The baptism of Jesus is so important to the question of who Jesus is and what kind of savior he is. Jesus’ public ministry begins with his baptism and the declaration of the voice from heaven, “this is my son, the beloved, with him I am well pleased.” In addition to the themes of baptism that are important for Jesus own ministry, baptism has immense significance for Christian Practice. In baptism we are buried with Christ in his death and raised again to new life. We are cleansed of our sins, made new, and welcomed into the family of God. Because baptism is so packed with significance and since we cannot focus on everything in one week, we will work with this story for a couple of weeks.
(1.) Students will be able to share the story of Jesus baptism in the Jordan in their own words.
(2.) Students will hear about and share what their own baptism means to them.
Gather: Remind your students of the Magi’s search for Jesus (if they are in the two youngest classes, remind them of their own search for Jesus on their journey last week). Explain that the same Jesus the Magi found grew up and was baptized by his family member John in the Jordan River. Jesus’ baptism is the beginning of his public ministry, a ministry that will ultimately lead him to the cross.
Hear the Word: You can read the story of Jesus’ baptism in Luke 3:21-22 or Matthew 3:13-17. Alternatively, you can share the story from The Jesus Storybook Bible which has details about John’s ministry and the baptism of Jesus in the story “Heaven Breaks Through” (200-7). The Children of God Storybook Bible shares the story under the title “God Blesses Jesus: Jesus is Baptized” (68).
Respond to the Word
(1.) Watercolor: Use our new watercolors (there is a watercolor palate available for each class. Please take the crayola washable sets for the 3+4 year old and K +1st grade classes) and watercolor paper to paint the scene from Matthew or Luke. Young student may want to paint just the water (blues and greens work very well). Older students may wish to include Jesus or the Spirit like a dove. Before painting you can use white crayons to write “You are my Son, the Beloved” so that when you paint over it, the words will show up. The story of Jesus baptism is the story of how some people came to know that Jesus was the Son of God. Talk about how Jesus identity was made known in his baptism.
(2.) Baptism of the Lord seashell craft: The Church has used shells as a symbol of baptism since the 12th century (though shells appear in art depicting baptism much earlier. Print small images of Jesus baptism (this, this, this, this, and this are all good options). Cut out the images and have students glue them onto a shell from the supply closet. Use a piece of twine to make a loop at the top of the shell. You may want to add a dove as well. Here is an example to get you started.
(3.) Marked with a cross: often when we are asked to remember our baptism, someone marks a cross on our forehead with water. We are invited to do this when we go to church (this is what the bowl at the end of the baptismal font is for). Show the students in your class how to mark their foreheads with the sign of the cross. Gather around in a circle and invite each child to mark the forehead of the student to their left. Talk about how Jesus’s public ministry began with baptism and led to the cross. Our own baptism is an invitation to share and participate in the ministry of Christ.
Alternatively, when you send your students out of the classroom this week, you may want to send this with this gesture and reminder to remember their baptism.
(4.) Water, water game. Talk to you students about the ways that things come to have symbolic meaning. For example, water can be dangerous because it can take a life, but it is also a sign of life because we need it to survive. Use common experiences with water to make connections between the symbolic meaning of water and baptism. Here is how to play: Split up into two groups. Give each group 2 minutes to think of as many uses/experiences with water as possible (waterpark, bath, washing hands, etc.). Compare lists and give each team a point for each item, subtracting a point for those items on the other team’s list.) Then, in 2 minutes, make a list of as many Bible Stories as you can with water included. Have a conversation about what water means to you as a person. What particular symbolism does water have for the Church?
(5.) Baptismal Art: If you would like, we have a book in the Christian Education cabinet which uses classical art to tell the story of Jesus’ life. There are several pieces under the title “the baptism of Jesus” that your class might enjoy looking at or talking about. You may also want to have a conversation about one of the two pieces included below. Ask you class what about the images is similar to or different from the Scripture passage? What do each of the images make you feel about Jesus’ baptism? Do you think Jesus’ baptism was an exciting or ordinary kind of occurrence? How do you think those who were present at Jesus baptism felt about it? What would it be like to hear a voice coming from heaven?
Close in Prayer