One day Jesus will return and his kingdom will be revealed in it’s fullness. It will be a wonderful time of celebration for those who have trusted in Jesus, but the door will be closed for those who have refused to acknowledge him. Without Jesus it’s impossible to be ready. With him, and the empowering gift of the Holy Spirit, we can be ready, and have our lamps burning when he returns!
- God wants us to be prepared for the day of his return.
- Trusting in Jesus is the best way to be ready.
“Therefore stay alert, because you do not know the day or the hour.”
– Matt. 25.13 (NET)
If you’re doing this lesson as part of a series, then explain to the kids that each week you’re looking at a different parable that Jesus told. Explain that a parable is a story told to help people understand something about God’s kingdom. It’s often helpful to briefly review the previous week’s lesson.
Object Lesson (Gas in the tank)
Supplies: Gas can (not with gasoline or anything flammable in it).
Ask the kids if they have ever been on a long road trip. Hold up the gas can and ask if they know what the gas can is for. Explain that there are some places where there are no filling stations for hundreds of miles (you could share about the longest, most desolate road trip that you’ve been on – perhaps the Australian outback, or Death Valley, or the Sahara desert). In a situation like that it’s really important to make sure that you have enough gas to make it all the way through. You may even need to carry a gas can (Jerry Can) if your car’s fuel tank isn’t big enough. Sometimes when you drive those long roads you come across people stranded on the side of the road who weren’t prepared. Often they’re hoping that somebody will drive past who has extra gas for them. You can play up and dramatize how desperate they might be if they were stuck in the desert and nobody else had gasoline to share with them. In today’s parable Jesus speaks about being ready!
Read or act out the parable with the kids: Matt. 25.1-13 (for 4-5-year-olds you could use the Beginner Bible)
Having an actual oil lamp would be a great prop. As you read you could explain the following:
Virgins – young unmarried ladies, similar to bridesmaids at modern western wedding.
Went out to meet – Apparently it was customary for the groom to meet with the bride’s family and then be escorted to the wedding feast.
Trimmed their lamps – When your lamp has run out of oil you need to trim the wick to relight it.
Some of your oil – Having oil for their lamps was the same as having fuel for your car. Many commentators see the oil as a symbol of the Holy Spirit.
God wants us to know him and he wants to be our friend. He offers us his friendship and has made a way for all people to walk with him. A day will come when Jesus will return to make the world new for everyone who wants to be with him. When that day comes he’s going to throw a big party to celebrate. Everyone is invited to that party but we need to be ready for when that day comes.
Sometimes being ready means living in a way that we’re ready to show the love of Jesus in situations around us that are difficult. When someone is mean to you and you want to be mean back or hurt them, it’s good to be ready to love like Jesus and turn the other cheek.
Mostly though, Jesus wants to be your friend and savior. When the time comes for the big celebration of Jesus’ return one day, he wants you to be there! When you have a relationship with Jesus it means that you are empowered by the Holy Spirit. Even when we’re stranded on the side of the road, Jesus comes by with a big gas can ready to fill our tanks and take us home!
Prayer: Pray that we would be like the bridesmaids that were ready with oil in their lamps. Thank God for giving us his Holy Spirit to empower us to live more like him.
- What were the bridesmaids waiting for?
- What happened when the groom was delayed?
- How were some of them ready?
- How can we be ready for Jesus’ return?
Game (Wait for it … Drop!)*
Supplies: You will need a ruler or a strip of firm paper about 12″ long for each pair of kids.
Have the kids pair off. Give one of the kids in each pair a ruler or strip of paper, or similar object about 12″ long. The first child holds the object at chest height from the top. The second child stands ready to catch it between his/her thumb and forefinger, with their hand at the bottom of the object. Tell the first kid that he/she can release the object without warning. The second kid has to BE READY to catch it. Allow each child a turn. Use the object lesson to discuss being prepared to act at a moment’s notice.
* Game adapted from Sunday School Sources