BIRTH OF JESUS
Scripture: Psalm 150:6; Micah 5:2; Matthew 1:18–24, 2:1–12
Memory verse: Psalm 150:6
“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.”
Ask the students to name some things they think about when they decide on a gift for someone. Discuss things such as, the age of the person receiving the gift and what the person’s likes and dislikes are. Name several items and let the students tell you if they would be good gifts for a 15-year old youth. Name such things as a 10-speed bike, a soccer ball, a baby’s toy, a walking cane, and a set of cooking pots. Talk about the importance of knowing the person to whom you are giving the gift.
Tell the students that this week’s study is about some men who came from the East to worship Jesus. These men were not only scholarly, but were also wealthy. They spared no cost and brought fits truly worthy of a king. They brought three very special gifts that must have taken a long time and a lot of thought to choose. Display pictures of each of these gifts, or bring representations of each item to use in the discussion.
Gold: It was common for a king to be given gold as a present. Gold represents royalty and authority It was often given as an offering to God. (Ask a student to read Exodus 35:21, 22.)
Frankincense: Frankincense is a glittering, fragrant gum that was used in making perfume. It was very costly, so it would have been given only on special occasions.
Myrrh: Myrrh was a sweet-smelling spice used in perfumes and ointments. It too was very expensive. It was used at special occasions, including anointing bodies for burial. This is symbolic of the purpose Jesus had in coming to earth—so He could die for all mankind.
Ask the students what a young child would do with the three gifts mentioned and if they would have given a young child something different. Explain that the men who came to see Jesus were not coming to see a child; they were coming to see a king. Tell the students that in this study they will hear more about these men. They will learn how we can give gifts of worship and praise to Jesus.
Hearing God’s Word
Ask: “What do you think is the very best thing about the birth of Jesus? (Write all answers on the chalkboard.)
Celebrating Jesus’ Birthday
Some people think the purpose of celebrating Jesus’ birthday is to receive lots of gifts. The more gifts they receive, the better they like it. Giving gifts is part of our celebration of Jesus’ birth. But this is the kind of present many people give Jesus on His birthday. (Display an empty box you have wrapped in pretty paper. Allow a volunteer to unwrap the box and show the contents—nothing.)
Ask: “How would you feel if you received this package on your birthday?” (Allow responses.)
Jesus’ birthday has been celebrated every year for hundreds of years. But many people leave Jesus out of His own birthday celeb ration. The Bible tells of only one occasion on which Jesus received presents to honour His birth. As you listen to the following account, try to think of ways you can honour Jesus on His birthday.
Events at Jesus’ Birth
Most of you are probably very familiar with what happened. Let us quickly review some of the events surrounding Jesus’ birth.
Ask: “Who was Jesus’ mother?” (Mary) “Who is Jesus’ father?” (God) ‘”Who was Mary engaged to when the angel told her Jesus would soon be born?” (Joseph)
After Joseph learned about the Baby, an angel appeared to him in a dream. What did the angel say? (Ask a volunteer to read Matthew 1:20, 21.) The angel told Joseph three things: God by way of the Holy Spirit is the Baby’s father, the Baby’s name should be Jesus and the Baby would save people from their sins.
When Jesus was born, an angel appeared to some shepherds who were watching their sheep in a field nearby. At first, the shepherds were terrified. It was no common event to see an angel. The angel said not to fear, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people,” the angel told them.
The angel told the shepherds the wonderful news that a Saviour had been born. Then suddenly the sky was filled with angels praising God. After the angels were gone, the shepherds left their sheep and hurried to find the Saviour. What a wonderful time this was for them!
Wise Men Search for Jesus
Jesus’ presents did not arrive until much later, however. Most of you probably know this part as well.
Ask: “How many Wise Men were there?” (Allow responses.)
Many people think there were three, probably because of the three gifts. But what does the Bible say? (Ask a student to read Matthew 2:1, 2.) We cannot be certain how many Wise Men travelled to Bethlehem to see Jesus.
