Family Sunday School Devotional for September 6
“Kingdom Parables” from Matthew 13
Listen to- “Treasure (Matthew 6:20-21)” by Seeds Family Worship here:
and- “Seek Ye First” by Maranatha here:
Later, for younger kids, watch- “Parable of the Sower Animation” here:
Supplies Needed- For younger kids: tub, plastic gems or coins, filler- dried beans, rice, or fabric (scraps of sewing cloth, washcloths/small towels, cloth napkins, etc.); for older kids: plastic gem or coin
Summary- God’s growing kingdom is more valuable than anything.
Introduction Younger Kid Activity- Find the Treasure Place a few plastic gems or coins in a tub. Fill the tub with beans, rice, or fabric. Allow kids to sift through, looking for treasures. Say, “Finding a buried treasure may sound like a start to a wonderful adventure story. Jesus explained that the kingdom of God is like a buried treasure. Entering God’s kingdom is the start of a wonderful adventure, too!”
Introduction Older Kid Activity- Hidden Treasure Before lesson time, hide a plastic gem or coin somewhere in the room. Explain to kids that you’ve hidden a special object- a treasure! Describe the item and challenge kids to find it. If needed, play “hot and cold” to give clues to the treasure’s location. Have kids not pick up the treasure but quietly return to their seat without giving away the location to anyone else. Say, “How did you feel when you found the hidden treasure? In the story we are going to hear today, a man found a treasure that was so valuable, he sold everything he had to get it.”
Big Picture Question- Say, “Our new Big Picture Question asks: How does God care for His creation? That’s an important question because the Bible tells us that all of creation is under God’s rule. He is the King of the universe, so understanding the ways He takes care of everything under His rule helps us see that He is a good King. The answer to our question is: God loves and rules over His creation according to His perfect plan.”
Bible Story- Timeline Say, “In the beginning, there was nothing. Then God created everything! Everything God created was good until Adam and Eve chose to rebel against God’s perfect rule. Their sin caused everything to fall apart. Thankfully, nothing happens apart from God’s plan, so He promised to send a Rescuer to fix what sin had broken. Thousands of years passed, and God’s people had many ups and downs in their struggle to obey God. Eventually, God kept His promise. Jesus was born and grew up. Jesus never sinned, and He traveled Israel teaching people and working miracles. One of the things He spoke about often was the kingdom of God and the ways it would come into the world. Our story today is called ‘Kingdom Parables’ because Jesus used parables– stories with deeper meaning- to help people understand what the kingdom of God is like. Open a Bible to Matthew 13:1-23, 31-33, 44-51. Say, “Where do we read God’s words? In the Bible! We know that all God’s words are true. Today’s Bible story comes from the Book of Matthew.” 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 218.
Christ Connection- Say, “The kingdom of God is growing in the world. This kingdom is valuable and worth giving everything for. While we wait for Jesus to return and fully set up His kingdom, we carry out the mission of telling others about King Jesus, who rescues sinners.”
Key Passage- Open a Bible to Colossians 1:13-14. Read the verses aloud. Say, “Before we trust in Jesus, we are dead in our sin and are separated from God. Everyone who trusts in Him has forgiveness and new life with Him forever. He frees us from sin and brings us into His kingdom.”
Review Questions- Ask the following questions:
- *PreK- Who used stories to teach people about God’s kingdom? (Jesus)
- *PreK- What were these stories called? (parables)
- *PreK- Did everyone understand the parables? (no)
- *PreK- How does God’s kingdom grow? (more and more people believe in Jesus)
- Who fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy about listening and not understanding? (Matthew 13:13-14)
- How is the kingdom of heaven like a buried treasure? (Matthew 13:44)
- Have you ever had to give up something to follow Jesus? (Guide kids to discuss situations they may have faced where they had to choose obedience over popularity, comfort, or another thing the world can offer. Be prepared to share your own experiences, too.)
- Would you give up everything to follow Jesus? (Help kids think through the kinds of sacrifices some believers must make, such as missionaries or those living in places hostile to Jesus. Remind them that God may not tell them to give up everything, but they are called to be ready if necessary.)
- How are you part of God’s plan to grow His kingdom? (Talk through ways kids can live on mission. Help them come up with ways to show love to others and creative ways they can share the Gospel with friends and loved ones. Remind them that the Holy Spirit gives us wisdom and courage to know God’s will and obey it.)
- How does God care for His creation? (God loves and rules over His creation according to His perfect plan.)
Say, “God’s growing kingdom is more valuable than anything. We become a part of God’s kingdom when we have faith in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. We can be a part of the kingdom’s growth by living on mission to tell others about Jesus.”
