This week marks a turning point in the Gospel of John. It is the point where we turn our focus from John (the Baptist) to Jesus (the Light, the Lamb, the Son). It is getting exciting to see just how much our students have learned in the first part of the first chapter of John.
Annnddd….we are finished with chapter 1!! I mean, who would have thought it could take this long to go through ONE chapter? It feels like such an accomplishment to have made it this far. We should be able to pick up the pace a bit for a little while.
As we began our study today, I told my students we were at a turning point. We were going to turn from talking about John and start talking about Jesus. By way of review, I requested one student to instruct me how to draw John (as we have already drawn him). Once we had him drawn we briefly discussed why we draw him this way.
And then we started reading our passage. Verses 35-36:
Again the next day John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!”
Here’s our conversation:
How many of John’s disciples were standing with him? (two)
Let’s draw them standing with John. (We drew the disciples and wrote the name Jesus with the moniker Lamb of God underneath)
What does John say about Jesus this time? (Behold, the Lamb of God!) Do you remember what behold means? (Look!)
Yes! So, John is pointing out Jesus to these two. Let’s see what they did when they saw Jesus. Verse 37:
The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.
What does it mean to follow? (to go after someone)
Yes! Have you ever played “Follow the Leader?” When you play that game the person in the front is the Leader and all the people after him/her does everything that he/she does. If the Leader jumps, the followers jump. If the Leader puts one hand in the air, the followers put one hand in the air.
We played a rousing round of “Follow the Leader.”
Alright! Now John’s disciples are not following John anymore, they are now following Jesus – He is the Leader. Let’s see what happens next, verse 38:
And Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What do you seek?” They said to Him, “Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are you staying?”
This is a strange conversation indeed! What did Jesus ask his new followers? (What do you seek?) And what was their response? (Where are you staying?) Is that really an answer to Jesus’s question? (No.) Let’s see how Jesus responds to them. Verse 39:
He said to them, “Come, and you will see.” So they came and saw where He was staying; and they stayed with Him that day, for it was about the tenth hour.
We wrote these questions on the table, followed by Jesus’s response. And we continued on. Verse 40:
One of the two who heard John speak and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He found first his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which translated means Christ).
Now we have a name for one of the two men who were originally following John. What is it? (Andrew) Which one of these guys do we want to be Andrew? (they chose and I labeled one man “Andrew”)
What did Andrew do? (he went to go get his brother) Who is his brother? (Simon Peter) (I drew another man, labeled him Simon Peter and drew an arrow from Andrew to Simon Peter.)
What did Andrew say to his brother Simon Peter? (We have found the Messiah!) We know who the Messiah is, don’t we? (Yes!) Who is the Messiah (Jesus!) But the people back in this time didn’t know Jesus was the Messiah – the promised One.
How does Simon Peter respond to Andrew’s news? Let’s read on, verse 42:
He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).
How did Simon Peter respond to Andrew’s news? (He went with him to Jesus) What did Jesus say? (you are Simon, you shall be called Cephas/Peter) He changed his name!! So that is why he was called Simon Peter before!
Tomorrow we will see some more men who decide to follow Jesus. How many men are following Jesus right now? (three) What are their names (Andrew, Simon Peter, and another man) Who do you think that man is? (guesses)
Can one of you tell me the story of these three men starting to follow Jesus?
Day Two – More Follow Jesus
As always, we began our Bible study time with review. Today, I asked the kids who we used to draw in the middle of our table. (John!) And I reminded them that we had shifted our focus and we had a new person in the middle of our table – who is He? (Jesus!) I asked one of the students to tell me how to spell Jesus as I wrote it on the table. We also talked about the three men who were following Jesus in our story yesterday (Andrew, another man, and Simon Peter). Then we turned to our verses, 43-44 :
The next day He purposed to go into Galilee, and He found Philip. And Jesus said to him, “Follow Me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, of the city of Andrew and Peter.
Here’s our conversation:
We need to add another man to our followers, right? (Yes) (I drew another man) What is his name? (Philip) (I added his name)
What did Jesus say to Philip? (Follow me.) Did Philip obey Him? (Yes!) He was obedient to Jesus the very first time He told him to do something! What does it mean to follow Jesus (to go with Him and do what He does) Yes, like our game of Follow the Leader!
Let’s look at the next verses to see what Philip does. Verses 45:
Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
Do we have another man to draw? (Yes) What is his name? (Nathanael) (I drew the man and gave him his name)
Now Philip gives testimony to Nathanael about Jesus. What does he say about Him? (We have found Him!) Who did he say wrote about Jesus? (Moses and the prophets) So, he is talking about the Old Testament, which promised One who would come to save them.
So, he told about what had been said of the One who was to come, but he says a couple more things about him. Jesus was a common name back in Bible times. To make sure Nathanael knew who he was talking about, Philip gives two identifiers of which Jesus he was talking about. What are those two things? (of Nazareth, son of Joseph) Nazareth was the town Jesus was from and Joseph was his earthly father.
