them aloud. Kids can choose whether to keep both gifts or reject both gifts—but they have to do the same thing for both gifts. For example, if one gift is a million dollars but the other is a pet snake, a child who is afraid of snakes might decide to give up both gifts.
Have all the kids demonstrate what choice they’d make for the two gifts by walking to one side of the room for “keep” or the other side for “toss.”
Continue until all kids have had a chance to draw two gifts, announce their decision, and then let everyone else vote.
Talk About It
- How did you decide whether the good outweighed the bad if you had two very different gifts?
- Why didn’t everyone always agree about whether to keep or toss the gifts?
- What are some gifts that you get when you keep the gift of Jesus? Are there any negatives that come with accepting the gift of Jesus?
Say: Jesus is the best gift ever! When we receive the gift of Jesus, we also receive forgiveness, love, joy, peace, and eternal life! All of those gifts definitely go in the “keep” pile!
Deeper Bible (15 min)
Why Is Jesus the Best Gift Ever?
- “Choice Grid” handout (1 per child) (download here)
Play a Game
Say: Today we’re learning that Jesus is the best gift ever. But why is he the best gift ever? We can’t even see him or open up a present with Jesus inside. So what makes him so great? Let’s dig into that.
Tell kids about a gift you really liked.
- Tell about a gift you really liked.
- What made that gift so great?
Say: Let’s play a game and compare Jesus with some other gifts or Christmas items.
Distribute a “Choice Grid” handout to each child. Tell kids to hold up the hand they don’t write with. Have kids put their pointer finger from that hand on the Santa hat square of their handout.
Say: We’re going to play a game. Each time I say a number, you’ll move your finger one space. You can’t move diagonally. You’ll be crossing out squares later. Once a square is crossed out, you can’t move to that square at all.
Have kids move one space and then share why they would or wouldn’t want a Santa hat as a gift. Then have kids cross out the Santa hat. Remind them that they can’t move their finger onto the Santa hat anymore, now that it’s crossed out. Remind kids not to move diagonally.
For the rest of the grid, count to the number listed and then tell kids you know they’re not on the shape listed. Have them cross out that shape as they share reasons they would or wouldn’t want that Christmas item as a gift.
- 7 – snowman
- 3 – present
- 7 – stocking
- 5 – ornament
- 9 – tree
- 3 – candy cane
Have kids move one more space, and then tell kids you know they’re on the manger.
- Why do you want the gift of Jesus?
- Why do some people not want the gift of Jesus?
Say: This game shows us that everything about Christmas can point us to Jesus—the best gift ever. Let’s look at some Bible verses that will help us know why he’s such a great gift.
Say: Read your verse, and think about what it says about God’s gift of Jesus. Then get ready to tell other people.
After groups have discovered the gift in their verse, have kids form new groups with one representative from each of the six groups. Have kids share what they discovered about the gift of Jesus.
- Based on these verses, what’s so great about the gift of Jesus?
Say: When God gave us Jesus, he was giving us forgiveness. He was making us right with him. He was giving us righteousness, eternal life, and grace. And God’s gifts can never be taken away! That’s why Jesus is the best gift ever.
Craft (20 min)
God’s Gift Ornaments
- thin cardboard (you can use cereal boxes or poster board)
- wrapping paper (solid or with a simple pattern)
- “Nativity Silhouette” handout (1 per child) (download here)
Wrap a Gift
Have kids each cut out a square of cardboard, around 4×5 inches. Then have kids wrap their cardboard with wrapping paper. As they wrap, have kids discuss whether they wrap gifts that they give to others.
Then have kids each bend the bottom inch of their cardboard forward to make a shelf. Have kids write “Jesus is the best gift ever!” at the top of their cardboard.
Add a Nativity
Say: God sent Jesus to be the best gift ever. We’ll put Jesus’ nativity scene on our gifts as a reminder of Jesus, the best gift ever.
Have kids cut out the silhouette shapes on the handouts. To secure the shapes to their gift, they’ll poke toothpicks through the shelf, aligned with the two tallest parts of the silhouette. Then they’ll tape the silhouette to the toothpicks and cut off any excess toothpick length.
Make It an Ornament
Have kids each tape a loop of string to the back of their cardboard to make it into an ornament.
- What makes something a good gift?
- How well do those things describe Jesus?
Say: Our ornaments remind us that Jesus is the best gift ever! There might be a lot of awesome gifts you want this Christmas, but there’s only one gift that’s the best, and that’s Jesus! Encourage kids to put their ornaments on their family’s Christmas tree and talk to their families about why Jesus is such a great gift.
Life Application Wrap-Up (5 min)
The Best Gift
- 5×5-inch squares of wrapping paper
- Christmas tree (optional)
Write Thank-You Notes
Say: Today we learned that Jesus is the best gift we could ever get.
Give each child a square of wrapping paper.
- What are some ways you’ve reacted when you’ve gotten a great gift?
Share your own answer before kids respond.
Say: Let’s take some time to say thank you for the gift of Jesus.
Have kids each write thank-you notes inside their wrapping paper and then fold them and tape them like a gift.
Say: Jesus is the best gift ever! And the best gift we can give back to God is our thanks as we receive his gift.
Have kids place their thank-you gifts under the tree (if you have one) or just in a pile.
Pray: Thank you, God, for the best gift ever—Jesus.
Say: I’m so glad you came today! This week, remember that Jesus is the best gift ever, and take some time to thank God for Jesus.
Take-Home (0 min)
Dig In @ Home
- This week’s “Dig In @ Home” handout (1 per child) (download here)
Add your church announcements to the “Dig In @ Home” handout.
Distribute a copy of the “Dig In @ Home” handout to kids as they leave, or email it to parents during the week.
The Life of Jesus, Sunday School Lesson for Christmas, Design and base content Copyright © Group Publishing, Inc. Licensed for use with 1-20 students. Permission to reproduce granted for local church use only.