Note that we have separated the worship and Sunday school materials into separate posts to keep things organized. You can find the Sunday morning sermon here.
Family Sunday School Devotion for May 24
“Jesus and Nicodemus” from John 3
Listen to- “Grace (Ephesians 2:8)” from Seeds Family Worship here:
And “Eternal Life (John 3:16)” from Seeds Family Worship here:
Later, during Key Passage, watch “For God So Loved (John 3:16)- Tutorial” from Faith Inkubators here:
Supplies Needed- For younger kids: picture-books of animals and houses with everyday objects pictured; for older kids: index cards/blank paper, pencils
Summary- Jesus taught that we must be born again.
Introduction Younger Kid Activity- Try Hard Challenge children with various exercises, increasing how much you challenge them with each activity. Finish with an impossible task, such as lifting the roof off the house. Say, “You can’t do that, but God can! Trying hard and getting better at things is good but knowing when we can’t do something by ourselves and need God’s help is good, too. Some people try really hard to obey all of God’s laws because they think doing that will get them into heaven. Obeying God is good, but it doesn’t get us into heaven. Getting to heaven is not something we can do for ourselves, no matter how hard we try.”
Introduction Older Kid Activity- How in the World? Write 4 questions on separate index cards regarding how things work. Examples of questions: How can flies land on the ceiling? How do glasses help people see? Why is the ocean salty? Why does ice cream cause a “brain freeze”? Encourage kids to write brief answers on the back of the cards. Encourage best guesses. Then, have them read aloud their answers. Say, “Those were some hard questions to answer! Sometimes answers are difficult to understand! In the Bible story we will hear today, a man asked Jesus, ‘How can anyone be born when he is old?’ We’ll find out what Jesus answered.”
Big Picture Question- Say, “Jesus met all kinds of people while He was on earth, and He loved them. As you hear today’s Bible story, think about our big picture question: What makes people special? The answer is: People are special because we are made in His image, as male and female, to know Him. God is not distant; He is personal and wants us to know Him. One way we can know God better is by reading His Word- the Bible.”
Bible Story- Timeline Say, “A few weeks back, we learned about Jesus’ early miracles. People came to Jesus, and He healed them. Then we learned that while in Nazareth, Jesus taught that He is the Messiah. Many of the people seemed open to that, until Jesus reminded them that God’s plan was for Gentiles as well as Jews. They rejected Jesus and rushed Him out of the synagogue. This week, we will learn about a religious leader named Nicodemus, who wanted to learn more about Jesus and met Him in secret.” Open a Bible to John 3:1-21. Either tell the story in your own words from this passage or read aloud from the Big Picture Interactive Bible Storybook (the Bible storybook your younger child received from Sunday School) page 196.
Christ Connection- Say, “Nicodemus needed new life- eternal life- but he could not do anything to earn it. Every person is born a sinner- spiritually dead and separated from God. Eternal life is a gift that comes only from God. It is by God’s Spirit- not our own effort- that we are born again. We look to Jesus and His finished work on the cross for our salvation. God showed His love in this way: He sent His one and only Son to save the world. Everyone who believes in Him will not perish but will have eternal life.”
Key Passage- Open a Bible to John 3:16. Read the verse aloud. You may watch the video of John 3:16 from Seeds Family Worship (see above). Come up with your own signs for the words of the verse or use the following sign language: “God” (open hand held upright coming down in front of face with thumb closest to face), “loved” (hug self), “world” (hold up 3 fingers on each hand to form sign language letter W and twirl hands around each other in a circle), “gave” (hook pointer fingers and pull hands toward self), “Son” (pinch hand together in front of forehead and pull down to two-handed rocking of a baby), “everyone” (make sign language for letters A by making fist with thumb up and L by holding out thumb and pointer finger, sweep hand with letter L across in front), “believes” (touch hand to forehead and then pull down to clasp hands together), “not” (shake pointer finger like saying “no”), “perish” (hold one palm face up and other palm face down, then flip flop them), “eternal” (point to head and make sign language for letter Y by making fist with thumb and pinkie finger sticking out, then push with letter Y outward), “life” (make sign for letter L with both hands, push upward). Say, “There are lots of different people in the world, so who can get in on this good news? Anyone willing to come to God, to return to Him, to see Him for all that He is, and to receive His promise to save and rescue us from the wrath to come. This is happening all over the world. God is saving people from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation.”
