Sunday Morning 07/02 (Unit 22, Session 2: The Unmerciful Servant)

Jesus had been teaching His disciples when Peter asked Jesus, “How many times should I forgive my brother when he sins against me?” Peter suggested seven times. Jews considered it standard to show forgiveness three times (see Job 33:29-30), so Peter probably thought he was going above and beyond. Jesus answered Peter’s question by telling a story about an unmerciful servant.

In the parable, a servant owed his master ten thousand talents. A talent was equal to about 20 years of wages. Ten thousand talents represented a debt that could never be repaid. Faced with debtors’ prison, the servant begged for more time to repay the master. Instead, the master released his servant and forgave the great debt.

The same servant went out and confronted a man who owed him a hundred denarii—about 100 days of wages. The man begged for more time, but the servant refused and put the man in prison. When the master heard what happened, he was angry that the servant who had been forgiven a great debt did not show mercy to the man who owed a small debt. So the master put the man in prison until he could pay his debt. Jesus concluded the parable by explaining that God would react in the same way to anyone who does not forgive his brother.

We are like the servant, and God is like the master.

Nothing we do is enough to pay the debt we owe God and take away God’s punishment for our sin. Jesus came and died on the cross to pay for our sin and take the punishment we deserve. When we trust in Jesus, God forgives our sin completely. We can forgive others because God has greatly forgiven us.

As you talk with your kids, emphasize that God shows mercy to us so that we will show mercy to others—not just three times or seven times, but many, many times—not keeping count. We have been forgiven a great debt, so we can forgive others when they sin against us.

22.2.2

FAMILY STARTING POINTS

  • Babies and Toddlers
    • Jesus told stories about God.
    • Jesus told a story about forgiveness.
    • God forgives us through His Son, Jesus.
    • We forgive others because Jesus forgives us.
  • Preschool
    • Why did Jesus tell stories? Jesus told stories to teach people about God.
    • Jesus taught about God’s forgiveness.
  • Kids
    • Why did Jesus tell parables? Jesus told parables to teach people about God and His kingdom.
    • God shows mercy to us so that we will show mercy to others.

 UNIT KEY PASSAGE

  • Mark 6:34

 NEXT WEEK

  • “The Good Samaritan” (Luke 10:25-37)

 

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Sunday Morning 06/25 (Unit 22, Session 1: Parable of the Sower)

The Gospels record dozens of Jesus’ parables. A parable is a story Jesus told to help people understand the kingdom of God. Each parable taught a lesson and revealed secrets of God’s kingdom for those who would understand. (See Matt. 13:10-13.)

The parable of the sower would have resonated with those listening because they would have been familiar with the practice of sowing or planting seeds. But the parable had a deeper meaning. It contained a lesson about God’s Word and the responses of those who hear it.

In the parable, a sower’s seeds fell in four different places. Some of the seeds fell along the path, where they were eaten by birds. Other seeds fell on rocky ground. Those seeds had no roots, so they withered in the sun. Other seeds fell among thorns, and they were choked out. Other seeds fell on good soil, and they produced a crop—a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was planted.

After Jesus told the parable, He explained it to His disciples. The soil represents people’s hearts, and the seed is the word about God’s kingdom. The person whose heart is like the hard soil hears the good news about God, but he does not understand it or he rejects it. The person whose heart is like the rocky soil is quick to receive the truth, but when life gets hard, he falls away. The person whose heart is like the thorny soil cares more about the things of the world than the good news about God, and the seed cannot grow. The person whose heart is like the good soil hears the good news about God and receives it. He bears fruit, more than what was planted. In the life of a believer, the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) is evident.

Jesus is the Sower who shared the truth about God’s kingdom. His followers continue to share the truth today, and those who understand and accept the gospel become more like Jesus.

Still today, people respond to the gospel in various ways. Pray that God will give your kids receptive hearts so that they will hear, understand, and be changed by the good news about Jesus.

22.1.2

FAMILY STARTING POINTS

  • Babies and Toddlers
    • Jesus told stories about God.
    • Jesus told a story about the good news.
    • Jesus wants us to hear and believe the good news.
    • Jesus’ followers tell other people about Him.
  • Preschool
    • Why did Jesus tell stories? Jesus told stories to teach people about God.
    • Jesus taught that not all people will believe in Him.
  • Kids
    • Why did Jesus tell parables? Jesus told parables to teach people about God and His kingdom.
    • Not everyone who hears the gospel believes it.

