Unit 21, Session 5: Jesus and Zacchaeus

Dear Parents,

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.

Check this session’s Activity Page as well as the Gospel Project for Kids Family App for ways to interact with the Bible content this week.

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)

Unit 21, Session 4: Jesus Rejected in Nazareth

Dear Parents,

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.

Check this session’s Activity Page as well as the Gospel Project for Kids Family App for ways to interact with the Bible content this week.

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)

Unit 21, Session 3: Jesus Met a Samaritan Woman

Dear Parents,

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.

Check this session’s Activity Page as well as the Gospel Project for Kids Family App for ways to interact with the Bible content this week.

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)

Unit 21, Session 2: Jesus and John the Baptist

Dear Parents,

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.

Check this session’s Activity Page as well as the Gospel Project for Kids Family App for ways to interact with the Bible content this week.

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)

Unit 21, Session 1: Jesus Met Nicodemus

Dear Parents,

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.

Check this session’s Activity Page as well as the Gospel Project for Kids Family App for ways to interact with the Bible content this week.

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)

Unit 19, Session 6: Jesus Was Tempted

Dear Parents,

After Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit led Him into the wilderness. Jesus fasted for 40 days, and He was hungry. There in the wilderness, the Devil, who is the agent of temptation and father of lies, appeared to Jesus. The Devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

If You are the Son of God? The Devil knew who Jesus is. He challenged Jesus to prove it. The Devil wanted to ruin God’s plan of redemption which was set in motion in Genesis 3. In the garden of Eden, Satan used a seemingly innocent question to arouse doubt in Eve: “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden’?” (Gen. 3:1). Adam and Eve ate the fruit God had forbidden them to eat, and sin entered the world.

Jesus came to reverse the curse, to succeed where Adam failed. The Devil’s aim was to use a similar trick as in Eden to get Jesus to sin, to disqualify Him from the role of sinless Savior.

The Devil targeted Jesus in His weakness. He tempted Jesus to turn stones into bread, to put Himself in danger, and to worship him as a way to fulfill Jesus’ mission without going to the cross. “Go away, Satan!” Jesus replied.

Jesus was tempted, but He trusted God and never sinned. Jesus is perfect and righteous. A perfect sacrifice was required to take away sin. Jesus was that perfect sacrifice. He died on the cross to free us from sin and to give us the power to say no to temptation.

The writer of Hebrews said that Jesus, our High Priest, can sympathize with our weaknesses because He was tested in every way we are, yet He never sinned. Jesus’ actions are an example for believers, but what happens when we do give in to temptation?

Emphasize to your kids that we can boldly approach God’s throne to receive grace to help us through temptation, and mercy and forgiveness when we sin (See Heb. 4:14-16.) We have hope because Christ died for sinners.

Check this session’s Activity Page as well as the Gospel Project for Kids Family App for ways to interact with the Bible content this week.

FAMILY STARTING POINTS

Babies and Toddlers

Jesus is God’s Son.

Jesus was tempted in the wilderness.

Jesus always obeyed God’s words.

God sent Jesus because He loves us.

Preschool

What makes Jesus different? Jesus is God’s One and Only Son.

Jesus was tempted.

Kids

What makes Jesus different? Jesus is fully God and fully man.

Jesus was tempted and never sinned.

UNIT KEY PASSAGE: 1 Timothy 1:15

NEXT WEEK
“Jesus Met Nicodemus” ( John 3:1-21)