Growing Like Jesus

Scripture: Luke 2:41-52

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will learn Jesus knew how important God is from a very young age.
  • Students will learn Jesus was very familiar with God’s Words by the age of twelve.
  • Students will learn that God expects us to keep our godly promises.
  • Students will learn Jesus understood the most important thing in life is to serve God.

Guiding Question: What do we need to do so we can grow up in ways that make God happy like Jesus did?

Materials: several 24 piece puzzles (see procedure for preparation needed before class)

Procedure: Review the story of Jesus at the Temple as a boy. Explain that for Jewish boys at the time, they were supposed to start taking personal responsibility for their own spiritual life beginning at the age of twelve. This would have been probably the first time Jesus went to the Temple for a feast where he was responsible for taking care of his own religious obligations. It’s probably not surprising Jesus took advantage of the opportunity to talk with the most “famous” religious teachers in Jerusalem.

Tell students that a large part of taking responsibility for your own spiritual growth and health is realizing you are not a victim. God has empowered them to be able to rise above any problems in their world and continue to learn and grow. Explain to students that the Jews were under the harsh rule of the Roman Empire when Jesus was alive. Many probably saw themselves as victims of Rome since they had many hardships like ridiculous taxes, forced labor and more. Yet, Jesus knew the real power was with God not the Romans. He was empowered by God – just like your students – to do the things necessary to learn and grow spiritually.

Share the following tips with students for escaping a victim mentality and becoming empowered to learn and grow spiritually – no matter your circumstances:

God is all-powerful and in control – even when it doesn’t seem like it.
Memorize scriptures to remind you God is with you.
Learn how to analyze your problems. You need to name the parts of the problem you can control, the parts you can’t control and every option you have to do something to help solve the problem.
After something bad happens, allow yourself some time to feel your negative emotions. As time passes, try to move away from those emotions to gratitude and forgiveness.
Start by assuming the other person did not mean to hurt or upset you.
Use kind words to state your boundaries and to express your emotions. You should never try to get revenge or use ugly words to express what you feel or want.
Learn how to love your enemies.

Divide the students into groups. Explain that they will each be given the pieces to a puzzle. When you tell them to begin, they need to turn the puzzle pieces over so they cannot see the picture, but the backs of the puzzle pieces. Each piece has a character trait written on the back of it. Some are character traits God wants us to have and some are character traits that are important to the world, but not to God. They are to choose only the puzzle pieces with godly character traits on them to complete the puzzle (still working from the back and not the picture side).

As teams work, or after they complete the puzzle, discuss the character traits they found on the puzzle pieces. Have them share how they decided whether a trait was one God wanted them to have or one the world values. If time allows, share some of the Bible verses for each trait with students.

Note: Each group should be given one 24-piece puzzle. On the back of each piece, write one of the godly character traits listed below. Place the pieces in a plastic bag with no picture of the completed puzzle. Take 8 pieces from a different 24-piece puzzle and write the character traits valued by the world listed below. Add these pieces to the previous bag. Each group will now have 32 puzzle pieces in their bag – 24 pieces to complete their puzzle and eight random other pieces which are the same size, but won’t fit into the finished puzzle. A scripture is provided for each godly character trait, although most have multiple scriptures that would apply.

Kindness – Ephesians 4:32
Integrity – Proverbs 10:9
Wisdom – James 1:5
Discernment – Hebrews 5:14
Faithfulness – Romans 10:17
Obedience – John 14:15
Goodness (Virtue) – Romans 12:9
Commitment – Luke 9:62
Forgiveness – Mark 11:25
Patience – Galatians 6:9
Stewardship – 1 Peter 4:10
Contentment – Philippians 4:11-12
Peace Maker – Matthew 5:9
Self-control – Galatians 5:24-25
Generosity – Acts 20:35
Responsibility – Colossians 3:23
Love – 1 Corinthians 13:3
Courage – Psalm 27:14
Gentleness – Titus 3:2
Encouragement – Hebrews 10:25
Joyfulness – Proverbs 17:22
Gratefulness – 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Creativity – Proverbs 22:29
Humility – Philippians 2:3-4

Character Traits Valued by the World

Additional Questions:

  • How does having these Godly character traits actually make your relationships with others more enjoyably?
  • Why do you think that the world values the traits that it does? Do you value some of the same things? What can you do to change these values?
  • What are some other Bible verses that could be used in the puzzle?

Supplemental Activity: Have students create their own puzzles to take home to remind them of character traits they want to better develop in themselves. You can search “puzzles templates” online for blank puzzle pieces that students can cut apart and write on. Give each student a puzzle template. Then can color one side of the puzzle. Then cut out the pieces. On the back of the pieces, they can write their traits and verses.

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