We have been having so much fun with our Inductive Study of the Gospel of John. All the kids want to gather round our chalkboard table to participate lately! It makes this Mama’s heart happy to see my kids developing a love for the Scriptures.
This week we moved on in chapter 1 to verses, 14-18. These are truly difficult verses to unpack with little ones. We did our best to work through the verses together using the Inductive method.
Let’s get going!
We started our first lesson of the week with review. We always start with review – always. It cements knowledge like nothing else. By the time we are done with chapter one, the kids will be able to tell me in general terms what each section of chapter one is about. Isn’t that a blessing?! After we walked through the chapter thus far, I read the entire passage for the week (verses 14-18). I asked the kids what words jumped out at them. And I let them know these were the topics we would be covering this week.
Focusing in on verse 14
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Here’s our conversation about this verse:
Who is the Word? (Jesus!)
What did he become? (flesh)
What is flesh? (skin and bones) So He was an actual man, right? (Yes!) Can you draw a man, please?
What did he do in his skin and bones? (He dwelt among us) I wrote this on the board next to the picture of the man.
Ok, so now we need to draw a whole bunch of men and women and children around him, right? (lots of drawing of people, most without faces, without eyes)
As I am looking at these people among whom Jesus dwelt, I am noticing something about them that is missing. Our verse will help us to figure out what we need to add to these people. Let’s read it one more time: (‘and we SAW His glory’) What do people need to see? (Eyes!) Let’s make sure they all have eyes to see. (adding eyes to all the people without eyes)
What did they see? (His glory)
A Brief Word study
What is glory? (thinking, pondering) The Bible tells us that Jesus has glory and that God has glory. What is it? (thinking, pondering) The Bible also tells us that we should give glory to God. What is glory? (thinking, pondering)
Here the kids had a hard time figuring out the words they wanted to say to define glory. And honestly, it is because glory is a difficult word to define! Here’s what I told the kids:
Glory means weight. Every object in the universe has a weight, whether big or small. You have a specific weight, right? All the parts in your body and all the things that make you you make up your weight. Well, God, who is Spirit and does not have a body like men has a weight, too. All the things that make Him Him have a weight. His weight is referred to as glory. So if you are thinking about the glory of God, you are thinking about the things that make Him Him. (I wrote GLORY on the table)
We returned to our table to talk about the rest of the verse.
So what did the people see with their eyes when Jesus dwelt among them? (GLORY!)
How does John describe this glory? Let’s read the next clause. (glory as of the only begotten from the Father)
It is glory that only one person – the Son of God – has. Who is God’s Son? (Jesus!) And what does he have that the people saw? (glory!)
Alright, tomorrow we will read more about this verse!
Today I did something that is unorthodox for me. I used a video during our Bible study time. As I was preparing for the morning lesson, I got a little nervous about presenting the idea of grace to the kids. I have always known the definition as “unmerited favor.” But I was afraid the kids would be overwhelmed by needing further information for the definition. Thankfully, I found a super short video that speaks to the definition of grace, unpacking the meaning of “unmerited favor.” This resource also has a good extended article on grace. And the video is a kind of treat, since I rarely use video in our school or Bible times.
Alright onto our conversations:
We started, as always with review. We talked about what the people saw when they saw Jesus, the true Light, the Word made flesh. They saw his GLORY! The thing that made Him Him. I added in the word attributes as I discussed this – the character qualities of God. When the people saw Jesus they saw a unique glory, a glory only He has.
I wrote GLORY at the top of our chalkboard table. And we read the verse again. Then I drew two cups on the table, one half-way full and one full. I asked:
Which one of these is full? (pointed to the correct one)
What does it mean to be full? (to be all the way at the top)
What was Jesus, the Word become flesh full of, according to the verse? There are two attributes described here. (grace and truth)
I wrote on the board
Let’s talk about these two attributes of Jesus. Let’s start with truth. What is truth? (it is when I tell you the things I have lied about – this was the serious answer from one of my kids)
Well, let’s narrow that down and say that truth is what is correct, what is accurate, what is real. God’s Word is truth. (I wrote these words on the table)
And now let’s talk about grace. What is grace? (my kid whose name is Grace said, “something you get when you shouldn’t have” – I was blown away because we have talked about this a lot, but it never seemed to be sinking in)
Some people say the definition of grace is “unmerited favor.” Have you ever heard the word merit (full disclosure: our youngest is named Merritt)? (YES!) What does merit mean? We are going to watch a short video that talks about grace, “unmerited favor.”
