Christmas Sunday School Lesson: Prophets Fortell Jesus’ Coming
This Lesson at A Glance
|Lesson||What Children Do||Supplies||Easy Prep|
|Getting Started||I Promise(about 15 min.)|
Play a fun game about making promises.
|a supply of uninflated balloons|
|Bible Exploration||God Speaks to Jeremiah (about 20 min.)|
Discover the meaning of Jeremiah’s amazing prophecy.
|Bibles, paper, markers, pens, scissors (several pairs)|
|The Promise Fulfilled (about 10 min.)|
Explore the Key Verse to find out that Jesus fulfilled God’s promise to send a Messiah, and that he promised to be with them.
|Keeping Promises (about 15 min.)|
Determine how keeping and not keeping promises affects them, and make promise cards to give to someone.
|Bibles, construction paper, markers|
|Lasting Impressions||Daily Challenges (about 5 min.)|
Choose a Daily Challenge to apply God’s Word.
|Weaving Faith at Home (about 2 min.) |
Talk about how to share what they learned with their families.
|promise cards made in the “Keeping Promises” activity|
|Bold text within the lesson is spoken text.|
This passage was written nearly 600 years before Jesus was born. The northern kingdom of Israel had fallen to the Assyrians, who had in turn fallen to the Babylonians. Jeremiah also saw the fall of the southern kingdom of Judah to the Babylonians, concluding with the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C.
Despite all that was going on around him, Jeremiah’s message in this passage is one of hope. Repeating nearly word for word the message he had given in Jeremiah 23:5-6, Jeremiah utters here his most important message about the coming Messiah. This King would be a descendant of David but would rule with more wisdom, justice, and righteousness than any other king had ever done. This coming Messiah would not only rescue his people from their oppressors but also reunite the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, which had been divided since the death of Solomon more than 300 years earlier.
Jesus Fulfills Prophecy, but Not as Expected
After reading this passage, it’s easy to understand why people of Jesus’ day expected a Messiah who would lead them in throwing off Roman rule and restoring the unified kingdom of Israel. From our standpoint in history, we know that Jesus came first as the suffering servant (see Isaiah 53), drawing people to himself through his perfect life and his message of repentance. One day, however, Jesus will return to complete his fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies and rule as king over all heaven and earth.
As we look forward to our celebration of Jesus’ birth, we can also look forward to the day Jesus will return to take those who believe in him to live with him in heaven. That’s God’s message of hope for Christians in today’s broken world!
The Jesus Connection
Your relationship with Jesus is an amazing gift. And God planned long ago to give you that gift. Thank him for this life-giving blessing!
Long ago, God chose to prepare the hearts of his people with the news that a Savior would come. As you prepare for Christmas, take some time to allow God’s message of hope and salvation to sink in for you. Choose to believe God’s promises—and allow the wonder of Jesus’ incarnation to overwhelm you. Pray about your heart’s desire to live this Christmas season immersed in the meaning of God’s promises.
Getting Started: I Promise
Welcome kids warmly as they arrive, and ask them how their week went. Have kids stand on one side of the room, and have them form two groups.
Say: We’re going to start today by playing a game about promises. Put the balloons in the middle of a table, and have groups stand on opposite sides of the table.
Say: Each group will be given five minutes to blow up as many balloons as it can. But each group has to tell the other group ahead of time how many balloons it promises to blow up in five minutes. And the balloons have to be fully blown up; you can’t just blow them up partway! The group that comes closest to fulfilling its promise will be able to spend five minutes telling the other group what to do. If you fail to keep your promise, you’ll have to follow the directions of the winning group for five minutes. Go ahead and talk with the rest of your group, and decide how many balloons you think your group can blow up. You want to blow up more balloons than the other group!
Give kids a few moments to make their predictions. Then say: Okay! Are groups ready? Blow up your balloons! Have the groups try to blow up the number of balloons they’ve promised to blow up.
After five minutes, have kids stop and count the balloons.
Allow a minute for the group of kids who won to decide the kinds of things they’re going to make the other kids do. Make sure they’re within reason. For example, it’s fine if they have the other kids do jumping jacks or make silly faces, but it’s not okay for them to ask the other group to lick the floor of your meeting room.