King Herod was ruling Israel when Jesus was born. The Wise Men had started their journey from the East after they saw a special star. These men studied the sky as their occupation. When they saw a new, unusual light, they believed it was a sign that something very special had happened. The star led the men to Judea, but once in the country, they were unsure where to go next. So they went to Herod in Jerusalem for information.
Ask: “If you had been King Herod, how would you have felt if wealthy, intelligent men from a far country came to your palace asking about a new king?” (Allow discussion)
Herod had no new sons. The Wise Men’s strange question made Herod worried. (Ask a student to read Matthew 2:3, 4.) Since Herod knew nothing about a new prince, he asked the Jewish religious leaders where such a ruler would be born. The religious men remembered what the prophet Micah had written hundreds of years earliest. Where did Micah say a great ruler would be born? (Ask a student to read Micah 5:2.) A ruler would be born in Bethlehem.
Herod Schemes to Find Jesus
Once King Herod found the information the Wise Men needed, he talked to them secretly. (Ask a student to read Matthew 2:7, 8.) Herod wanted to know the exact time the star had appeared. Then he asked the Wise Men to return after finding the King so he could worship Him too. Did Herod really want to worship Jesus? Herod had killed people before when he thought they wanted his throne. Herod intended to also kill this Baby.
(Ask volunteers to read Matthew 2:9–11.) When the Wise Men left the palace, they looked up and saw the star again. They were overjoyed. They knew they were on the right track. Soon they would find the King.
The Wise Men Present Gifts
The Wise Men arrived in Bethlehem and found Mary and Jesus.
Ask: “Where was Jesus when the men arrived?” (Allow an answer)
Jesus and Mary were in a house. Many times we imagine them still in the stable with the animals, but the Bible says Mary and Jesus were in a house. Verse 11 also says Jesus was a young child. He was no longer a baby by the time the Wise Men found Him.
At last the Wise Men’s journey was over. The light had stopped over the house. A mother and child awaited them. The Wise Men fell down and worshiped the young Child. They knew they were in the presence of someone great. The wise Men presented to Jesus their priceless gifts.
Ask: “What kinds of gifts did they bring?” (Allow responses.)
The Wise Men brought three very valuable kinds of gifts—gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (Refer to the Lead—In for the study as you discuss the gifts and the significance of each one.
Their mission had been completed. Their search for the King of the Jews had ended in success, they had given Him their gifts, and they were ready to start the journey home. Before the Wise Men left, God warned them in a dream not to return to Herod. They went home by another route. (Ask a student to read Matthew 2:12.) God was protecting His Son so He could grow up to save us.
We Can Give Gifts to Jesus
We cannot travel to Bethlehem as the Wise Men did or give Jesus gold, frankincense, and myrrh. But we can worship Jesus on His birthday. He was born to save us—that was His whole purpose in coming to earth. Our praise is important to Jesus. Our memory verse says, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.” (Psalm 150:6). (Repeat the verse two or three times). There is no greater gift that could ever be given to us. Only Jesus could pay the price for our salvation, and He was willing to do it simply because of His amazing love for us.
In addition to our praise and thanksgiving, there are other gifts we can give Jesus. Jesus wants us to give our lives totally to Him. He wants our hearts, time, talents, and love. Have you given your life to Jesus? If not, there is no better time than today as we honour Jesus’ birth.
Accepting God’s Word
Tell the students that it is important to remember the reason Jesus was born on earth. His purpose in coming was not simply to live as a human. He came so He could live a sinless life and become the sacrifice for our sins. Jesus came to give His life for us. No one else could do it.
Remember: BIRTH OF JESUS
Memory verse: Psalm 150:6
“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.”
1. The Spirit of God became a person. His name is "Jesus."
2. Jesus lived a sinless life. His death on the Cross was the sacrifice for my sins.
3. Jesus is able to forgive my sins today. I just need to confess them and ask for His forgiveness.
Study 17 | Jesus Says Go/We Believe | africaatts.org/go-teach