Here’s the video we watched.
Once we were done watching the video, we reviewed what we have learned in this verse. At this point it is just basically saying the verse again, because we have already worked through the meaning of all of it.
Today we finally reached verse 15! We started by reviewing who John is. There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John. John came as a witness to testify about the Light. We remembered that this John is NOT the author of this book and He is NOT the Light. I wrote John at the top of the chalkboard table and started drawing a stick-figure man. Then we read our verse:
John bore witness of Him, and cried out, saying “This was He of whom I said, ‘ He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.'”
We did a quick review of what a witness is. We pointed to our ears, our eyes and our heads to say, “A witness is someone who tells what they heard, what they saw, and what they know about something.”
Here’s our conversation about the verse:
Who is John bearing witness about? (Jesus!)
And what is He saying? (This was He of whom I said, ‘ He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.‘”)
So, if John is talking about something that comes after him, where will it go on our table? (on the right side) I wrote He a little bit above John and on the right side of the table. I made John’s hand look like an arrow pointing at “He.” And I wrote after underneath – sort of like a timeline.
What does John say about “He” next? (He has a higher rank than I because He existed before me.)
If John says that “He” came before him, where do I put him on our table? (on the left side) I wrote He a little bit above John and on the left side of the table. I made John’s hand look like an arrow pointing at “He.” I added before underneath.
How is it that John says Jesus comes after him and before Him? (Jesus was in the beginning with God, He was before all people) I added creation to the “timeline.”
Do you remember when we talked about the Christmas story? And do you remember Elizabeth, who was going to have a baby? Do you remember Elizabeth’s baby’s name? (John!) This is that John! He was born a few months before Jesus and He was testifying about Jesus before He came.
Now let’s talk about what John said about “He.” What did John say about, “He?” (He has a higher rank than I.)
What is a “rank?” (it is a score, like in a game, it is high)
Yes, and it also says how important something is. If something or someone has a high rank, it is very important. John says that Jesus is more important than he is.
Have you ever heard of a V.I.P.? A V.I.P. is a very important person. When a person has a party and creates a guest list, they put their V.I.P.s on their list. John’s V.I.P. list had one person on it. Who is it? (Jesus!)
Who would be on your V.I.P. list?
At this point, we were finished with our lesson, but my girls were very excited about their V.I.P.s. So, I let them go make their V.I.P. lists. It was a fun extension activity to go along with the verse.
Today’s verse turned out to be largely review. I love a good review, so I have no complaints here. Verse 16:
For of His fulness we have all received and grace upon grace.
We started by talking about John the author of the book versus John, the witness we have been talking about. I wanted to make sure the kids had their Johns straight. Then we jumped into the verse. I asked one of my students to read the verse. After she read it, I started our conversation:
Do you remember when I drew a cup on the table? And do you remember there was one that was full? (Yes.)
How did you know it was full? (It was all the way at the top.)
Who did this cup represent? (Jesus)
And what was Jesus full of? (grace and truth) What is grace? (unmerited favor) And what is truth? (the right thing)
Do you remember the groups of people who had responses to Jesus? There was one group that did NOT receive him and there was a group that DID receive Him. (Yes.) And what did the people who DO receive Jesus get when they receive Him – what is their right? (to be children of God)
This verse is telling us something about all the things we have already learned. It is telling us something about God’s gift to us (I drew a gift at the bottom of the table). When we receive His gift of Jesus, He just keeps on giving us more things!
An Object Lesson
Pretend it is your birthday and I have given you a gift. You open it up and inside is another gift. And inside that gift is another gift. You open that gift and inside is another gift. This is kind of what John, the author, is telling us about Jesus. When we receive Him, we get to be children of God. AND We get his fulness, which is full of grace and truth.
