The Baptism of Jesus
Summary of Lesson Activities:
Uses the "Jesus in Space" software (Sunday Software)
Note: This software program is now free to the supporting members of Rotation.org and their congregations for Sunday School or home use. Learn more!
- Read the scripture ahead of time.
- Gather the materials.
- Install and Explore the software.
- "Jesus in Space" (Sunday Software)
Jesus in Space has three Mission-lessons on it: Baptism, Lord's Supper, Emmaus. Have it loaded and ready to go.
Baptism: Mission #1 is a mission to the "Planet Vet"
"Vet" is an underwater planet (get it?) full of sentient sea creatures, led by Minister Gilfiltafish (get it?). Lt Stu lands on their planet to help explain baptism to a culture that has water all around them.
Attached to this post (at the bottom) is a Student Handout to guide your kids through the Mission. That handout also functions as a guide for the teacher. The lesson plan BELOW here is somewhat different and improved!
- The story of Jesus' baptism is surprisingly DENSE and COMPLEX, as well as rather LONG. It has a lot of vocabulary that may be difficult for children. It also has heavy theological concepts and the strange character of Johnny B. The Jesus in Space Mission #1 Baptism activities will work on all that to make it accessible and memorable.
- The story of Jesus' baptism is intertwined with the story of John the Baptist, and carries the additional (burden) priority of needing to teach "ABOUT" baptism --a sacrament about which many churches disagree (child vs adult baptism for example). Some lessons separate these three things into three separate ideas. The Gospels do not do this and neither will the software or this lesson plan. Mission #1 in the CD has a section to deal with this too.
- About Baptism: Denominations and preachers tend to pontificate about baptism rather than embrace its inherent mystery: God makes us his children! None of us is worthy. Some believe in adult-only "believers" baptism ---and that's fine with me, as long as they don't confuse it with the Commandments. Nothing we believe or say can convince God of our worthiness. We all fall short, says Paul. Some insist on "running water-only" baptism, and some allow private baptism (as opposed to in public worship). Some also practice "infant baptism." In the software, each of these practices is shared and the software prompts you to ask "what your church believes".
My denomination also baptizes infants, ...drawing upon various scriptures that suggest that "entire households" be baptized (such as in the case of Cornelius). A baby is a great example of the Baptism Transaction: God embraces, the church embraces. The individual themself? ...well, we have high hopes for them!
In my years of leading Confirmation (of Baptism) Classes, I would often sprinkle my confirmands with water while talking about their baptism. Then I would take a big handful of water, get one of them with it, and then MISS ANOTHER with the water, (making the following point quite memorable). I'd ask: "If the pastor misses you with the water, are you still baptized?" The answer is of course, YES, because baptism is what GOD is doing, not what WE are doing. And God never misses when he embraces you. And is the one who got soaked somehow more special in the eyes of God?[/] No. It's about what God is doing, not us.
Okay, it's also a time for the individual or family to speak up too! It's an opportunity to witness and teach. It's not "being saved magic". We don't save anybody by what we say, and we don't save ourselves by our words. [i]That's Christianity 101.[/b] Words are great! -but God saves based on his grace, not ours.
Mission #1 in Jesus in Space asks this "missing with water" question, and offers some explanation. You'll DO the demonstration as the CLOSING of the lesson.
When I teach the "missing question", I also ask the next question: "How many people and what kind of water does God require?" (This always reminds me of Lot's question to God about Sodom.) If there's even ONE it's good enough for God. Which raises the final question: "Does God require any of us to adopt a person as his child?" Obviously not. The point: Baptism is God's gift to us. It's not magic. It's a visible demonstration of God's grace regardless of how we do it, or IF. This is great discussion for older students.
GOD HAS ALREADY FILED OUR ADOPTION PAPERS ON THE CROSS. We in the church are merely throwing a "water party" to embrace whom God has already embraced, and surround that person with brothers and sisters in the faith. Any suggestion that God needs our approval to adopt someone is interesting, but would have probably gotten you burned on some cross back when. [i]God is bringing them to us. Let's celebrate!
Okay, enough of the sermon...Here's the lesson:
Greet the children and introduce yourself. Tell them what they'll be learning and doing today.
Ask the kids to tell you what they know about baptism and about Jesus' baptism, and about John the Baptist.
Quickly read Matthew 3. It's long. Skip what you feel is necessary to fit your class. Don't spend too much time doing that, as the Bible study will be in the software itself. You'll have time to talk about it in a few minutes once their interest is peaked by the following activity.
Dive Into the Software
a. Watching the "movie-like" opening of the program and then select Mission 1: Planet Vet.
b. Land on Planet Vet and go see Minister Gilfiltafish to get the 'premise' of the mission (helping new Christians understand baptism).
c. Go into the B.A.B.E.L. 4000 onscreen activity. Work through the story to RE-TELL. DRAG new "underwater" concepts into the story blanks from a pallet of pre-determine "ocean themed" words. The kids also populate each scene in the story with sea critters. This should take them about 10 minutes. Have them take turns with the controls.
d. After filling out all the scenes, get up and gather around each computer to PLAY BACK each group's story for the entire class. They can do is as many times as you allow them. This is a teachable moment!
Many of the underwater words they select can be commented on... for example, IIn the Bible story John wore a scratchy camel's hair coat, and on Planet Vet you put him in a coat made of CLAMS. What's this trying to tell us about John's attitude and ministry?"
- Start the Baptism Presentation back aboard the Starship Tarsus. Pause to make some comments, or have your teaching assistants point out of few ideas presented in the presentations (there are questions).
- Finish by playing "The Baptism Pipes Game"
This game is sneaky as it will show them info "about baptism" while they try to fix the baptismal font's pipes, then it will QUIZ them on that content after the pipes are fixed. If they want to play again they have to get the quiz pretty much right!
Circle up and walk around with a bowl of water placing some water on each child's head. Be sure to give one willing 'convert' a large does of water to make it memorable! As you are doing this, share the Good News of God's cleansing and refreshing grace.
"Miss" one of the children several times, explaining that whether you miss, or whether they don't remember their baptism or haven't yet been baptized in the church, God's Promises are theirs FOR SURE. All that's left is the water party and a life of service.
Hope you enjoy this lesson.
Alternate Software Suggestions:
1) Baptism/John the Baptist has a short presentation in the Life of Christ CD.
2020 Note: Discovery Interactive’s "Life of Christ" CD has gone out of print (its material has been turned into an online course). Learn more here!
2) John the Baptist has a small role in the Birth story software: "Fluffy and God's Amazing Christmas Adventure" (Sunday Software). Recall he "jumped for joy" in the womb when Elizabeth saw Mary. There's a panel in that CD "About John". This software is FREE to supporting members! Check it out.