Supervise as the winning team bosses the losing team around. Then gather kids together.
Lead kids in this discussion.
- Tell what it was like to make a promise you weren’t sure you could fulfill.
- How does that compare to making real promises?
- Explain whether it’s important to you to fulfill promises.
- What’s it like for you when someone doesn’t keep his or her promise to you?
Say: When people don’t fulfill their promises to us, it makes it hard for us to trust those people. But God made a very special promise to us, which he was very faithful to fulfill. Today we’ll learn what that promise was and discover that Jesus fulfilled God’s promise.
Bible Exploration: God Speaks to Jeremiah
Say: Jeremiah was a prophet, which meant he received messages that God gave him and passed them on to God’s people. One day God gave Jeremiah an important message about something special that was going to happen. Jeremiah told God’s message to the people of Israel. Let’s find out what Jeremiah said.
Make sure kids have Bibles, and ask them to turn to Jeremiah 33:14-16. Ask for a willing preteen to read the verses aloud.
Say: The message, or prophecy, referred to the promise God made to Jerusalem that he would send a Messiah. The one thing the promise didn’t include was a timeline. God’s people had to wait for an unknown length of time. And it took more than 500 years before the promise was fulfilled. Let’s get a better idea of what 500 years looks like.
Distribute paper, pens, markers, and scissors. Ask kids to draw on the left side what they imagine this spot looked like 500 years ago. For reference, remind them that Christopher Columbus landed in America in 1492, and Jamestown, Virginia, was settled in 1607. Then have them draw on the right side what they imagine it’ll look like 500 years from now. In the middle of the page is a square; have them cut out three sides to create a flap they can open to look through their page and see what this place looks like today.
Say: It’s hard for us to remember details of things we know happened 500 years ago, much less predict what will happen 500 years from now. But it wasn’t hard for Jeremiah, because God told him what was going to happen in the future. Jeremiah told people that the Messiah, Jesus, was coming. And more than 500 years later, Jesus fulfilled God’s promise.
Have kids form groups of two or three. Say: In your group, try to think of a promise you could make that might still be worthwhile in 500 years. Allow a few minutes, and then have kids share their ideas with the whole group. Have kids vote on whether they think each idea will work.
Lead kids in this discussion.
- What’s the main difference you notice between the promises you tried to make and the promise God kept?
- In what ways does this promise help you trust God more in your own life?
- In what ways can you show God you trust him?
Say: Jesus fulfilled God’s promise. God is so much greater than we are, and his promises show that. Seeing and understanding how God keeps his promises can help us trust him with things we don’t understand in our lives. Let’s take a look at our Key Verse to find out more.
The Promise Fulfilled
Make sure each child has a Bible. Say: Our Key Verse today is Matthew 1:22-23.
Have kids find the verse in their Bibles, and ask a willing child to read it aloud: “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’—which means, ‘God with us.’ ”
Say: God promised to send a Messiah to save us, and Jesus fulfilled God’s promise when he came to earth. Our Bible passage tells us what God promised, and our Key Verse tells what happened more than 500 years later. The best part is that God also included a promise even as he was fulfilling the first promise. He promised to be with us.
Have kids close their eyes. Say: Without opening your eyes, line up in order by height. You can talk, but you can’t open your eyes. Allow kids a few minutes to try lining up according to their height.
Before kids finish lining up correctly, say: That seemed pretty difficult. Let’s find a way to make this easier. Choose two kids to open their eyes and help the other kids get lined up in the right order. Have these kids promise the rest of the group that they’ll help them and accomplish this task together. These kids can direct the other kids based on what they see. Allow time for them to finish lining the group up.
Lead kids in this discussion.
- What difference did it make to have someone who could see help you line up correctly?
- Explain one way having God in your life is like having people who could see in our game.
- In what way was trusting the people who could see like trusting God’s promises?
Say: God loves you. He loves everyone. That’s why God sent Jesus—because he loves us. God knew that it was only through Jesus that he could be with us. When God makes promises, he’ll do incredible things to fulfill those promises. Jesus fulfilled God’s promise.
