Scripture Reference: Matthew chapters 5-7
Suggested Emphasis: Emphasise the particular part of the sermon (Matthew 7:12) commonly referred to as the “Golden Rule”.
Memory Verse: “Do to others as you would have them do to you”
Luke 6:31, NIV
Jesus preached many wonderful lessons in the Sermon on the Mount. The lessons were practical and applied to everyday life.
Scholars have differing opinions concerning the content of the Sermon on the Mount. It might have been all preached in one sitting or it could be a few sermons or teachings of Jesus combined together. The gospel of Luke records Jesus saying many of the same things but in various settings and times. For example, our memory verse today is found in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:12) and in the sermon in Luke 6:17-49.
The sermon calls believers to a very high standard of living: ”Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Jesus taught about the kingdom of God and how to live in it. The sermon is not just about what to believe. It is practical and teaches how to live. One way to divide the sermon in Matthew is as follows:
5:1-12 The Beatitudes Some have translated “blessed” with the word “happy” but it means more than just an emotion dependent on outward circumstances. The blessings of the beatitudes refer to a deep spiritual joy experienced by those who live in the kingdom according to God’s plan.
5:13-20; 6:1-7:23 Ethical Admonitions These verses are very practical instructions on how to live in the kingdom of God.
5:21-48 Contrasts between Jesus’ ethical teaching and Jewish legalistic traditions Some have paralleled the giving on the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai with this giving of the new law by Jesus on a mountain.
7:24-29 ends with the parable of the wise and foolish builders. The parable teaches that listening is not enough. Jesus wants us to hear his words and then put them into practice.
Teachers could easily spend a whole term just on the Beatitudes. Even more time could be spent on the entire Sermon on the Mount. Today’s lesson covers what is often referred to as the “Golden Rule”. This important lesson is just one small part of the whole Sermon.
A negative form of the golden rule is found in Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism. It was even found in Greek and Roman ethical teachings. But it is not enough to say, ”don’t do to people the things that you don’t like done to you”. We could follow that advice by simply doing nothing. We could just avoid people altogether. Instead, Jesus stated the same thing but in a positive way: “Do to others”. This requires us to interact with people. We must take positive action with those around us.
- What happened before this story?
- What happens after this story?
- List of all Bible stories and themes on this website.
Way to Introduce the Story:
If possible, show the children something that is gold (ring, or other jewellery) and talk about how precious gold is. Today’s lesson concerns a time when Jesus preached a sermon. He said many good things. One of the things he said is so special that some people call it the “Golden Rule”.
Jesus taught many people about God. Sometimes he just spoke to one person at a time. At other times he taught groups of people.
Once Jesus saw a crowd of people and decided to teach them by preaching a sermon. He went up on a mountainside and sat down. The people gathered around him so they could hear what Jesus had to say.
Jesus preached a sermon about how to obey God. He told the people that they would be happy in their hearts if they lived God’s way.
He told them that it is important to obey God from the heart. It is not enough to obey God on the outside just so other people can see. We have to really mean it.
Jesus preached to the people about being kind to people even if they are not kind first. In his sermon he said that we should love our enemies and pray for them. He said that people should help the poor people too.
Jesus also taught the crowd how to pray. He said they should pray like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
In his sermon Jesus also said something very important about how to treat other people. He said that everyone should “do to others what you would have them do to you.” Jesus said that and a lot of people remembered it. Many years later someone thought that this was such an important thing that they started calling it the “Golden Rule”.
The “Golden Rule” is this: “Do to others what you would have them do to you.” Do you know what the golden rule means? Think about the things you like people to do to you. Do you like it when someone is kind to you? If you do then you should be kind to other people. Do you like it when people help you carry things that are heavy? If you do then you should help other people carry things that are heavy. Do you like it when your friends come to bible class so the class is big and you can play games? If you do then you should come to bible class so that other people will be able to play games too.
“Do to others what you would have them do to you” does not mean that we should only be nice to someone who is nice to us first. The golden rule means that we should do nice things for people even if they are not nice to us. We should be nice because we know that we like it when people are nice to us.
Can you think of something nice to do for someone today?
This story can be told using a variety of methods. Always remain true to the facts found in the Bible but help children connect to its meaning by using drama, visual aids, voice inflection, student interaction and/or emotion. Click here for other visual aids and story-telling methods.
Although not specifically about the “Golden Rule” you may be able to use illustrations from a slideshow and set of illustrations from the Beatitudes section of the Sermon on the Mount. These can be downloaded downloaded directly from Free Bible Images.
- In what book of the Bible do you find the Sermon on the Mount? Matthew
- Who preached the Sermon on the Mount? Jesus
- What is the “Golden Rule”? “Do to others what you would have them do to you.”
Learning Activities and Crafts:
Tell the story from an elevated position in the classroom or even better go and find a hill to tell this story from.
- Children can take turns sitting on the same elevated position to say the memory verse.
- Ask the children to share different places where they have heard sermons. Ask if they remember special things they might have heard in sermons. Share some of your own experiences.
- Before class cut paper into small “cards”. Use a crayon or glitter to draw a gold dot in the centre of some of the cards. Leave the others blank. Blue-tac the cards under the chairs before the children come to class. For this activity describe a situation and ask a child to reach under his/her chair to see which kind of card they have. If the card has a gold dot then they should tell what should be done in the situation according to the golden rule. If their card is blank then the child should say what a person might do if they did not follow the golden rule.
- Write the memory verse on a white/chalk board. Ask the class to repeat the verse with you a few times. Erase one word and say the verse together again. Each time you repeat the verse erase another word. Soon all the words are erased and the children know the verse by heart.
- Puppet Skit for Pre-schoolers: Try using simple finger puppets or soft toys for this cute application Loving one another Puppet Skit which was submitted by Jenny Ancell, Australia. You’ll just need to change the names of the brands and stores/shops to adapt to your situation.
Check the Teaching Ideas page on this website for ideas that are adaptable to any lesson.
Other Online Resources:
- Colouring page and worksheets about the Beatitudes from http://calvarycurriculum.org
- Colouring page and worksheets about loving your enemy from http://calvarycurriculum.org
- Colouring page and worksheets about Jesus teaching the Apostles to pray (Lord’s Prayer) from http://calvarycurriculum.org
- Activities for teaching the Golden Rule from http://www.sundayschoolkids.com
- Lesson Plan from sundayschoolsources.com