While visiting the temple in Jerusalem at age twelve, Jesus became separated from his parents and was inadvertently left behind. Upon returning to Jerusalem three days later, his worried parents found him at the temple listening to the teachers and amazing those around him with his understanding.
Scripture References: Luke 2:40-52
Suggested Emphasis: As Jesus grew, he continued to develop mentally (wisdom), physically (stature), socially (favour with men), and spiritually (favour with God.) We should also grow in these areas.
Group Share Time
Attach a long thin strip of paper to the wall. Mark off measurements in feet and inches or centimetres. In your family or as others arrive measure each and mark the heights on the paper. As children arrive measure them and mark their heights on the paper. Show them how they are taller than children younger than them. Point out how much they will probably grow by the time they reach the age of the older children or adults you have measured.
You could do the same thing with scales and weigh everyone but adults might revolt!
Use this activity to encourage the group to begin talking about other ways in which we grow. We grow in how much we learn and how much we know. We grow in our understanding of God and Jesus. We grow in the way we get along with other people.
Jesus was a baby but then he grew. Today we are going to learn about something that happened to Jesus when he was twelve years old.
Story from the Bible
An adult or young reader can read the words below as the slides are shown.
- Cover:Boy Jesus Visits the Temple (Luke 2:40-52)
- When Jesus was a little boy his family moved to the town of Nazareth. Jesus grew up doing the things that little boys do. He played games with his friends and he went to school. Joseph was a carpenter so Jesu learned how to help him make things from wood.
- Every year Jesus travelled to Jerusalem to attend the Passover Feast. This was a religious holiday and a special ceremony. Joseph always took part in the celebration. Jesus knew that someday he would be a grown man like Joseph. Someday he would go to Jerusalem and visit the temple where the teachers were.
- Finally, the time had come. Jesus was twelve years old. This meant that he could go to the temple and take part in the Passover Feast like the other men.
Jesus and his family travelled all the way to Jerusalem. It took many days to get there. Sometimes there were robbers on the roads so Jesus’ family travelled along with lots of other families to be safe. Jesus probably liked walking with his friends and cousins. He might have played games and talked with them as they walked along the way to Jerusalem.
- Joseph and Mary would have seen many of their friends in Jerusalem to. It was a beautiful city and everyone was there to worship God.
After the festivities it was time to go back home to Nazareth.
- But as they headed home Joseph and Mary began to notice someone was missing. At first they probably thought he was walking with his friends because they had been travelling a whole day when they finally realised he was not there. After looking everywhere, they knew that he must still be back in Jerusalem.
Where was their son, Jesus? They searched for him and finally found him. Can you guess where Jesus was?
- Joseph and Mary found Jesus in the temple courts. He was with the teachers of the Law and he was asking them questions. It seems Jesus had enjoyed learning and listening so much that he had stayed to hear more. Everyone there was amazed at how much this boy understood God’s word.
- Mary told Jesus they had been searching and searching. She wanted to know why he was still there at the temple. Jesus surprised them with his answer. “Why were you searching for me?” he asked, “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” Jesus knew that God was his father and that the temple was God’s special house.
- When Mary and Joseph heard this they knew that Jesus was growing up. They knew that it would not be long before he was a man. But he was not a man yet! He was only twelve years old.
- Jesus travelled back to Nazareth and he obeyed his parents in everything they said. Jesus helped the family and was a good son.
- Jesus worked along with Joseph and learned to be a carpenter. He made his mother and Joseph very happy.
- Jesus was indeed growing but not just in his body. Jesus grew in four ways: 1) He grew in wisdom. That meant that he learned things at school and from studying. 2) He grew physically. That means he ate good food and exercised so he could grow big and strong. 3) He grew spiritually. That means in the way he knew and loved God. 4) He grew socially. That means he learned how to make friends and how to treat people nicely.
Jesus grew in all of these ways because he knew that someday he would do a special job for God.
Verse(s) to Think About
“Jesus continued to learn more and more and to grow physically. People liked him, and he pleased God.” Luke 2:52 (ICB)
“But you should continue following the teachings that you learned. You know that these teachings are true. And you know you can trust those who taught you. You have known the Holy Scriptures since you were a child. The Scriptures are able to make you wise. And that wisdom leads to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 3:14-15 (ICB)
“We will speak the truth with love. We will grow up in every way to be like Christ, who is the head. The whole body depends on Christ. And all the parts of the body are joined and held together. Each part of the body does its own work. And this makes the whole body grow and be strong with love.” Ephesians 4:15-16 (ICB)
“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Glory be to him now and forever! Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18 (ICB)
Choose Activities and Learn Together
Select activities that suit your family or group. Consider ages and abilities and how to involve everyone present in at least one of the activities.
- AT HOME Search closets or drawers and find something that used to fit but no longer does. For children this means they have grown. For adults this may be a good or bad activity 🙂 Talk about how our bodies grow and mature and compare this to how our spiritual life also grows and matures.
- EXPLORE: List all of the different types of chores Jesus might have done as a child. Compare that with the chores your students do.
- EXPLORE: Show these video recreations of the temple. Preview them to make sure they are appropriate for your group:
- EXPLORE: Use Google Maps or a Bible atlas to trace Jesus’ trip from Nazareth to Jerusalem.
- IN THE WORD: Talk about what life is like for a 12 year old. How might life be different now and in Jesus’ time? How does Proverbs 22:6 relate to Jesus’ childhood?
- IN THE WORD: For deeper study read Matthew 22:36-40 and then talk about how these relate to:
- IN THE WORD: Use a fun memory verse method to memorise 2 Peter 3:18.
- GAME/ACTIVITY: Play “hangman” using words from the story.
- CREATIVE: Draw a growth chart for Jesus from infancy to adulthood.
- LIFE APPLICATION: If you have done the opening activity in measuring heights then add another paper alongside it recording growth in other ways. Record on the paper various skills and attitudes individuals in the group have matured in. For example, at the bottom of paper write “used to get angry and say mean things”. Then, higher on the paper write “started keeping my anger under control”. Then on the highest level write “learned to say encouraging words to people even though I don’t agree with them.”
- LITTLE ONES: For younger children hide a picture of Jesus and play “hide and seek” and search for Jesus.
- FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Any snack but decorate the table with measuring tape, rulers and/or growth charts. For more excitement blindfold a volunteer and serve them a variety of baby foods and let them guess the flavour. Talk about how we grow and mature and don’t eat baby food any more.
Singing does not have to be a performance. Don’t take yourself too seriously. In the privacy of your own home or within a small group allow yourself to just be genuine and enjoy the experience together.
Singing songs yourself is more reliable than viewing them online. If you are viewing published videos online on forums such as YouTube be sure and preview them first to make sure there are not unhelpful advertisements. To avoid long pauses due to internet speed issues play the song through once before you begin and then hold it paused and ready to go at the beginning of the song.
- Read Your Bible Pray Every Day
- Crayon Song
- I am a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N (Song)
- Growin’ Up in the Lord (Song video on YouTube by Acapella)
- More songs to choose from
Additional Mission Bible Class Resources
- Instructions for Family Bible Time and Intergenerational Groups here.
- More teacher information and additional ideas for today’s lesson here.
- How to Plan a Bible Class for Children
- How to Teach Children at Various Ages
- Ideas for Teachers
- Songs for Bible Class
- Praying With Children
- Movement and Dance
Scriptures quoted from the International Children’s Bible®, copyright ©1986, 1988, 1999, 2015 by Tommy Nelson. Used by permission.