Inductive Study for Kids, John Chapter 3, part 1 (verses 1-13)


And we’re back! During this Summer Term I am determined to make some headway in our Inductive Study for Kids of the Gospel of John. I get the most requests for more of this series than any other requests.

If you have been following along and reached Chapter 3 and searched for more, this is it!

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Before we get into our Inductive Study for Kids of the Gospel of John, I want to draw your attention to two resources I created during this past school year which you may enjoy:

  • Getting Started with Inductive Study for Kids – I wrote a short primer for getting started with Inductive Study. It covers the absolute basics of Inductive study with teaching kids in mind. If you are new to this series and looking for more of the how-to for inductive study, not just what we did, this resource is for you.
  • The Story of the Birth of Jesus – an Inductive Study for Kids – I finally sat down and created an inductive study for kids for Christmas time! This is a 12 day Bible study you can do with your kids for Advent.

Oh, and I wrote a book, too! It is not for kids, but it will definitely help YOU in your personal inductive Bible study efforts. You can get a free chapter of the book and see purchase options for the book here.

Inductive Study of John Review

Because it has been so long since we have studied the book of John together as a family, I made sure to spend some serious time in review. I was pleasantly surprised at just how much my kids learned and remembered through our time around our chalkboard table.

We talked about

  • Jesus being called the Word, who was God.
  • How He became flesh and dwelt among us
  • We beheld His glory as of the begotten
  • A Man sent from God, whose name was John, came to bear witness of the Light – Jesus
  • what a witness does
  • Jesus called his disciples
  • Author John is different from John the Baptist
  • Jesus did signs and miracles to show He was God – the water to wine
  • He cleansed the temple because they were not viewing it as holy

All these things, my kids told me! I was blown away and excited to keep going.

John, Chapter 3

Since most of John 3 is a conversation, it may be good to get into the context of the passage by reading through at least verse 3 with your kids. As we read, we made a list of what we learn about Nicodemus

Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; this man came to Him by night, and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, Truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

John 3:1-3

Day One

What do we learn about this man, Nicodemus? Let’s make a list. (he was a Pharisee, a ruler of the Jews)

When did Nicodemus come to see Jesus? (at night) – I drew a moon and stars over the scene.

What did Nicodemus say to Jesus? (we know You come from God, because no one can do the signs You do.) How does Nicodemus know Jesus is from God? (the signs Jesus has been doing?) We have only seen one sign so far. What kinds of signs is Nicodemus talking about? (the water turned to wine) Is anyone else able to do these signs? (NO!) What does Nicodemus call Jesus? (Rabbi, teacher) Has Nicodemus asked Jesus a question? (no)

Nicodemus has not asked Jesus any questions, but Jesus responds to him with a very odd statement. What is it? (Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.) This doesn’t even seem to be related to what Nicodemus said to Jesus, does it? We went from the signs pointing to Jesus’ origin with God to the necessity to be born again in order to see the kingdom of God.

How does Nicodemus respond to this statement from Jesus?

Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He Cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?”

John 3;4

Babies and Birth

Note: the following story is related directly to my birth stories which I have shared with my kids. I shared with my kids that when a baby is ready to come out of a Mama’s tummy, God lets the parents know by the mama’s water breaking.

Everyone is born at some point. Each of you were in Mama’s tummy at some point. Do you remember what happened to let Mama know when it was time for Abram to be born (water gushed out of you!) Yes! Water gushed out of me and soon Abram was born!

Nicodemus knows this bit about water and babies being born, too. Did you notice we learn something else we can add to our list about Nicodemus from this verse? (he is old!) {I added old to our list about Nicodemus}

Why can’t babies go back into their Mamas’ tummies? (they are too big!) Nicodemus knows what we know about babies getting bigger. They cannot return to their mamas’ tummies when they are older. What kind of birth could Jesus be talking about here?

My older kids, who are grounded in the gospel message, were able to tell me that they know what Jesus is talking about! He is talking about being born again by believing. Praise God! This is what we are hoping for in our household – that our kids would come to know the things of God at an early age, that they would believe these things, and that they would live their lives in the light of the Truth.

Let’s read the next three verses:

Jesus answered, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, “You must be born again.”

John 3:5-7

Day 2 – The Laws of Nature

How does Jesus describe this second birth He is talking about? (born of the Spirit) What makes this birth different from the first birth? (water and flesh vs. spirit) Jesus does a little comparison here and a nature lesson, too. This is a nature lesson Nicodemus already knew, but there was something he still didn’t understand at the end of it.

Nature Lesson #1

What do Mama’s give birth to? (babies) What do mama elephants give birth to? (elephants) What do mama whales give birth to? (whales) Yes! {I asked each kid what their favorite animal gives birth to and wrote their responses on the board} Do you remember in Genesis 1 when God created the animals “after their kind?” The birds of the air, the fish of the sea, the creeping things of the earth and the land animals – they were all created “after their kind.”

Jesus is telling Nicodemus one of the laws of nature – animals are born after their own kind. And human beings are born after their own kind.

