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People in the Temple Learn about Jesus

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Imagine (K-1)Year 1Unit 3 (Imagine Meeting Jesus)Session 5

People in the Temple Learn about Jesus

People in the temple learned that Jesus was God's Son.
Faith Nurture Goals
  • Express excitement and eagerness to learn more about Jesus.
  • Imagine Jesus as a child.
  • Feel close to Jesus because he was once a child like us.
  • Feel awe for Jesus because he is also God's own Son.
Memory Challenge

Leader Reflection

Preparing to Tell God's Story

It's really amazing that this is the only story in the Bible about Jesus between the ages of infancy and thirty years old. This story crackles with authenticity and mystery.

Again, we witness Jesus' family in their context as faithful Jews observant of God's commandments. Celebrating Passover, the central Jewish festival, was one thing, but celebrating it in Jerusalem was really important. Every Jewish family made that trip whenever possible. Imagine large groups of people traveling together in a spirit of festivity and expectation. For kids it must have been really fun---camping along the way, playing with other kids, seeing the big city.

At twelve, Jesus had probably already made his bar mitzvah (literally, son of the covenant)---something like young teens today making confirmation or public profession of faith. Having taken that step, he would have been excited to join his parents for their first trip to Jerusalem together. Imagine his excitement when, rounding a corner on the road, the gorgeous white walls of the temple suddenly came into view.

Throngs of visitors from all over Palestine and from all over the world descended on Jerusalem during Passover. Imagine the crowds milling in and around the temple, the noises and smells of the sacrificial animals, the dealers hawking their souvenirs. How exciting for a boy from Nazareth!

As Mary and Joseph begin the trip home, they discover that Jesus is nowhere to be found. Could they be such careless parents as not to have missed their son for a whole day? With so many extended family members, brothers, sisters, cousins, and friends, the kids must have had a grand time playing together along the way---and the parents expected to find them all in camp at evening. But on this evening there was no Jesus.

Frantically Mary and Joseph rushed back to the city and searched for three whole days. Imagine their desperation! I suppose the last place they'd expect to find a twelve-year-old was in church (the temple), holding forth with the theologians.

Like any parent who finally finds a lost child, Mary and Joseph are both relieved and angry: "How could you treat us like that?" Jesus' answer sounds precisely adolescent. He didn't get what the fuss was all about: "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?

They did get home after that, and Luke reports that Jesus "grew up, he increased in wisdom and in favor with God and the people."

This fascinating story raises lots of questions about who Jesus is. Our creeds and confessions stress that Jesus was "truly God and truly human." He was a real boy, absorbed in his own world, heedless of how his parents felt. He grew and matured, developed in body and mind like everyone else. But there was something else---this growing awareness of a special relationship with his "Father" and his attachment to "my Father's house." No other twelve-year-old Jewish boy in those days would speak that way. A very real boy who was also the very real Son of God---what a wonderful mystery contained in such a compelling story!

  • Try to picture Jesus and his parents arriving in Jerusalem and moving with the crowds in the temple. What are the looks on their faces and the feelings in their hearts?

  • How did Joseph feel when Jesus talked about "my Father's house"?

  • Did Jesus always stick out in a crowd, or did he mostly seem pretty normal?

  • This is a great story for kids, even young kids, who can really identify with kids who are just a bit older. Make sure they get idea of this ordinary, yet extraordinary boy. Of course they can't really understand it (who can?), but it's important that they sense the tension. Consider asking them how they would feel if they lived next door to Jesus' family.

  • Try to convey some of the excitement of the Passover trip for a boy Jesus' age.


Step 1 Gathering for God's Story

  • body smart
  • music smart
  • picture smart
  • word smart

Before children arrive, prepare today’s story symbol as an ornament to hang on the Christmas tree at the appropriate time.

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