Welcome to the Temple

Scripture: Matthew 2:13-23 and Luke 2:21-40

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will learn what the inside of the Temple looked like and how the various items in the Temple were used during Jesus’ time.
  • Students will participate in an activity helping them better understand the Temple and its functions.

Guiding Question: What was the Temple like during the life of Jesus?

Materials: materials for replicating Herod’s temple and the priestly garments: wash basin, candlesticks, cooked meat, fabric to divide the different courts, purple priest’s robe, breastplate of judgement with 12 gemstones, pouch for Urim and Thummim, turban, ephod (sleeveless garment).

Procedure: Before students arrive, set up a room to simulate Herod’s Temple. Be sure to include key components such as a veil for the Holy of Holies, wash basin, showbread, candlesticks, sacrifice. Include cooked meat and to make it a more memorable sensory experience. Note that the Ark of the Covenant is not in the Holy of Holies during Jesus’ time. Have a teacher dress as a first century guide and pretend to give the students a tour. Meanwhile have other actors pretend to carry out the priestly duties. The guide can review the story as though it were a recent event. Review the story of Jesus’ family fleeing to Egypt and then Nazareth to escape King Herod and Archelaus. Emphasize Anna and Simeon meeting Jesus and the two doves that Joseph and Mary sacrificed. Outline where the different courts would have been including the court of women/ outer court where Anna would have been permitted. Give students a real life experience by encouraging students to walk through, but stop girls at the Court of Women, and do not allow anyone into the Holy of Holies. After the “tour,” let students smell, touch and listen to the items/stories and wash their hands in the basin.

Additional Questions:

  • What was the purpose of the Temple?
  • How did Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection change our need for a temple?

Supplemental Activity: Have students research the history, similarities and differences between the Solomon’s Temple and Herod’s Temple. Students can choose a format for presenting their research: compare and contrast essay, draw diagrams, build replicas, etc.