When you watch a commercial on TV, have you noticed that they will often say, “But wait, there’s more!?” They will offer the product and at the end, they will say, “When you buy one, you will get another one free – just pay shipping and handling!” John, the author is sort of saying something like that.
Add to the fact that we are children of God, God gives us Jesus in His fulness, which is full of grace and truth. And the verse goes on. Let’s read it. (“and grace upon grace”)
On top of being a child of God, getting Jesus, full of grace and truth, God adds to that more grace and more grace! Isn’t that wonderful?!?!
But we need to remember one thing about this grace. Remember that we get this grace even when we don’t deserve it, even when it is not our birthday. We get grace from God even though we mess up and we don’t always do what is right. He STILL gives us grace! Why? (because we are His children!)
We tacked on verse 17 at the end of the day, focusing on “grace and truth were realized through Jesus.” We simply reiterated the fact that we understand grace and truth because Jesus came.
We started our day with review of the previous verses. I focused on Jesus (who is He? and what was He full of?). My heart warms to see my little guy (only 3 years old) participating and answering the questions alongside his older sisters. Today he had the right answer that Jesus is full of truth. We touched on verse 17 again talking about this grace and truth being realized when Jesus came to earth. That we understand these things because of Him. Then we moved into verse 18:
No man has seen God at any time, the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.
Can you See God?
I read the verse and then I challenged the kids: Can you see God right now? Look around and tell me. (some pretending to look around to no avail)
We cannot see God. God is spirit and does not have a body, like men. (We have learned that in our catechism and we have a song that goes with this – so the kids and I sang it together.) That is what John, the author is telling us here – No one has seen God ever! (I drew an eye on the board and marked a line through it and wrote the word God).
What is Begotten?
We have seen this word begotten before, haven’t we? (Yes!) Let’s look at the places where we already saw this word and write down what we learn when we look at that word, “begotten.” (we read verse 14 and this verse and I wrote the only begotten, from the Father, and God)
What does only mean? (one) (I wrote the word one and a 1 on the table) So there is only one of this begotten one.
Who is the only begotten? (Jesus!)
But what does begotten mean? Let’s look at the word begotten. Do you see any smaller words in that word? (be and got and ten)
What does “got” mean? What does it mean when you say you got something? (it was a gift or it was given) Great so we could say “beGIVEN,” couldn’t we? (Yes!)
Who gave Jesus? (the Father!)
Yes. We have gotten most of the definition of begotten. But there is another part of it.
How did God give Jesus? How did he get here to earth? And what about you? How did you get here? Did you just, poof, appear? Where were you before you were in this world? (this took a little bit of time to talk around, but we were getting there and the kids finally rested on Jesus being BORN)
Jesus was begotten – He was born of the Father! He is God’s Son. He is the only beGIVEN Son of God, given by the Father.
Let’s read our verse again. What does it say about Jesus and begotten? (He is the only begotten God)
Do you remember all the way back at the beginning of John when it said, In the beginning was the Word…? (and the Word was with God, and the Word was God!) Jesus IS God! He is the only beGIVEN, born God.
What is a bosom?
When you were babies I used to hold you really close to me, in my bosom. (I demonstrated to each of my children what this meant by hugging them close to me)
When you were a baby and I held you in my bosom, what part of my body was I holding you close to? What is inside my chest? (your heart!)
That’s right! Our verse is showing that Jesus is in the bosom of the Father. He is right in the very heart of God. (I drew a heart on the table next to the word God)
One last thing.
Let’s find out what the last part of the verse tells us.
He has explained Him.
Who explained God to men? (Jesus) How did He know about God? (He was with God in the beginning and He IS God)
What does it mean to explain something? (to tell about it)
So we couldn’t see Him, and others told us about him (like Moses, who gave the Law – the Old Testament), but we didn’t get to understand Him until Jesus.
Our week was filled with so much GOOD stuff! At the end of the day, we made sure to thank God for giving Jesus to explain Him.
A Word for You about our Study
I hope you are enjoying our inductive study through the Gospel of John. As I have said before, these conversations I have with my kids are simple. They are not intended as an exhaustive study of the book. Neither are they meant to be the only way to present this material. But I humbly offer them to you to give you ideas of how you can share the Word of God with your kids. I pray our study is a blessing to you in some small way.