*This plan is taken from “The Gospel Project for Kids” curriculum
Unit 21: Session 1—Jesus Met Nicodemus
Bible passage: John 3: 1-21
Main point: Jesus told Nicodemus he must be born again.
Key passage (Memory passage for the unit): John 14:6 “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Big picture question: Who did Jesus say He is? Jesus said He is the Messiah.
Session starter activity:
Riddled with questions:
Challenge your kids to answer the following riddles:
- When I see you, you see you too. What am I? (a mirror)
- I must get wet in order to dry, if you use me too often, I may start to cry. What am I? (a towel)
- The stronger I get, the less you see, but turn on a light and I will flee. What am I? (darkness)
- What starts with a T, is filled with T, and ends with a T? (a teapot)
- I cling to your heels when you walk or you run, but some kick me aside when their day is done. What am I? (shoes)
Riddles can be confusing but are often fun. In our Bible story today, we will learn about some things Jesus said that were confusing at first too.
Big picture question and Bible Timeline:
We have been learning about Jesus’ life and ministry. We learned that Jesus’ ancestors; His birth; Jesus growing up and being baptized, and going into the wilderness to be tempted. After Jesus returned from the wilderness, He began His public ministry which means that He began to teach people and perform miracles. Many people wanted to know about Jesus and see Him in action.
Today we will learn about one of the religious leaders Nicodemus who visited Jesus at night to see what Jesus would say about Himself. Some people will tell you that Jesus was just a man or that He was just a teacher. We know that’s not true because of what Jesus said about Himself in the Bible. Who did Jesus say He is? Jesus said He is the Messiah.
Tell the Bible Story: Read John 3: 1-21. **Try to have the kids find the passage on their own. If they have trouble, remind them that John is the last of the four Gospels.
Say: Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a religious leader for the Jewish people. Nicodemus visited Jesus at night so that no one would see. For the most part, the Pharisees did not like Jesus. They did not want to give up their control over people or admit that they were sinners too. Nicodemus was interested in what Jesus had to say about the kingdom of God, so he visited Jesus anyway.
While speaking with Jesus, Nicodemus learned something that confused him. Jesus told Nicodemus he must be born again. Nicodemus was an old man. He could not be born if he was already grown, could he?
Jesus wasn’t talking about physical birth. Jesus was talking about being born spiritually into God’s family. Jesus explained that anyone who was not born spiritually would not spend eternity with God. Then Jesus explained that God loves the whole world to the point that God sent Jesus, His one and only Son, to save the world. Jesus explained that only people who believe in Him will be saved. Jesus knew He had to come into the world to save sinners by dying on the cross.
Pharisees like Nicodemus believed that obeying all of God’s laws was the way to enter God’s kingdom. This was different from what Jesus taught. Jesus said that if Nicodemus trusted in Him, his sins would be forgiven. Even though Nicodemus and the other Pharisees spent lots of time studying and trying to obey God’s laws, they still needed someone to save them from their sins. Only Jesus can save people when they trust in Him. Who did Jesus say He is? Jesus said He is the Messiah. Jesus explained that He is God’s Son, sent to save everyone who believes in Him and repents of their sin.
We are like Nicodemus. We are sinners and cannot save ourselves. No amount of obedience can make up for the sin and disobedience in our hearts. We are born that way—broken and helpless. That’s why God sent Jesus. Jesus lived the perfect life we could not live and died on the cross for our sins. On the third day, God raised Jesus from the dead to show that His death was the perfect sacrifice to defeat sin. When we trust in Jesus for our salvation, God forgives us and the Holy Spirit makes our hearts come to life. We are “born again” into God’s family as new people free from the power of sin.
Bible Review Questions:
Read the following questions about the story.
- Who visited Jesus at night? (Nicodemus, John 3: 1-2)
- Who was Nicodemus? (He was a Pharisee, a religious leader, John 3:1)
- What did Jesus say must happen for a person to see the kingdom of God? (A person must be born again, John 3:3)
- What Old Testament story did Jesus talk about? (Moses and the bronze snake, John 3:14)
- How did God show His love for the whole world? (He gave His one and only Son, John 3:16)
- Everyone who believes in Jesus will have what? (eternal life, John 3: 16)
- Who did Jesus say He is? Jesus said He is the Messiah.
Key verse review:
Write each word of the key passage on a separate index card. Have the kid(s) work to put the verse in the correct order.
“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Print out the following crossword puzzle and enjoy!