 UNIT KEY PASSAGE

  • Mark 6:34

 NEXT WEEK

  • “The Unmerciful Servant” (Matthew 18:21-35)
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Sunday Morning 06/18 (Unit 21, Session 5: Jesus and Zacchaeus)

Zacchaeus lived in the town of Jericho. He was a chief tax collector. Zacchaeus’s job was to collect money from the Jews for the Roman government. Many people knew Zacchaeus, and many did not like him.

The Bible says that Zacchaeus was rich. Tax collectors often collected more money than necessary and kept the surplus for themselves. His greed and dishonesty led Zacchaeus to being looked down upon as a “sinner.” But Zacchaeus treasured his wealth more than his reputation.

Zacchaeus probably never imagined that his entire life would change in a single day. When Jesus came through Jericho, Zacchaeus wanted to see him. He couldn’t see over the crowds, so he climbed a sycamore tree and watched Jesus from a distance.

Imagine the crowd’s surprise when Jesus approached the tree and called out to Zacchaeus, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down because today I must stay at your house.”

Of all the people in Jericho, Jesus chose to visit Zacchaeus! The other people complained. What was Jesus thinking, going to stay with a sinner like Zacchaeus?

The story reveals that Zacchaeus’s encounter with Jesus changed him. He offered to give half of his possessions to the poor and pay back four times what he had cheated from others. Zacchaeus no longer treasured his wealth. He realized that Jesus offered something so much better. Jesus confirmed this evidence of a changed heart: “Today salvation has come to this house.”

Jesus came to seek and save the lost. He came after us—sinners who do not deserve Him—and He rescues us from sin. Jesus died on the cross for our sin, and He is glad when we repent and trust in Him.

People who encounter Jesus do not walk away unchanged. Pray that your kids encounter the real Jesus, the One who came into the world because we needed Him. Jesus came to seek and save the lost—people like Zacchaeus and people like us. “I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17). When we repent and trust in Jesus, He changes us.

21.5.2

FAMILY STARTING POINTS

  • Babies and Toddlers
    • Jesus is the Messiah.
    • People did not love Zacchaeus, but Jesus did.
    • Zacchaeus climbed a tree to see Jesus.
    • Jesus came to rescue us.
  • Preschool
    • Who did Jesus say He is? Jesus said He is God’s Son.
    • Jesus loved Zacchaeus.
  • Kids
    • Who did Jesus say He is? Jesus said He is the Messiah.
    • Meeting Jesus changed Zacchaeus forever.

 UNIT KEY PASSAGE

  • John 14:6

 NEXT WEEK

  • “Parable of the Sower” (Matthew 13:1-9,18-23)
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Sunday Morning 06/11 (Unit 21, Session 4: Jesus Rejected in Nazareth)

Jesus was about thirty years old when He began His ministry. After John baptized Jesus in the Jordan River, Jesus was tempted in the desert. Jesus traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover. Then, He headed north to Galilee. He went through the region of Samaria, stopping at Jacob’s well to talk to a Samaritan woman.

Jesus began teaching in the synagogues. He went to the town of Nazareth. Nazareth was a small village in the hills between the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean Sea. This was where Jesus grew up.

On the Sabbath day, Jesus went into the synagogue. He read aloud the words of the prophet Isaiah. (See Isa. 61:1-2.) Jesus sat down. Everyone’s eyes were on Him as He explained, “Today as you listen, this Scripture has been fulfilled.” What was Jesus saying? Jesus was saying, It’s Me. The words Jesus read were coming true. Some of the people might have remembered Jesus from His youth. They asked, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”

Jesus knew their thoughts; Jesus had performed miracles in Capernaum, and the people wanted Jesus to do miracles in His hometown too. Jesus reminded them of two Old Testament accounts. Many widows lived in Israel when the prophet Elijah was there, but God sent Elijah to help a widow in another country. And Elisha likely encountered Israelites who had leprosy, but he healed Naaman the Syrian.

