Welcome to the inductive Bible study for kids called The Story of the Birth of Jesus! This 12-day series will help you to study the Bible with your kids while developing familiarity with the tools of inductive Bible study. I hope it is an encouragement to you during this holiday season. You can find the posts on this page, which will be updated daily. If you have any questions along the way, please be sure to put your questions on the post comments section at the bottom of the post you are inquiring about – that way we can “share with the class.”
Let’s get to it!
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Stories Start with Characters
The Bible, God’s message to man about Himself, is full of characters. Almost every one of them is deeply flawed, deeply human. Every character, save Jesus, the perfect Word made flesh, is used of God to tell His redemption story. When we read the Bible inductively, we are looking to learn about the human condition (sin) and how God deals with men and women. When we come across a character in the Bible, we can make lists of what we learn about them. And we can look at the character qualities he demonstrated. Some we will want to imitate. Others will serve as a warning against ungodly behavior, ungodly words, and ungodly thoughts.
Jesus is not simply a character in God’s story. He, along with, God the Father and the Holy Spirit, is the main character. He is the focus point of all of Scripture. Therefore, when we read any portion of Scripture, we should be looking for Him, what we learn about Him. The truths we are reminded of time and again in Scripture are the portrait of Christ we want to get to know and memorize. Every chapter, every passage has something to tell us about Him.
A New Character – Zacharias
The Bible doesn’t just pick up in the New Testament telling about Jesus. Jesus is woven into the beautiful tapestry of scripture. You can see the thread of Him from Genesis through Revelation. But in the New Testament, He is revealed in a new way – He becomes a man. Before He is a man, He is born of a virgin. And before He is born of a virgin, a number of miraculous and astounding events take place to prepare His way. We are dropping into this scene – the sort of precursor scenes to the birth of Jesus. And we meet some of the imperfect but important people of God’s story.
A little programming note here: all that has gone before is prefatory. You do not need to read it to your kids, but it is gives you background to the process of Bible study and the reason for the study. Going forward the study will just tell you what to do and how to do it.
Creating a list about Zacharias
Read Luke 1:5-23. Let’s make a list about Zacharias. Who is he? How is he described? What is his problem? What has he been praying for? What is he doing in this story? How did he respond to the angel? Write the name Zacharias at the top of a piece of paper or a chalkboard and make this list.
- priest, of Abijah (5)
- husband to Elizabeth (also a Levite) (5)
- righteous in the sight of God (6)
- walking blamelessly in all commandments/requirements of the Lord (6)
- no child (7)
- advanced in years (7)
- chosen by lot to enter the temple to burn incense (9)
- petitioned the Lord for a child (13)
- questioned the angel: “How?” (18)
A Promise for a Priest
The angel promises something to Zacharias. What is it? Read verses 13-17 again. Note the word “will.” Will, in this passage, is a promise word. It is telling what will happen in the future. Who can tell the future? (only God!) Record what the angel tells Zacharias will happen.
- your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son (13)
- you will give him the name John (13)
- you will have joy and gladness (14)
- many will rejoice at his birth (14)
- he will be great in the sight of the Lord (15)
- he will drink no wine or liquor (15)
- he will be filled with the Holy Spirit (15) – while yet in his mother’s womb
- he will turn back many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God (16)
- he will go as a forerunner before Him (17) in the spirit and power of Elijah
Take a moment to evaluate your list. Are these promises miraculous promises? Would these things happen even if God did not promise them? Is there anything here that Zacharias could be obedient to?
Optional Extras – Priestly Service
Is this an ordinary day in the life of Zacharias? What would an ordinary day be like for a priest in Israel before Jesus was born? (Read 1 Chronicles 24:19, 2 Chronicles 8:14; 31:2, and Exodus 30: 7-8)
What is the purpose of incense? Can you tell by this passage? Read Psalm 141:2 and Revelation 5:8; 8:3. What is offered with incense? What have Zacharias and Elizabeth been praying for?
Simple Activity: A Mute Witness
Zacharias asks the angel a question. What does he ask the angel in verse 18? (How shall I know this for certain?) He gives a reason for his question. What is the reason for his question? (For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.)
In response to Zacharias’ question, the angel tells Zacharias he “will be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place.” And Gabriel, the angel, also tells him why Zacharias will be mute. Why will Zacharias be mute? (because you did not believe my words, which shall be fulfilled in their proper time). What do you think of this?
When Zacharias left the temple, the people knew by looking at him he had seen an angel. He couldn’t tell them with words what had happened.
Imagine you are Zacharias and you are trying to tell the people what you saw and what you heard. Can you act it out?
Tomorrow we will examine what Scripture has to say about Zacharias’ wife Elizabeth. Take a few minutes to talk about prayer requests. God has a message in Zacharias and Elizabeth’s story about long-term prayer requests.