An introductory note: This fall, we will revisit some of the stories we heard about Jesus last spring, and will try to delve more deeper into the life of Jesus. Over the next months, our children will hear and respond to Bible stories that depict Jesus as a teacher, Jesus as a healer, Jesus as companion, servant, and friend. Interspersed with these stories about Jesus, we will look back to narratives from Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, and the prophets. The Old Testament narratives we choose will illustrate God’s covenant relationship with Israel. Today’s story is an introduction to Jesus’ entire ministry. In Jesus’ quotation and interpretation of a passage from Isaiah 61 (which he quotes in Luke 4:18-19), we find an introduction to Jesus’ ministry of healing, feeding, prayer, exhortation, teaching, and companionship. Today’s lesson is a bit more difficult to grasp than many gospel stories and parables, but it is an essential introduction to Jesus’ ministry, Jesus’ life with us.
Gather together: Children and teachers are still getting to know one another. Take time to learn more about the students in your class. Converse freely, or play one of these “get to know you” games:
Ask and answer: Write some “get to know you” questions on the wipe board. (Eg – “Tell me about your pets.” “Tell me about one fun thing you did this summer.” “Tell me about your family”) Then, put children in circle and allow each child to choose a question to ask the child on her right.
Classmate Scavenger Hunt
Provide each student with two index cards. Ask each student to write a brief description of his or her physical characteristics on one index card and his or her name on the other. Put all the physical characteristic index cards in a basket, mix them up, and distribute one card to each student, making sure that no student gets his or her own card. Give students ten minutes to search for the person who fits the description on the card they hold. There is no talking during this activity, but students can walk around the room. At the end of the activity, tell students to write on the card the name of the student who best matches the description. Then have students share their results. How many students guessed correctly?
Hear the word: Luke 4:13-30 (Younger classes may want to use one of our storybook Bibles, on “Reference shelf” in library area.
Learning Objectives: As we read snatches of Scripture, it is easy to get confused about why Jesus came to be with us. But Jesus was very clear about his mission. Today, we want our children to walk away from Sunday School with a clear sense of Jesus’ mission.
(1.) Children will summarize Luke 4:18-19 in their own words, stating Jesus’ own reason to be with humanity. Younger classes may need to work hard to thing through what Jesus means when he said that he came to, “let the oppressed go free.” Encourage kids to think of themselves (as well as others) as oppressed, captive, poor. Remember that Mary, Jesus’ mother, called herself poor.
(2.) Children will reflect on the Nazareans’ angry reaction to Jesus. Why do you think the Nazareans became angry? What might have been challenging, hopeful, scary about Jesus’ mission? What do you find hopeful, scary, challenging in Jesus’ mission?
Respond to the word: Choose one or two of the following activities.
(1.) “What will you be when you grow up?” Sometimes, we’re asked this, and we’re not sure what to say. (Or maybe we have lots of answers.) In today’s story, Jesus is returning to his hometown to share about what God has called him to do. Jesus was an adult when he went back to the synagogue where he had grown up. He knew everyone was curious about what he was doing and saying. Take turns sharing what you might like to do and be as an adult. Now take time to talk about what Jesus was preparing to do and be. Was Jesus getting ready to do the sorts of things we might expect a great king, the God of the universe to do with us? Why do you suppose God sent Jesus to bring “good news to the poor….proclaim release to the captives…?”
(2.) Line by line / scene by scene: Read Luke 4:18-19 line by line. Split up into groups and assign each group a line. Have the group write their line on a sentence strip (in supply closet; teacher can do this for younger groups), and ask each group to illustrate their line. Then put the illustrations side by side to tell the story of why Jesus came to be with us.
(3.) “Jesus came to…” active game (Version of “red light / green light”): Line children up to play red light / green light. Explain that they should listen as you call out reasons why Jesus might have come. When you call out one of the reasons why Jesus came from today’s story, they should run forward (green light). When you call out other (silly) reasons, they should stay put. (Silly reasons might include, “Jesus came to make me happy. Jesus came to give me all the stuff I want. Jesus came to make sure that I never have to share.”) They must listen to recognize Jesus’ mission!
(4.) Paper chains: Ask members of your class to write one word of Luke 4:18-19 each on strips of paper, then have them string the strips together in the correct order to spell out the verse. Then, take paper strips and write down concrete examples of what Jesus meant when he said he was bringing “good news to the poor,” “release to the captives,” etc. See if you can get your chain to stretch all the way across the room. When you’re finished, invite the class to talk about why the Nazareans became so angry when Jesus claimed that the scripture was being fulfilled in him (see Luke 4:20-30). What is anger-provoking, frightening, hopeful about Jesus’ message.
(6.) Memory games (for older kids): Use this memory game with older kids.
Do you have other activity ideas?
Closing Prayer: take time to pray together, then join in the singing in the CE Commons.