Review Questions- Ask the following questions:
- *PreK- Who came to visit Nicodemus? What time of day? (Nicodemus; night)
- How did Nicodemus know that Jesus had been sent by God? (John 3:2)
- *PreK- What did Jesus say a person must be so they can see God’s kingdom? (born again)
- *PreK- Did Jesus mean that Nicodemus needed to be a baby again to see God’s kingdom? (no)
- What does it mean to be born again? (Prompt kids to think about the ending of their old, sinful lives and the start of their new lives following Jesus. Remind them that God declares sinners righteous when they believe in Jesus. God no longer sees believers as sinners, but as saints. Our new and eternal life with God starts as soon as we believe the Gospel.)
- *PreK- What makes people special? (People are special because God made us in His own image. *shortened)
- Why did God send Jesus to save us? (Remind kids that God loves people and always does what is for His glory and our good. We are special to God, and He wanted to save us from sin to show His goodness and love.)
Say, “Jesus taught that we must be born again. God wants us to believe the Gospel so we can have a personal relationship with Him forever.”
For Older Kids- Also, ask the following questions:
- How was the bronze serpent being lifted up like Jesus being lifted up? (read Numbers 21:8-9)
- Can a person get into heaven by doing enough good things? Why or why not? (read Ephesians 2:8-9)
- How is being apart from God like being in the dark? (Explain to kids that the Bible says that Jesus is the light of the world. Before we trust in Jesus, we live in spiritual darkness. Discuss the difficulty of seeing in the dark. God lights up the path of our lives and shows us what is true. We can tell others about what Jesus has done and pray for them. Read Ephesians 5:8-10)
Reflection- Ask older children to answer one of the following questions:
- What does this story teach me about God or the Gospel?
- What does the story teach me about myself?
- Whom can I tell about this story?
Closing Younger Kid Activity- Define Image Together, look through picture books. Point out various images and ask, “Is this a real lion or just a picture?” Emphasize that everything in the books is just a picture, or image, of something that really exists. You may also point out real items around your house and contrast them with pictures in books. Say, “Our big picture question asks, What makes people special? People are special because God made us in His own image. God made us to be a picture of what He is like. We are not God. God is greater and more powerful than anything and anyone, but He made us in His likeness to show the world a little of what He is like. Jesus is more than an image of God. Jesus is God the Son. Jesus shows us exactly what God is like! Everyone who believes in Jesus receives God’s gift of eternal life.”
Closing Older Kid Activity- Prepare the Way Write the following phrases on index cards and scatter them on a table: (Make friends. Play or hang out. Eat a meal/ice cream together. Invite to your home. Give a Bible. Talk about church. Pray for them. Invite to church. Get to know their family. Tell them how to become a Christian.) Lead kids from card to card (in whatever order you as a family decide) to discuss each step in an “evangelism plan”. Say, “Missionaries around the world form friendships with the people who live around them and then talk about Jesus while they spend time together. We can do this, too! Jesus taught that we must be born again. When we help people come to know Jesus, we are helping them begin their new life as a Christian.”
Pray- In closing, thank God for making the way for us to have new life when we trust in Jesus. Pray for people to form friendships with who need to know about Jesus.
Adult Sunday School Devotion for May 24
“Jesus Teaches About New Birth” from John 3
Listen to- “Father, Spirit, Jesus” from Casting Crowns here:
and- “The Old Rugged Cross” from Don Moen here:
Summary- Jesus taught that the new birth is a gift from the Father and the work of the Spirit for all who believe in the Son.
Christ Connection- Jesus taught that new birth, not religious activity, is how a person enters the kingdom of God and receives eternal life. New birth is given from God the Father through faith in God the Son as a work of God the Spirit. Because of God’s love, we are no longer condemned because of our sin, but we have been given eternal life in Christ.
Point 1. New birth is a work of the Holy Spirit (read aloud John 3:3-8).
Note- Often we underestimate the weight and consequence of our sin. No amount of sacrifices or religious efforts on our part will heal our spiritual disease. No heart transplant will solve this problem- we need to be born again into a completely new nature.
Note- Jesus compared the spiritual work of the Spirit of the wind (“spirit” and “wind” are the same word in Greek). Although we can’t comprehend the wind or see where it comes from, we see its effects plainly before us: the grass waves, the tree bends, the water swells. No one would suggest that because we can’t see the wind it does not exist. In the same way, we cannot understand the Spirit or see where the Spirit comes from, nor can we control the Spirit or bend the Spirit to our will. But we can see the transforming effects of the Spirit all the same because those who have been born again bear the fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23). We cannot remain unchanged after undergoing so radical a renewal.