Jesus wanted the people to understand that His miracles were an act of grace—a gift. No one deserves God’s grace, so God may show grace to whomever He pleases—even Gentiles. The people were angry. They drove Jesus away, intending to kill Him, but Jesus escaped through the crowd.

Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, the prophet Isaiah wrote about God’s plan to send a Messiah. He would bring good news and redeem people who were broken and hurting. Jesus read Isaiah’s words and told everyone who was listening that He is the promised Messiah.

Help your kids see that Jesus came to give sight to the blind and to set the captives free. He came preaching good news to all the people groups. Finally, the Messiah had come! Jesus was God’s plan to save sinners.

21.4.2

FAMILY STARTING POINTS

  • Babies and Toddlers
    • Jesus is the Messiah.
    • Jesus read Isaiah’s message in Nazareth.
    • God sent Him to preach good news.
    • God sent Jesus because He loves us.
  • Preschool
    • Who did Jesus say He is? Jesus said He is God’s Son.
    • Jesus said God’s Word is about Him.
  • Kids
    • Who did Jesus say He is? Jesus said He is the Messiah.
    • Jesus explained that the Scriptures tell about Him.

 UNIT KEY PASSAGE

  • John 14:6

 NEXT WEEK

  • “Jesus and Zacchaeus” (Luke 19:1-10)
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Sunday Morning 05/28 (Unit 21, Session 3: Jesus Met a Samaritan Woman)

At the time Jesus was on earth, the social food chain went like this: Jews don’t talk to Samaritans. The strife between the two groups stretched back hundreds of years, to the Babylonian exile.

When the Babylonians attacked Judah, they moved a large group of God’s people away from their homes. But some of the people—the poorest, sickest, least able to work—were left behind in the region that became known as Samaria. The exile lasted 70 years. During that time, those left in Samaria began to mingle with their neighbors to the north. They intermarried and practiced foreign customs. While the Samaritans still believed in God, they adapted their beliefs.

The Jews who returned home from Babylon to rebuild God’s temple in Jerusalem rejected this new way of life. They were dedicated to obeying and worshiping God, and they didn’t agree with the Samaritans’ practices. The Samaritans opposed the Jews’ efforts to reestablish their nation. In time, the Jews’ hate for the Samaritans grew—so much so, that a Jew traveling from Judea to Galilee would take a longer route to travel around Samaria rather than through it.

Jesus broke down barriers when He traveled to Galilee by way of Samaria. Even more surprising, Jesus stopped at a well around noon and asked a Samaritan woman for a drink. Jewish men did not speak to women in public.

But Jesus was kind to her, and He offered a gift—living water. The woman didn’t understand, but Jesus revealed His knowledge of her past. He even gave her a glimpse of the future. The Samaritan woman expected a Messiah to come and fix everything. Jesus said, “I am He.”

Jesus offered the woman something no one else could give her—living water. Jesus wasn’t talking about water that she could physically drink; Jesus was talking about the Holy Spirit who would satisfy her spiritual thirst. Jesus gives the Holy Spirit to those who come to Him by faith.

21.3.2

FAMILY STARTING POINTS

  • Babies and Toddlers
    • Jesus is the Messiah.
    • Jesus spoke to a Samaritan woman.
    • The woman told people to come and hear Jesus.
    • Many people believed Jesus is God’s Son.
  • Preschool
    • Who did Jesus say He is? Jesus said He is God’s Son.
    • Jesus told the Samaritan woman He is God’s Son.
  • Kids
    • Who did Jesus say He is? Jesus said He is the Messiah.
    • Jesus told the Samaritan woman He is the Messiah.

UNIT KEY PASSAGE

  • John 14:6

NEXT WEEK

  • “Jesus Rejected in Nazareth” (Luke 4:14-30)
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Sunday Morning 05/21 (Unit 21, Session 2: Jesus and John the Baptist)

Jesus went with His disciples into the countryside of Judea. He oversaw them as they baptized people. At the same time, people came to John, and he was baptizing them. These baptisms were an outward sign of cleansing for people who had repented of their sins.

Some of John’s disciples came to John. They had noticed that the disciples of the man John had reluctantly baptized were baptizing others. Perhaps they felt the need to defend John’s ministry, but John explained God’s purpose for his life. John had been chosen by God long before he was born to be a forerunner—one who prepares the way. (See Mal. 3:1; Isa. 40:3.)