So Jesus is saying that this second birth will also follow the laws of Nature. A person born of the Spirit will have a spiritual birth. That Spiritual birth happens sometime after the person’s first birth – the one of water – and Jesus calls it being “born again.”

Nature Lesson #2

Jesus then turns Nicodemus’ attention to another nature lesson. What does He talk about in verse 8?

The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

John 3:8

(Wind!) What do we learn about wind from what Jesus says in verse 8? Let’s make a list. {the wind blows, can be heard, invisible, cannot be tracked} What is He comparing the wind to? Do you see that word “so?” It is a word of comparison here – a similie. Jesus is comparing the wind to the Spirit? How is the wind like the Spirit? {this is a hard one!} The people who are born again of the Spirit are not changed on the outside. The change is internal, invisible. But it is evident, just like the wind.

Note: It is ok to explain this to your kids instead of letting them answer. This is a hard concept! Even for adults!

After Jesus’ two nature lessons, does Nicodemus finally understand what Jesus meant when He said, “you must be born again?” Let’s read the next verse – verse 9.

Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?”

John 3:9

He still has some questions. If things that are born after their own kind and the second birth – the one of the Spirit is invisible, how can a man be born again? And how do we know we are born again?

We will look at what else Jesus tells Nicodemus about being born again, next time.

Day Three

Once we got back into the context of the chapter, we talked about Nicodemus’ question in verse 9 – “How can these things be?”

Let’s read verse 10 together to see what Jesus said,

Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not understand these things?”

verse 10

What does Jesus call Nicodemus? (teacher) Do you remember what Nicodemus called Jesus? (Rabbi, teacher) What is Israel? (a place, a name, a group of people) And which is it here? (a people) Yes! Israel is God’s chosen people, the people He revealed Himself to and took special care of.

Ok. Let’s go on to see what else Jesus says. Read verse 11:

Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak that which we know, and bear witness of that which we have seen; and you do not receive our witness.

verse 11

Questions for God

Here I took special note of the pronouns Jesus uses. He says “we speak” and “we know” and “we have seen” referring to “our witness.” Is we singular or plural? (plural) Then to whom is Jesus referring? (Himself!) Ok, but he is just one man. Who else could he be referring to? I wonder.

I took this opportunity to tell my kids there are questions I have about the Bible that I want to ask God when I get to heaven. My questions for God show my kids I am still learning about the Bible, too. I don’t know everything, but I know Who to go to for the answers.

When you come upon something in Scriptures you do not understand, take note of it. It is good to have questions. And it is good to direct your kids to:

  • Read, read, read, repeat
  • Ask God to enlighten the eyes and mind, to be your Teacher
  • Remember the question for later – not all questions have answers we will know now, but nothing which is hidden will not be revealed (Luke 8:17)

Witnesses

Back to what we can understand of verse 11. Do you remember the witness in a trial? What does a witness testify about? (what he has heard and seen) Jesus mentions that He (and others) are also testifying about what they know.

How does Nicodemus respond to this witness? (he does not receive it) What does it mean to receive? (to accept something, like a gift. To believe it!)

Let’s read verses 12 together.

If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how shall you believe if I tell you heavenly things?

verse 12

Jesus makes a distinction here between two things. What are the two things? {we had to read this a couple of times to see the distinction} (heavenly things and earthly things)

{I drew two boxes for the two things and asked them which box to put “heavenly” things in and which to put “earthly” things in.}

What is the difference between earthly things and heavenly things? Let’s start with earthly things. (sinful, things you can see, things you can touch, the ground) And now what about heavenly things? Can we see heavenly things? (no) Can we touch heavenly things? (no, they are better things)

Up and Down

Now before we read this next verse I want you too notice up and down in it. {I pointed up and down} When there is a word that means down, I want you to point down. And when there is a word that means up, point up. Ok? Let’s read the verse:

And no one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven, even the Son of Man.

verse 13

What does “ascended” mean? (up) And what does “descended” mean? (down) Who has ascended to heaven according to Jesus? (no one) Really, no one? No one, but He! Who descended? (Jesus! He came down from heaven and became a baby) Yes! {I made a stronger dividing line between our heavenly and earthly boxes}

But what does He call Himself here? (the Son of Man) But His name is Jesus! Do you remember the other names we have already heard for Jesus? (the Word, the light, God) Yes. There are some other names for Jesus (remember the Lamb of God?) and here, He calls Himself Son of Man. Do you remember when John said, “and the Word became flesh?(yes!)

So who is the only one who has descended from heaven? (the Son of Man, Jesus!) What kinds of things – heavenly or earthly – does Jesus testify about? (heavenly) {I wrote Son of Man in the heavenly box and drew and arrow from the heavenly box down to the earthly box}

But Nicodemus doesn’t accept those things. He doesn’t believe those things. Next time, Jesus is going to talk to Nicodemus about something he does believe – something earthly.


Thank you for following along with our Inductive Bible Study for Kids! I truly love doing this study with my kids and sharing it with you. Thanks for your patience as life happens around here. I am hoping to make some real progress with this study this summer.

Blessings to you!

Series Navigation<< Your Guide to Getting Started with Inductive Bible Study for Kids

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