Regeneration takes place at the beginning of the Christian life and is the miraculous transformation, or the new birth, that takes place within an individual through the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit (see Titus 3:5). It is the divine side of conversion (a person turning to Christ in repentance and faith), being the work of God within a person’s life that causes him or her to be born again, a work that human effort is unable to produce.
Note- The Old Testament foreshadowed the new birth that would one day come in the Spirit. New birth in the Spirit had always been God’s plan, a permanent solution to the sin problem the law only temporarily addressed. Nicodemus, as a Pharisee and a teacher of the law, should have recognized this.
Two Old Testament references foreshadowing the new birth through the Holy Spirit:
-God gave physical and spiritual life to Adam when He breathed into him (see Genesis 2:7).
-Ezekiel’s vision of dry bones coming to life when the breath entered the bodies describes the Lord bringing His people to life when He puts His Spirit in them (see Ezekiel 37:1-14).
Respond- How has the storyline of the Bible through the Old Testament shown the need for the new birth?
Point 2. New birth comes through faith in the Son of God (read aloud John 3:9-15).
Note- Prior to Jesus, there was no human expert on heavenly things who could teach the world. No one ever ascended up into heaven and then came back down to talk about it. Even the two Old Testament people who went up to heaven apart from death- Enoch (see Genesis 5:21-24) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:11)- never came back to earth bearing the wisdom that can only be found there. Jesus, however, did possess heavenly wisdom, not because He had ascended into heaven, learned it, and returned with it, but because He, the Word, created the heavens and the earth, dwelled in heaven, and descended from there to earth as the embodiment of God’s wisdom (see John 1:1-3, 14; Colossians 2:2-3).
Respond- What are some reasons we should trust Jesus’ teaching?
Note- Jesus recalled the story of Moses and the bronze serpent (see Numbers 21:4-9), in which the disobedient Israelites were bitten by poisonous snakes and would die unless they looked at the image of the bronze snake mounted on a pole. New life was given to all who gazed upon the snake. It was lifted up that all may have the opportunity to see it and be saved from the consequences of their disobedience. The cross was a thing of shame in Roman times, a publicly humiliating and excruciating way to die reserved for the most lowly of criminals. But Christ transformed His cross into a thing of glory and honor. He was obedient to the Father even unto death and stopped at nothing to free all those who believe in Him from the power of sin and death. The cross of Christ has become a symbol of victory. Instead of reminding us of death, it points us to new life in Jesus Christ our Lord. Through Christ’s sacrifice, we may receive eternal life if we believe in Him. This is how, as Nicodemus inquired, “these things can be”. What was once impossible on our own is now made possible in Christ, whose life, death, and resurrection grant us new birth and eternal life by faith.
Point 3. New birth is a gift from God the Father (read aloud John 3:16-18).
Note- As discussed previously, new birth only comes by the Spirit. We cannot accomplish new birth by our flesh; rather, it must flow from God. Also, new birth by the Spirit is only possible through the Son. Through faith in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our debt is paid and we are put in a position to receive new birth in the Spirit. But God the Father is also involved in the new birth.
Respond- What are some ways we should respond to God for the gift of His Son?
Note- Apart from God’s grace in Jesus, we already stand in a position of condemnation because our relationship with God is broken by our sin. We are not standing on neutral ground, as if we have the choice before us to mess up and perish or do right and receive eternal life. No, we are either with God or against Him (see Matthew 12:30), and because we are sinners, we already stand condemned. The miraculous thing, however, is that believing in Jesus, the Son whom God sent, gives us the way out of our impending peril.
Conclusion and Application- Jesus taught that new birth, which is given from God the Father through faith in God the Son as a work of God the Spirit, is how a person enters the kingdom of God and receives eternal life. Because of God’s love, we are no longer condemned because of our sin, but we have been given eternal life in Christ. God’s love toward us flows out of His loving nature, not because of our loveliness. Understanding God’s great love for us as sinners ought to motivate us to share that love with others. We get to be about the Father’s business of carrying His love and sharing the Gospel wherever we go. By His Spirit within us, we carry the treasure- the best news there is- that God so loved the world that He sacrificed His Son to save it. It is to this mission that we have been called so others may believe in Jesus and be born again.
(Take some time to pray for opportunities to share the Gospel with family, friends, and neighbors.)