Weaving Faith Into Life: Keeping Promises
Say: Let’s take a look at our Key Verse, Matthew 1:22-23, again. Have kids again turn in their Bibles to Matthew 1:22-23, and read the verse aloud while the kids follow along: “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’—which means, ‘God with us’ ” (Matthew 1:22-23).
Say: Let’s reflect on the things we’ve learned about making and keeping promises. Form circles with no more than six kids per circle. Allow time.
Think about a time you made a promise to someone and kept it. Pause. Invite willing kids to share their reflections on keeping that promise. When anyone who wants to share has done so, have kids all take a step toward the center of their circles.
Say: Think about a time someone made a promise to you and kept that promise. Pause. Invite willing kids to share their reflections on others keeping their promises. When anyone who wants to share has done so, have kids all take another step toward the center of their circles.
Say: When we’re all honest and keep our promises to one another, we feel closer to our friends and family. We know we can trust them to do what they say and not disappoint us, and they know the same about us. That’s how God wants us to trust him. God wants us to read the Bible and see all the ways he’s kept his promises to us. Jesus fulfilled God’s promise. Let’s make promise cards today.
Give kids each a sheet of construction paper, and have them fold the paper in half to make a card. Have markers available for kids to use.
Say: God promised to be with you. Think of a promise you can make to someone that will help that person see God is with him or her. This promise could be for a family member, or it could be for a friend. After you’ve thought of someone, write “Dear” and the person’s name on the inside of your card. Then write your promise to that person.
For example, you could promise your mom that you will help her with the dishes every night next week. Or you could promise your friend that you will ask your parents if he or she can spend the night with you next weekend. It could be any meaningful promise you want to make and keep.
Give kids time to write their cards, and then have them decorate the fronts of the cards.
Say: Take these cards with you, and pray about how you want to give them to the people you wrote them to. Then take the action steps needed to make these promises turn into reality.
Lead kids in this discussion.
- What’s it like to know you’ve made a promise and that someone is waiting for you to follow through?
- What difference does it make whether you keep the promises you make?
- What difference does it make to you to know that God has always kept every promise he’s made?
Say: God keeps promises better than anyone else ever has or ever will. We can trust God completely. He never lies, and he’s always with us. Whether anyone else keeps the promises they make to you, you can remember how Jesus fulfilled God’s promise. God loves you, he made you, and he’ll always keep the promises he makes.
Lasting Impressions: Daily Challenges
Say: Let’s consider this week that Jesus fulfilled God’s promise as we do our Daily Challenges.
Have kids choose a Daily Challenge to do this week. They can choose one or more of these three options:
- Get some paper and writing supplies. Pray about the way you honor your promises. As you pray, creatively express your promise-keeping through creative writing. When you’re done, pray and ask God to help you keep your promises.
- Draw small pictures to depict the different ways God has kept promises to you or other people you know. Combine those drawings into a collage so you can stand back and admire the promises God’s kept. Hang your collage in a prominent place in your room, and remember to thank God for keeping his promises when you see it.
- Put your promise card in a place you won’t forget it. When you get home, talk to someone in your family about it. Give your card to the person you wrote it to, and ask God to help you as you follow through on this promise.
Make sure you choose a Daily Challenge as well, and tell the kids what you chose. Kids will be more inclined to follow through on their commitments when they see you doing the same.
Lead kids in this discussion.
- What’s a practical way you’re going to do your Daily Challenge? Include a time, a place, and other ideas.
Say: God promised that Jesus would come to save everyone, and Jesus fulfilled God’s promise. Let’s trust God’s promises and be trustworthy in our promises by following through on our Daily Challenges this week.
Weaving Faith at Home
Encourage kids to talk with their parents about what they learned.
Ask kids to bring their promise cards to a quiet area in the room. Encourage kids to pray about the promises they wrote down. Then close by praying: Dear God, thank you that we can trust you to always keep your promises. Thank you for sending Jesus to keep the greatest promise of all. Help us keep our promises, too. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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