John the baptizer was surprised that Jesus wanted to be baptized. John recognized that Jesus was the Messiah who would take away the sins of the world and it was dramatically confirmed when the Holy Spirit came down on him and the Father spoke from heaven! The baptism of Jesus demonstrated that Jesus was going to redefine what it meant to be cleansed from sin.
“Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” – John 1.29
Lesson Intro (Water)
Supplies: Bottle of Water
Hold up the bottle of water and ask the kids what it is. Say to them, “What are some of the things that we do with water?” (Drink it, bath/wash with it). Next, ask them if they can think of any stories in the Bible that have to do with water? What is the story with the most water, where the earth is totally covered in water? (The Flood). That’s right, God tried to wash the world free of sin with a flood! Another story that features a lot of water is Moses parting the Red Sea. God led the Israelites through the waters of the Red Sea to free them from slavery!
Today’s story also has to do with water. It’s about Jesus going to be baptized!
[For the 4-5s you could simply use Katherine Sully’s “The Baptism of Jesus” (QED)]
We’re going to be reading from Matthew 3, but before we begin, can anyone tell me who John the Baptizer was? (John was Jesus’ cousin and he was a prophet. He wore camel skins and he lived out in the wilderness and ate locusts and wild honey.) He told people to stop doing bad things; to stop cheating each other, and stop being selfish. To show that they were serious about being good and turning away from sin, people would come to John and he would dunk them in the river to show that they wanted to be clean. Do you think that water can clean us of our sins? If you take a bath does it help you to not be selfish or mean to your brother or sister? Not really, but getting baptized was a sign of repentance, which means turning away from your sins. One day John was talking to the people and he said to them:
“I baptize you with water, for repentance, but the one coming after me is more powerful than I am—I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Matt. 3.11
Who do you think he was talking about? Yes, he was talking about Jesus. John the baptizer knew that Jesus was very important and that Jesus would be able to do more for people’s sins than water. But then, one day something very surprising happened to John. Here’s the thing that surprised John:
… Jesus came from Galilee to John to be baptized by him in the Jordan River. Matt. 3.13
Why would Jesus do that? He didn’t have to repent of anything because he was perfect! I wonder what John will do?
But John tried to prevent him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you come to me?” So Jesus replied to him, “Let it happen now, for it is right for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John yielded to him. Matt. 3.14-15
I think that Jesus was saying to him that he was going to make a way for everybody to be perfectly washed clean of their sins. So, John baptized Jesus!
After Jesus was baptized, just as he was coming up out of the water, the heavens opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my one dear Son; in him I take great delight.” Matt. 3.16-17
Wow, that is so awesome! The Holy Spirit came and rested on Jesus in the form of a dove and God the Father told everyone that Jesus was his Son. Then John knew for sure that Jesus was the Messiah who was to save everyone from their sins!
Another time that John saw Jesus he said:
“Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one about whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who is greater than I am, because he existed before me.’” John 1.29,30
I hope that each of you do your best to be good, because that honors God. It’s sad when people are controlled by sin. Repentance is really important. We have to remember though that true repentance happens when we’re washed clean on the inside. When we invite Jesus into hearts and trust him he gives us forgiveness for our sin. We know that we can trust Jesus as our Lord and Savior because he lived the perfect life and he made a way for us to be free from our sins!
Jesus also wants his followers to be baptized, but as a sign of their trust in him. It’s a way of showing that we trust that Jesus is Lord and that he has freed us from sin! Most people wait until they’re grown-up before they get baptized but you definitely don’t have to wait until you’re a grown-up to put your faith in Jesus.
Prayer: Thank Jesus that he came to make a way for us to be truly clean and free from sin. Pray that each of the children learn to trust Jesus completely.
Where was John baptizing people? (Jordan River)
Why was he baptizing people? (As a sign of repentance)
What took John by surprize? (That Jesus, who was sinless wanted to be baptized)
What happened when Jesus got baptized? (The Holy Spirit came down on him like a dove and God spoke from heaven, saying: “This is my son in whom I am well pleased”)
What does it mean to trust Jesus to wash away your sin? (Believing in him, coming to him for forgiveness, following him).
Supplies: Marker and whiteboard.
What to do: Play hangman with the kids using some of the keywords from the story of the baptism of Jesus.
Scripture quoted by permission. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2016 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved.
Image Credit: The Baptism of Christ, 1515 – Joachim Patinir