Philip is identifying which Jesus he was talking about. How would we identify which one of you we are talking about? (she is _____ of _____, daughter of _______)
Now that Nathanael knew this good news of finding the one Moses and the prophets wrote about, what is his response? Verse 46:
Nathanael said to him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
Is this what you thought Nathanael would say? (No!) He is assuming that the promised One would come from a different place. Maybe a more important place is what he was thinking. And he just comes right out and says it. How does Philip respond? What does he tell Nathanael? (Come and see.) Let’s look at what happens when Nathanael goes to see, verse 47:
Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!”
What did Jesus say about Nathanael? (an Israelite in whom there is no deceit) What is deceit? (not telling the truth, hiding the full truth) Why did Jesus say this about him? Let’s look, verse 48:
Nathanael said to Him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”
Nathanael knew what he had said to Philip when Philip told him about Jesus. But how did Jesus know what he said? And how did Jesus know where Nathanael was when Philip called Him? (He saw him!)
Yes, but Nathanael was not directly in front of Jesus at this point. How did Jesus see someone who was far away? (He can see everything!)
Yes! He has a power that only God has – he sees everything! He has God-power! What did he see? (He saw Nathanael sitting under a fig tree) (I drew the fig tree over Nathanael)
What does Nathanael think of this Jesus who has God-power? Let’s look at what happens next. Verse 49:
Nathanael answered Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.”
Nathanael calls Jesus three things in this verse; what are the names? (Rabbi, Son of God, King of Israel) (I wrote each of these on the table) What does Rabbi mean? (Teacher)
Do you think we could add these names to the song we sang last week? (Yes!)
This is our addition to last weeks verse (we settled on Messiah, because we talked about Jesus being the Messiah, the promised one, the King of Israel):
John said Jesus was the Rabbi,
John said Jesus was the King of Israel
John said Jesus was the Messiah
Let Him shine, let Him shine, let Him shine!
Day Three – Greater Things
Today we began our day by reviewing who is at the center of our table (Jesus) and what Nathanael said about Jesus (Rabbi, King of Israel, the son of God). We also talked about what God-power Jesus demonstrated to Nathanael (He saw him from miles away). As we did this we made a list about Jesus and drew a “fig tree” on our chalkboard table. Then we read our first verse for today, verse 50:
Jesus answered and said to him, “Because I said to you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You will see greater things than these.”
Nathanael knew that Jesus seeing him under the fig tree was a big deal, it was a God-power only God can have. So he immediately recognized Jesus is the Son of God. What does Jesus promise Nathanael here? (he will see greater things than these) God can do more than just see people far away, can’t He? (Yes) Let’s see what Jesus says next, verse 51:
And He said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
WOW! We already read about a man who saw the heavens open up. Do you remember who saw that? (JOHN!) Yes, and do you remember what happened that time? (a dove came out of heaven and rested on Jesus and a voice said, “This is my Son in whom I am pleased.”) YES!!
Now Jesus says something different is going to happen when the heavens open up and Nathanael sees something. What did he say? You tell me and I will do my best to draw it on the table. (the heavens open and angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man)
Based on what you know about the first time something came down out of the opened up heavens, who is the Son of Man? (JESUS!!) YES!!
Except the angels are doing something different than the dove. The dove came and rested on Jesus, right? (Yes!) But what does it mean to ascend and descend? (to go up and down)
What a wonderful sight! Is it a bigger God-power than being able to see someone from far away? (Yes!)
Day Four – The Other Gospel Accounts
Note: I will not always consult the other gospel accounts of the events we study in John, but this is one of the major events all the gospels cover. It is great for teaching our kids not only how to use cross-references, but also that the Bible is part of one BIG story.
Today we started our Bible time by talking about the gospels. What are the gospels? (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) And what do they all tell about? (Jesus) Now John’s gospel has told us this week that Jesus had some men following him, who are they? (Andrew, another man, Simon Peter, Philip, and Nathanael) How many does that make? (five)
Today we looked at the cross-references for the first disciples. They are: Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20, and Luke 5:1-11. As we read, we made a list of the men mentioned in the accounts and noted the things that were similar. I also couldn’t resist some geography review as we drew a crude map of the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan River, and the Dead Sea.
When we were done with our list, we talked about the things that were the same. We also noted the differences. The students were also trying to decide who they thought the unknown man from the first day is. They have settled on him being one of the sons of Zebedee. I like that they are thinking about this!
We finished our week of Bible time by singing our “John said Jesus was” song. And because I couldn’t get it out of my head, I introduced the kids to “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus.” The girls have also been enjoying listening to one of their favorite songs, “I’m Following Jesus!” It is so good to go through our days with a song of love for the Lord in our hearts.
A Word of Conclusion
These simple teaching moments are building a lasting foundation for our kids! It has been such a joy to see my kids learning the story of Jesus such that they can share it with others. The practice of making lists, asking questions of the text and searching other Scripture is so fundamental to Bible study!