Aim to understand John’s mission and why he failed
* To understand John’s mission and why he failed
* coloured pictures of Elijah, John the Baptist and Jesus
* Visual aids: how people viewed John & Jesus
* A Bible for each child
* Bible verses
* Extracts from the Divine Principle
* Children’s worksheet
1. The Prophet Elijah
2. The Mission of John the Baptist
3. What did the people know John?
4. What did the people know Jesus?
5. Why John Failed his Mission
6. Activities – searching for Bible verses, worksheet
7. Review the aims
1) The Prophet Elijah
In Malachi, the last book of prophecy in the Old Testament, it says, – ‘Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. (Malachi 4:5).
Elijah was a great prophet of Israel who lived nine hundred years before Jesus. According to the Books of Kings, Elijah raised the dead, brought fire down from the sky, and ascended into heaven on a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:11).
SHOW THE PICTURE
The “great and terrible day” that is referred to is the time when the Messiah comes, and thus this prophecy shows that before the Messiah comes, Elijah must first return. The Israelites’ longing for the Messiah was actually intensely focused on the arrival of the historical prophet, Elijah. This was because the Old Testament did not clearly foretell when the Messiah would come, but did clearly indicate that Elijah would precede him.
For the Israelites to believe Jesus was the Messiah, Elijah had to return first.
2) The Mission of John the Baptist
* John was the returning Elijah. An angel told his father, Zechariah,
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– He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1: 16-17)
* John was a new person, but with the same mission as Elijah. His mission was to prepare people to receive the Messiah, and to be his main disciple. Jesus himself said that John was the Elijah.
– ‘This is the one about whom it is written: ” ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ – (Matthew 11:10)
– And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come – (Matthew 11:14)
* Even though John was the returning Elijah, when he was asked he said he wasn’t Elijah.
– They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” – (John 1:21)
Ask the children to find John 1:19-27, which gives a fuller account.
Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was.
He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.”
They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?”
He said, “I am not.”
“Are you the Prophet?”
He answered, “No.”
Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”
John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’”
Now the Pharisees who had been sent questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”
‘I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”
* Because Jesus said John was the Elijah, and John said he wasn’t, this confused the people. Who would the Israelites be more likely believe? It depended on what the people knew about them.
3) What did the people know about John?
1. He was from an important priest’s family – His father was a priest. He was well-educated.
2. He was a good example of spiritual life – He baptized people to wash away their sins. He said they should repent, because the kingdom of heaven was coming soon. He lived in the desert on honey and locusts,
3. There were miracles surrounding his birth. An angel told his father that John would become a very special person for God. His father was struck dumb because he disbelieved the angel. This story was well-known throughout the country.
4. Jewish leaders respected him very much. – John was held in such high regard that high priests, as well as the common people, even asked if he were the Messiah
– The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ. (Luke 3:15)
4) What did the people know about Jesus?
1. He was from a humble carpenter’s family, – no education.
2. People thought he was a bad example of spiritual life, because was the friend of tax collectors and sinners, and known as a glutton (a greedy eater) and drunkard
– The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and “sinners.” (Matthew 11:19)
3. There were bad rumours about his birth. – Who was his father? Mary & Joseph were not married
4. Jewish leaders condemned him, because he said was very special
* He put himself equal with God
– Jesus said,”Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? (John 14:9-10)
* He was was known as one who was abolishing the law
– “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. (Matthew 5:17)
* He told the people that they had to love him more than anyone else
– “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; (Matthew 10:37)
* Because of this, the Jewish leaders went so far as to claim that Jesus was working by the power of Beelzebub, the prince of demons .
– But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebub,the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”(Matthew 12:24)
It is obvious from the above, that people were much more likely to believe John.
5) Why John Failed his Mission
* At first John did testify about Jesus.
– “I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”(John 1:34)
SHOW THE PICTURE
Ask the children to find John 1:29-34, which gives fuller account.
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”
Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”
* John’s mission was to tell people that Jesus was the Messiah. In the beginning he did this, but later he doubted it. He didn’t follow Jesus. Instead he criticized the king and was put in jail. While in jail he sent a message to Jesus to ask if he were the Messiah or not.
– When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Matthew 11: 2-3).
Ask the children to find Matthew 2:2-11, which gives a fuller account.
When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”
Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see:
The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.
Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”
As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind?
If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in ﬁne clothes? No, those who wear ﬁne clothes are in kings’ palaces. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.
This is the one about whom it is written:
“‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’
Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
* John should have been Jesus’ closest disciple, but this verse proves that John did not understand Jesus and failed to follow him. It also shows that Jesus was upset with John. Although John was born with the greatest mission, Jesus said he would be least in the Kingdom of heaven
* One main reason he failed his mission is that he denied being Elijah. Because Jesus said John was Elijah it made Jesus look very bad. This blocked the Jewish people from coming to Jesus, and that is why Jesus was rejected and crucified.
* It is also the reason why John lost his life. He was chosen for the greatest mission to testify to the living Messiah. Because he failed he lost God’s protection and lost his life.
* Search bibles verses – John 1:19-27, John 1:29-34, Matthew 2:2-11
* Worksheet – Write down the words of John and Jesus from John 1:21 and Matthew 11:14
– Write down what the people knew about Jesus and John the Baptist
7) Review the aims
To understand John’s mission and why he failed
a) As the returning Elijah, his mission was to tell everyone Jesus was the Messiah, but he didn’t.
b) He was meant be Jesus’ closest follower, but he didn’t follow him
c) Because John denied he was Elijah, it blocked people from coming to Jesus
d) The Israelites had a higher opinion of John than Jesus, and believed his word more than Jesus
John – from an important family, good example of spiritual life, miracles surrounding his birth, respected by Jewish leaders
Jesus – from a humble family, bad example of spiritual life, bad rumours about his birth, condemned by Jewish leaders
8) End with a prayer