Heart to Heart Teacher Devotion
Learning to obey is one of the greatest struggles for children. When children learn that God is pleased by their obedience and right choices, they are encouraged to keep trying. We are often like children in our desire to be independent, and we forget that God calls us to obedience as well. When we consider that the perfect Son of God asked a man to baptize Him, we should be humbled by His example.
Bible Background for the Teacher
John the Baptist was the son of the priest Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth. Elizabeth was a cousin to Jesus’ mother, Mary. John lived in the wilderness, or desert, area west of the Dead Sea. Around AD 27 he began to preach along the Jordan River. John preached to prepare people for Jesus. His ministry was foretold by the prophets Isaiah and Malachi (see Isaiah 40:3-5 and Malachi 3:1; 4:5, 6). Jesus was 30 years old when He came to be baptized by John.
Below are some resources that will help you plan and lead this lesson.
Time For School! (Unit Center)
- Unit center supplies (see unit 2 pages)
- Optional: dry-erase markers and whiteboard
Show flash card 7c. SAY: John the Baptist was a teacher who taught people to follow God. We can please God by learning about His Word, the Bible. Let’s pretend we are at school and are learning to read new words. We can be teachers like John.
Let children take turns being the teacher and holding up the flash cards. Help them identify the letters in the words and sound out the words. Children can also practice copying the words on a board.
ASK: Who did John teach about? (God)
You can be a teacher like John. What can you teach to others?
Bugs and Honey
(Special Needs Friendly)
- Stick pretzels
- Small cups
- Wet wipes
SAY: The Bible says that we can please God. To please God means we do things that make God happy. Jesus pleased God, and so did His cousin John. John lived in a desert area. He ate honey and locusts, which are like grasshoppers.
Squeeze a small amount of honey into cups, one for each child. Let children dip their pretzels in the honey, pretending to be like John. Encourage children to taste their snacks. Discuss the flavor and texture of the foods (sweet, salty, crunchy) and compare them with what John ate.
ASK: Would bugs and honey taste like this snack?
Do you think you would like to eat locusts (grasshoppers)?
Why do you think John ate bugs and honey? (They were the foods available where he lived.)
Dressing for the Occasion
- Rough towels
- Optional: mirror
Show the teaching picture. SAY: John the Baptist was a man who taught people about God. The Bible says John wore clothes made out of camel’s hair and wore a leather belt. How do you think it would feel to wear clothes made out of camel’s hair? Scratchy? Let’s pretend we are friends of John who dress as he does.
Help children pretend to dress like John. Let them take turns preaching in front of the group and telling what people should do to please God. We can please God when we tell others about Him.
ASK: Why do you think John wore clothes made of camel’s hair? (Animal fur was commonly used for clothing in Bible times.)
How would you feel if your clothes were made from camel’s hair?
Sing and Pray
- CD tracks 2 and 5
- CD player
- Blue and brown bedsheets (or material or large paper)
Sing “Come and Follow” and “He Pleased God.”
PRAY: Dear God, help us to obey and do right. Help us to please You in everything we do. In Jesus’ name, amen.
SAY: How many of you have seen a baptism? Briefly explain what happens during a baptism. Today our Bible story is about a baptism.
Show the sheets. We’ll pretend that the brown sheet is ground and the blue one is a river. Let’s listen about how Jesus and a man named John pleased God at a river. We can please God when we listen to stories from the Bible.
- 2 paper lunch bags
Narrator: The Bible book of Matthew, chapter 3 (show Matthew 3), tells about a man named John the Baptist, Jesus’s cousin. John lived in the desert area around the Jordan River.
John appears over the top of the brown sheet.
He wore clothes made out of camel’s hair and a leather belt. He ate food that was found in the desert—locusts and honey. John spent all day preaching to people and telling them what God wanted them to do.
John: Get ready for a Savior to come. Change your hearts. Be baptized so God will forgive you for the wrong things that you do.
Narrator: When people were sorry for the wrong things they had done, John baptized them in the Jordan River. Move John over to the blue sheet, then back again. One day Jesus came to John.
Jesus: John, I need you to baptize me.
John: Jesus, I shouldn’t baptize You. You have never done anything wrong. You should baptize me!
Jesus: No, John, this is the right thing to do, and it would please God.
Narrator: So John baptized Jesus in the river. Move John and Jesus over to the blue sheet and act out the baptism. As soon as Jesus came up out of the water, the sky opened and the Spirit of God came down like a dove. Jesus and John and all the people who were watching heard God’s voice! God said, “This is my Son. I love Him. I am pleased with Him.” Jesus and John did the right thing. God was pleased with them.
- Craft sticks
Before class, copy and cut out paper doves, one for each child. Tape a craft stick to the back of each dove, as a handle.
Ask questions about the Bible story. “Fly” a dove to the child when he answers. Or have the children fly their doves to you when they answer.
ASK: What did John tell the people? (“Change your hearts.”)
What happened after Jesus was baptized? (God spoke.)
Who pleased God? (Jesus and John)
- Dove stick puppets prepared for the Bible Review
Before class, print and display the motions.
Read Luke 2:52 and review the motions with the children. SAY: Now let’s fly our dove puppets in a circle as we say Luke 2:52.
Have children say the Bible Memory as they fly their doves.
GROW AND GO
Do Right Tic-Tac-Toe
- Washable markers (or crayons)
- Optional: paper, resealable plastic bags
SAY: We can please God as Jesus did. When we make right choices, we please God and make Him happy. Let’s play a game of tic-tac-toe and decide which choices are right and which are wrong.
Have children cut out the game board and color the pictures.
Help them decide which pictures show choices that are wrong and put frowning X stickers on these pictures. Then put smiling Os on the right choices. Mark the winning diagonal lines. If you want the children to play several times, put the stickers on paper and let them cut them apart. Give children resealable plastic bags for their game pieces.
When we make right choices, we are always winners!
ASK: What can you do to please God and make Him happy?
Go and Please God
- Toy cars, people, and houses
SAY: Jesus made the right choice to be baptized. We can please God by making right choices too. Let’s pretend we are going to different places in our cars. We can name ways to please God at those places.
As children drive their cars on the floor, give each child a scenario. (Examples: a new child has come to Sunday school, your mom asks you to help clean up a room at home, brother is crying because he fell on some play equipment at the park) Have each child tell how he can please God by the way he handles the situation.
ASK: How can you please God at home? at a friend’s house?
What will you do to please God this week?