“Jesus the Messiah”: Preschool & Kids Leader Training for Unit 19, Session 4—Jesus Was Dedicated
One important truth about the Messiah, a truth that many in Israel missed, was that He would be provided for all humanity. Jesus did not come to be the Savior just for Israel, or just for the religious, or just for males, or just for the wealthy. He came to be the Savior of all who call on Him in faith.
This is what God told of in many places.
I will bless those who bless you, I will curse anyone who treats you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you. (Genesis 12:3 CSB) emphasis added
May God be gracious to us and bless us; may he make his face shine upon us Selah so that your way may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations. (Psalms 67:1-2 CSB) emphasis added
And now, says the Lord, who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him so that Israel might be gathered to him; for I am honored in the sight of the Lord, and my God is my strength — he says, “It is not enough for you to be my servant raising up the tribes of Jacob and restoring the protected ones of Israel. I will also make you a light for the nations, to be my salvation to the ends of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:5-6 CSB) emphasis added
Beyond these passages, we see God’s heart for the nations in so many other places in Scripture. We see it in how he had His prophets, notably Elisha, minister to Gentiles. We see it in Him sending Jonah to Nineveh to call on Israel’s enemy to repent. And we see it in how God used Gentiles (e.g. Rahab and Ruth) as part of the family line of Jesus.
The Significances of the Early Encounters
As you know, The Gospel Project is all about not reading the Bible primarily as isolated stories, but one complete story. We need to apply that thinking at all times, including the birth account of Jesus. It is best that we do not see the birth of Jesus as isolated vignettes, but rather as one cohesive story. When we do this, it will help us see the significance of the early encounters people had with Jesus as a baby and toddler.
Think of who encountered Jesus. First, it was the shepherds. The shepherds were Jews, but were likely poorer and outcasts of society. Shepherding was not exactly a clean profession, and it was rather isolated work, so it is easy to figure out why shepherds were not invited to too many parties. They might not have been the cleanest, best smelling guys around and even if they were, no one would have known them!
Then there are the two people we encounter here at Jesus’ dedication: Simeon and Anna. These two were among Israel’s religious faithful. Here we see faithful Jews who took God’s promises seriously, expected God to fulfill them, and delighted when He did.
Them there were the wise men, or the magi. These were Gentiles, likely wealthy astrologers who lived somewhere around Persia.
There is one other person who encountered Jesus during this time that we can easily overlook: Herod. While Herod never laid eyes on Jesus, he wanted to—not to worship Him as these others did, but to kill Him.
Do you see God’s point here? Notice how men and women, poor and wealthy, Jews and Gentiles all were part of Jesus’ introduction into the world. Jesus is truly the Savior of all who call on Him.
But Jesus would not be the Savior of everyone. Not all would trust in Him. Some (most) would reject Him (see John 1). Herod represents this group, a group that continues throughout the Gospels—the religious leaders, the affluent, the political savvy. While not everyone in this group rejected Jesus (see Nicodemus), most did.
Good News for Our Kids
As you lead your kids this week, be sure to drive this point home to them: that Jesus is the Savior of all people. He is the Savior of anyone, and everyone, who trusts in Him. Male or female. Rich or poor. Young or old. People from every nation, tribe, tongue, and ethnicity.
This is a beautiful truth that some of your kid will need to hear so that they might come to trust in Jesus, but for some others, it might be what motivates them to live sent for Jesus. To develop a burden and a passion for telling others—all others—about Jesus.
For all have the same need for salvation in order that they might be delivered from death and sin. Even the observation of the law does not prevail in delivering from sin and death. It is only by this Savior that all salvation is prepared.” — Thomas Becon (c. 1512-1567)Thomas Becon, The Sermon of Simeon in the Temple, quoted in Luke, ed. Beth Kreitzer, vol. 3 in Reformation Commentary on Scripture: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2015) [Wordsearch].
Tips for Teaching this Week’s Session
Every week, Karen Jones and I offer guidance to help you as you prepare to teach every session of The Gospel Project for Preschool and Kids. Listen in as we discuss:
- The big idea of the session
- Any areas of caution or requiring additional prep time
- What we hope God will do through this session
This training is available on Ministry Grid, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and other podcast platforms.