After Jesus resisted temptation in the wilderness, He began His earthly ministry. As Jesus traveled throughout Judea, His personal encounters with ordinary people changed their lives in extraordinary ways. Jesus revealed that He was God the Son in human form, living among God’s people and bringing salvation to the world. Unit 21 of The Gospel Project for Kids examines five interactions Jesus had with others: Nicodemus, John the Baptist, a Samaritan woman, the Jews of Nazareth, and Zacchaeus.
When you teach the story of Jesus’ meeting with Nicodemus, emphasize the main point: Jesus told Nicodemus he must be born again. Help kids grasp the big picture of the Bible by answering these questions:
Who was Nicodemus?
Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a leader of the Jews. As a Jew, he would have been very careful to obey all the rules that God had given to Moses. Nicodemus would have spent a lot of time studying Scripture, praying, and making sacrifices. Jews thought God would accept them if they did the right things.
We know Nicodemus’ thinking was wrong. No one can obey perfectly; that’s why we need Jesus. Jesus came to earth and obeyed perfectly for us. He died on the cross to take the punishment we deserve for our sin. Jesus gave Nicodemus a lesson that would turn his belief system on its head.
What does it mean to be “born again”?
Jesus explained to Nicodemus that spiritual birth is not unlike physical birth in that a person cannot do it himself. It is something that happens to him. If kids lack an understanding of physical birth, compare other things they may relate to. For example, can a person make himself grow taller?
Ask kids what makes a person a Christian. Reading the Bible every day, going to church, or singing songs about Jesus doesn’t make someone a Christian. Explain that every person is born sinner and needs to be born again. We are physically alive; we breathe and move, but without Jesus we are spiritually dead and separated from God. It is by the Holy Spirit—not by anything we do ourselves—that we are born again.
How can we be born again?
Remind kids of the bronze snake in Numbers 21:4-9. When the disobedient Israelites were bitten by snakes, they could not heal themselves. But when they trusted in God and looked to the bronze snake lifted up on the pole, they were healed. Emphasize with kids that every person is born a sinner—spiritually dead and separated from God. It is by God’s Spirit—not our own effort—that we are born again. We cannot save ourselves. We trust in God and look to Jesus and His finished work on the cross for our salvation.
Tip for Preschool Leaders: Preschoolers will focus on the main point, Jesus told Nicodemus about God’s plan. Rather than focusing on the concept of being born again, help preschoolers understand that Nicodemus wanted life with God. He thought he could earn it by doing right things, but Jesus told Nicodemus about God’s plan. People cannot do anything to earn life with God. Eternal life is a gift. Everyone who believes receives God’s gift of eternal life through Jesus.
What questions do you think your kids might ask about being “born again”? Leave a comment below.
Here is more help for leaders preparing for the April 30, 2017 session (Unit 21, Session 1) of The Gospel Project for Kids.
Alyssa Jones has been a content editor for The Gospel Project for Kids since 2011. She lives with her husband, Nate, and their two kids in Nashville, TN. Alyssa volunteers with the kids’ ministry at Refuge Church, a church plant in Franklin, TN.