John the Baptist understood who he was and who Jesus is. Consider these comparisons as John explained that Jesus was greater than John.

First, who were they? John was clear: “I am not the Messiah” (John 3:28). John was not the bridegroom, but the groom’s friend. Jesus is the bridegroom. (John 3:29)

Where did they come from? John was from the earth, and he belonged to the earth. Jesus comes from above and is above all. (John 3:31)

Next, what did they do? John said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” John was a witness to the Light. (John 1:7-8) He was a voice in the wilderness, and Jesus is the Word. (John 1:14,23) John baptized with water, but Jesus baptized with the Spirit. (John 1:33)

Finally, why were they here? John went before Jesus and rejoiced with Him. (John 3:28-29) Jesus came to give eternal life. (John 3:36)

John the Baptist had told people to get ready for Jesus, the promised Messiah. Now that Jesus was on earth, John’s mission was complete. John the Baptist joyfully stepped aside as Jesus began His earthly ministry.

21.2.2

FAMILY STARTING POINTS

  • Babies and Toddlers
    • Jesus is the Messiah.
    • John was not the Messiah.
    • John said Jesus is more important than him.
    • Jesus is the Son of God.
  • Preschool
    • Who did Jesus say He is? Jesus said He is God’s Son.
    • Jesus came from heaven to earth.
  • Kids
    • Who did Jesus say He is? Jesus said He is the Messiah.
    • Jesus came from heaven to earth.

 UNIT KEY PASSAGE

  • John 14:6

 NEXT WEEK

  • “Jesus Met a Samaritan Woman” (John 4:1-42)
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Sunday Morning 05/14 (Unit 21, Session 1: Jesus Met Nicodemus)

Jesus’ ministry had begun. His first miracle was at a wedding, turning water into wine. He cleansed the temple in Jerusalem and performed signs, and “many trusted in His name” (John 2:23). Jesus likely spent a large part of His day teaching. When the day was done, He spent time alone or with His disciples. One night, however, a man named Nicodemus approached Jesus.

Nicodemus was a Pharisee and a ruler of the Jews; that is, he was a religious leader who taught God’s law, and he was a member of the Sanhedrin—a Jewish governing body. Nicodemus was part of an exclusive group of apparently moral men. He held to the belief that if a person was a law-abiding Jew, he would be accepted by God. Jesus gave Nicodemus a lesson that would turn his belief system on its head.

Jesus was a carpenter (Mark 6:3), so the religious teachers likely assumed He didn’t know theology. But they had seen Jesus’ miraculous signs in Jerusalem. Nicodemus had to conclude, “You are a teacher come from God” (John 3:2).

Nicodemus initiated the conversation, but Jesus chose the subject. His words perplexed Nicodemus: “Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Jesus explained that spiritual birth is not unlike physical birth in that a person cannot do it himself. It is something that happens to him.

Jesus reminded Nicodemus of an Old Testament account, the disobedient Israelites and the bronze snake. The Israelites could not help themselves, but when they trusted in God and looked to the bronze snake lifted up on the pole, they were healed. (Num. 21:4-9)

Nicodemus needed new life—eternal life—but he could not do anything to earn it. Eternal life is a gift that comes only from God. God showed His love in this way: He sent His One and Only Son to save the world. Everyone who believes in Him will not perish but will have eternal life.

Emphasize with your kids that every person is born a sinner—spiritually dead and alienated from God. It is by God’s Spirit—not our own effort—that we are born again. We look to Christ and His finished work on the cross for our salvation.

21.1.2

FAMILY STARTING POINTS

  • Babies and Toddlers
    • Jesus is the Messiah.
    • Nicodemus went to see Jesus at night.
    • Jesus gives people life forever with God.
    • God sent Jesus to earth because He loves us.
  • Preschool
    • Who did Jesus say He is? Jesus said He is God’s Son.
    • Jesus told Nicodemus about God’s plan.
  • Kids
    • Who did Jesus say He is? Jesus said He is the Messiah.
    • Jesus told Nicodemus he must be born again.

 UNIT KEY PASSAGE

  • John 14:6

 NEXT WEEK

  • “Jesus and John the Baptist” (John 3:22-36)
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