For Older Kids- Also, ask the following questions:
- Why did Jesus teach in parables? (Lead kids to recall that parables reveal hidden truths about God’s kingdom that not everyone will understand. Point out how the religious leaders did not accept Jesus as Messiah. They did not recognize that God’s kingdom had come- perhaps because it was unlike what they expected. When we understand the truth about God’s kingdom, we joyfully accept it and are blessed. Read Matthew 13:35)
- What is most valuable to you? How do your actions show its value? (Invite kids to share what is most important to them. Challenge them to assess whether or not their actions support their claims. Point out that some of the ways we show what is most valuable to us is in the way we spend our time and resources. Discuss some of the things the world values and why God’s kingdom is more valuable than anything. Read Matthew 6:19-21)
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?
For Younger Kids- Watch “Parable of the Sower Animated” Video (see link above) Talk about how God grows His kingdom when people believe in Jesus as their Savior. Ask kids if they are part of God’s kingdom- do they believe in Jesus as their Savior? Answer any questions they might have about salvation or being a part of God’s kingdom (see The Gospel below).
For Older Kids- Parable Charades Assign each family member to reread one of the following parables: “Parable of the Mustard Seed” (Matthew 13:31-32), “Parable of the Leaven (Matthew 13:33), “Parable of the Hidden Treasure” (Matthew 13:44), or “Parable of the Priceless Pearl” (Matthew 13:45-46). Then, challenge family members to act out one of the parables with the rest of the family guessing which one. Talk about how each parable teaches about the kingdom of God. Ask kids if they are part of God’s kingdom- do they believe in Jesus as their Savior? Answer any questions they might have about salvation or being a part of God’s kingdom (see The Gospel below).
Share the Gospel- The Gospel: God’s Plan for Me Clarify that the word Gospel means “good news”. It is the message about Jesus Christ, the kingdom of God, and salvation. God rules. The Bible tells us God created everything, and He is in charge of everything. (Read aloud Genesis 1:1 and either Revelation 4:11 or Colossians 1:16-17.) We sinned. Since the time of Adam and Eve, everyone has chosen to disobey God (read aloud or quote Romans 3:23). The Bible calls this sin. Because God is holy, God cannot be around sin. Sin separates us from God and deserves God’s punishment of death (Romans 6:23). God provided. (John 3:16) God sent His Son, Jesus, the perfect solution to our sin problem, to rescue us from the punishment we deserve. It’s something we, as sinners, could never earn on our own. Jesus alone saves us. (Ephesians 2:8-9) Jesus gives. Jesus lived a perfect life, died on the cross for our sins, and rose again. Because Jesus gave His life for us, we can be welcomed into God’s family for eternity. This is the best gift ever! (Romans 5:8, 2 Corinthians 5:21, or 1 Peter 3:18) We respond. You can respond to Jesus. (Romans 19:9-10, 13). Believe in your heart that Jesus alone saves you through what He’s already done on the cross. Repent, turning from self and sin to Jesus. Tell God and others that your faith is in Jesus.
Adult Sunday School Lesson for September 6
“Jesus Tells the Kingdom Parables” from Matthew 13
Listen to- “In Christ Alone” by Keith & Kristyn Getty here:
and- “And Can It Be That I Should Gain?” from Stuart Townend here:
Summary- Jesus used parables to teach what the kingdom of heaven will be like while we wait for Christ’s return and His full reign in the world.
Christ Connection- Jesus used parables to describe the nature of God’s kingdom on earth. Word of the kingdom is sown broadly and will be received differently based on the condition of one’s heart. For those with hearts of fertile soil, the Word yields extraordinary fruitfulness, causing the kingdom to grow and extend into all the world. When Jesus returns, we will experience the full manifestation of God’s kingdom.
Point 1. Word of the kingdom of heaven will be sown on different kinds of soils (read aloud Matthew 13:1-9).
Note- A seasoned farmer would do whatever he could to determine which soil was fertile and receptive or take steps to make it so. It might take tilling the soil and removing rocks. It might take clearing the soil of bad plants, weeds, thorns, and other things that would compromise the growth of the crop to be planted. It might take setting up an irrigation system so what’s planted has access to the water needed for fruitful growth. The sower in Jesus’ parable, however, is just scattering seed far and wide with no thought at all to the suitability of the soil. Why? Because this isn’t a lesson in agriculture but a spiritual parable about the kingdom of God.
