Focus Passage: Luke 4: 14-21
Memory Verse: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.”
Items for Preparation
- Print a photo of a Torah scroll from online, or have one ready to display on your mobile device. If you have access to a Hebrew Bible, and can display the Hebrew print of Isaiah which Jesus reads from in this passage, that’s fun to show children as well.
Gather some items that demonstrate the mission work your church does, such as Monopoly houses to represent Habitat Houses, towels and soap to represent a homeless shelter, cans of food, a bit of money, a box of “medicine” and a pair of glasses. You can arrange these in a box or on a tray so kids can see them well.
Read the adult lesson in Nurturing Faith Baptists Today, and additional material online. If you do want to get laughed or chased out of town, then you can discuss how difficult it would be for a person in this church to be thought of as a prophet. But we don’t have to go there! We can teach kids what it means to have the Lord’s Spirit upon you, what it meant for Jesus, and what it can mean for them.
Say: We heard the story of Jesus’ baptism, and you remember how he felt the Spirit of God coming down to him, like a dove floats down gently and perches on the branch of a tree. Jesus could feel the Spirit of God right there with him.
[Display your image of the Torah.]
Say: Now he is back in his hometown of Nazareth, worshipping at the synagogue. A synagogue is the worship place for Jewish people, like our church is our Baptist worship place. Jesus was a very good Jewish student and teacher, and a good worshipper of God. He could read the Torah scroll, which is the law of Moses, and the reading of the holy scripture was a traditional part of Jewish worship. It’s a part of our worship, too, to read from the Holy Scripture, the Bible.
[Now pass around the Hebrew Bible if you have one, and let kids see the print. Note that it is read right to left, rather than left to right, and also opens from “the back.” You have taught this before, so see if anybody remembers.]
Say: Then Jesus read from a part of Isaiah that says the exact same thing as when he was baptized: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.” What do you think that means? Can you look in the box [or tray] I have and see anything that helps us know what that meant when Jesus read it from Isaiah? [Allow for answers.]
Say: I think somebody who is hungry and doesn’t have the money to buy food would hear Jesus read that and think that maybe he and his friends might bring something good to eat.
Say: And the next verse he read from Isaiah was “The Lord has sent me to proclaim release to the captives.” What do you think that means? [Allow for answers.] Maybe when we visit people who are in prison, or when we help build a home to people who are stuck with no place to live, or when we forgive somebody instead of keeping them stuck with our anger?
Say: And next he read, “The Lord has sent me to bring recovery of sight to the blind.” Maybe when we help pay for people to have the doctor visits they need, or have the money to get a new pair of glasses, so they can get better? Could he mean that?
Say: And next he read “The Lord has sent me to let the oppressed go free.” Do you think that could mean he’s going to give understanding, forgiveness and love to people, instead of refusing to understand or being hard on people, or not forgiving them?
Say: And last he read, “The Lord has sent me to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” What about that? [Allow for answers.] I wonder if that means that, as we begin a new year, we can feel good about getting a new start? We can be sure that God loves us, and that we always have a new year ahead, and a new chance to spend our days being Jesus-followers, so that all these things Jesus read can be true for more people? Jesus said to the people at the synagogue, “Today, this scripture I read has come true, right here, right now, right in front of you.” So today, let’s start fresh being Jesus-followers, so that the scripture keeps being true for people all around us.
Prayer: Say these words after I say them.
O God of All Years,
We ask your blessing on the world
And all people in it
As we begin a new year.
Let it be a year of your favor
And use us as good Jesus-followers
In Jesus’ name, Amen.