Note- One thing Jesus does with this parable is remind those of us responsible for sowing to leave the quality of the soil to Him. We don’t need to change or modify the seed; the Gospel is perfect and powerful in and of itself. We don’t need to test the soil; we cannot control who is stony or thorny and who isn’t. We are to remain faithful in personal evangelism as we proclaim Christ’s kingdom and leave it to the Lord in His wisdom to determine the results. Another takeaway from this parable is nobody’s conversion is more or less likely than anybody else’s. Each of us, however we were raised- in church or out, religious or irreligious- was born with a heart predisposed against the holiness of God. We are, by nature, rebels; we all belong to the category of soils illustrated by the path, the rocky ground, and the thorns. Indeed, it is sometimes even the most religious of unbelievers who seem hardest to convert, if only because self-righteousness often can be a more deceptive inoculation against the Gospel than the emptiness of licentious living. But nothing is impossible for God. He will soften hearts as He pleases through His Spirit, the Word of God, and our prayers. No soil is too stony; no heart is too dead. Finally, in this parable, we can see that all the glory in salvation goes to God alone. If we could test soil and genetically modify seed to ensure success, we could claim at least partial credit for our ingenuity and efforts. But instead, we must simply submit to the power of God as we sow the seed everywhere we can, knowing that God is the One who gives the growth (see 1 Corinthians 3:7). And grow His kingdom He will.
Respond- Why should believers be encouraged that the growth of the kingdom is God’s responsibility and not our own?
Point 2. Growth of the kingdom of heaven will permeate the world (read aloud Matthew 13:31-33).
Note- Jesus’ ministry didn’t look like much at first. He didn’t draft religious experts or politicians for His movement; He chose fishermen and tax collectors- nobodies. His harshest words were for those in power, and His gentlest for those deemed unreachable and untouchable. This is not how you start a campaign for world domination, if conventional wisdom is the guide. As Jesus challenged cultural expectations and people’s religious desires, He nevertheless was ushering in the most powerful force in the universe- namely, the kingdom of God with Himself as King- through remarkably modest means. The beginning of Christ’s ministry did not look like much to so many around Him. Just as it is today, the true way of Jesus was considered out of step with the world, unfashionable, and “on the wrong side of history”. But this appraisal is based on a worldly vision for where history is actually going.
Respond- How should knowing that Christ’s kingdom will prevail affect your viewpoint on earthly kingdoms?
Point 3. The worth of the kingdom of heaven will compel the forsaking of all (read aloud Matthew 13:44-46).
Note- When we finally discover the one thing worth trading everything for, not a treasure, not a pearl, not a possession- when we come into the kingdom of God through faith in the Son of God- we see why all our time pursuing temporary joys and impermanent riches was a colossal waste. True joy, true eternal riches, are found in Christ alone.
Note- First, Jesus was saying the kingdom is more precious than any treasure or experience we could ever know. The man and the merchant are like the person who has spent his life in the fruitless pursuit of satisfying the flesh with earthly things. But when the man finds the treasure and the merchant the priceless pearl, he loses his taste for everything lesser. When people see the beauty of Christ and His kingdom with spiritual eyes, they begin to lose their desire for the things of this world and worthless idols. Seeing the all-surpassing glory of Christ prompts believers, figuratively speaking, to sell everything they own and purchase this inestimable treasure. Second, we also see a picture of the Son of God Himself in these parables. In the incarnation, for instance, the Son of God set aside His divine privileges (though not His divinity itself) to add to Himself the nature of humanity. In His earthly ministry, Jesus Christ renounced political power and cultural leverage in order to announce His Gospel of the kingdom, illustrated in freedom to the captives, healing of the sick, joy to the mourners, and provision to the needy. And then Jesus fulfilled the mission for which He came. He submitted to the torture and anguished death of crucifixion. He gave up what most of us would consider our own most precious possession- He laid down His life. Why would Jesus do all of this? He gave up everything because, once again, the kingdom is worth it. When we truly see how valuable Christ’s blood-bought, Spirit-empowered kingdom is, it becomes our own privilege and joy to count it our most precious possession, even at the cost of our lives.
Respond- How can Christians live to demonstrate that the kingdom of heaven is their greatest treasure?
Conclusion- Our ordinary lives are often filled with experiential pleasures and happiness. There are lots of good gifts from God that each one of us gets to enjoy in this beautiful world He made. But our ordinary lives can serve- even through the “good times”- to dull our spiritual senses. Everyday life can deaden our sensitivity to the things of God. Jesus’ kingdom parables are like smelling salts in this way. They shock us awake- in a good way- to look beyond our circumstances, to peek behind the curtain, and to see even the good gifts of this world as essentially nothing compared to the Giver Himself.
Apply- Because we have been given new life through our King, Jesus, we witness to God’s kingdom and proclaim the message of salvation in Christ to all, knowing that when the Gospel takes root in good ground, it produces bountiful fruit.
(Pray, praising God the Father for being mighty and yet using what the world perceives as weak, foolish, and unimportant for His glory. Thank Jesus for His willingness to give up everything for our sake. Ask the Holy Spirit to give us power to proclaim the Gospel of the kingdom to everyone so that He might be glorified.)