The Call of the Disciples
Summary of Lesson Activities:
View video clips of Jesus calling his disciples. All groups will watch the first video listed below. On week 1, the 5th grade will also watch the second video listed. For weeks two through four we may try to use a video made in the Drama Workshop on 9/8.
- "Jesus Teaches and Calls Disciple"s from Children’s Hero’s of the Bible, # 8 Vision Video, 1986.
- "Jesus" from the CBS mini-series (2 tapes, use tape #2), Trimark Pictures, 2000. (Please note: some portions of these two videos are NOT appropriate for young children).
John 1:35-42, John 1:43-46, Luke 5:1-11, Mark 3: 13-19 (in order as seen in the videos)
Workshop Objectives: Children will learn:
- The terms “call” and “disciple”
- The story of how Jesus called his disciples, including the selection of fishermen
- That these disciples left everything to follow Jesus
- That Jesus had many other disciples including women
- That Jesus calls us to be disciples today.
- Read the scripture for this lesson.
- Read and reflect on the overview material provided for this lesson.
- Prepare an opening and/or closing prayer in case you need one.
- The videos listed above
- An easel with paper
- A TV/VCR will have been reserved for your workshop
Note: The children in our program are called “Sunday’s Cool Disciples”. Each grade group is named after a Disciple.
Opening- Welcome and Lesson Introduction:
Greet your students warmly by their disciple group name. (Each grade is named after a disciple, for example: 4th grade is “Peter”.) Introduce yourself and any other adults. Since it’s September, start the class with introductions.
Tell students: today we’ll be watching a video about Jesus and how he asked people to follow him and be his helpers. First, let’s start with prayer.
Ask: for any prayer requests. Ask if anyone would like to lead the group in prayer. Be prepared to say a prayer yourself, working in prayer requests. A suggestion: “Dear God, Thank you for everyone who is here today. Help us to learn about Jesus and his disciples. Help us to follow Jesus too. Amen”
Pass around a basket to collect any offering.
[Note: The Shepherd will be taking care of attendance, nametags, and any visitor cards; This can all happen quietly while you are starting your lesson.]
Dig- Main Content and Reflection:
Say: We’ll be watching a couple of short videos on Jesus calling his disciples. What do you think it means to say that Jesus called disciples? (allow all answers but essentially in this case, “call” means an invitation to come along with someone.) Say: So Jesus invited his disciples to follow him.
- Ask: What is a disciple? (Answer: We think of a “disciple” as one of the twelve original Disciples of Christ. Also say that in a more general sense, it means a follower or a person who is learning from someone else.)
Say: Jesus called, or invited, special people to be his followers – to travel with him, to learn from him, to be his disciples.
- Ask: Can you tell me the names of any of Jesus’ twelve disciples, the ones that we usually think of when we say “disciples”? (Try to see if they can name them: Simon (Peter), James, John, Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James, Thaddaeus, Simon (the zealot), and Judas Iscariot.)
(Hopefully in the latter part of the rotation, kids will do better at this request. Don’t dwell on it if they don’t know all the names.)
- Ask: What about women, were there any women disciples of Jesus during Bible times? (Yes) If we go back to our looser definition of what disciple meant, a person who is learning from someone else, that would include women. Mary and Martha were two sisters who were followers of Jesus. Remember that when people say “disciples of Jesus” they mostly think of the twelve men, but Jesus did have women who were his followers.
- Ask: What about us today – are we disciples? (Yes! Even today Jesus calls us to be his disciples.)
Say: Everyone in Sunday’s Cool this year are the “Sunday’s Cool Disciples”. Did you all know that you are not only the x grade class, but that your group has a name? Do you know what your disciple group name is? (your disciple group is ***) Your class is named after a disciple of Jesus to help us remember that you are disciples of Jesus too.
Say: In Bible times one of the things disciples of Jesus did, was to learn from Jesus. A lot of their learning was from Jesus telling stories. We have those stories written down for us in the Bible. We can learn to be disciples of Jesus when we read stories about Jesus and watch movies about Jesus. When we read stories about Jesus, we find them in the New Testament of our Bible.
Teacher Note: At this point follow the lesson plan based on grade you have (select correct box). Sometimes additional material for older kids is included in a box. In that case, for younger kids just skip to lesson material below that box.
For older students (3rd grade and up):
Pass out Bibles. Have the kids find John, chapter 1, verse 35 in their Bibles.
Note: If they are struggling with finding John, remind them about the quick way to the New Testament: Open the Bible at its halfway point. Take the back half and divide it in half – they will be at the beginning of the New Testament.
Write “Andrew” & “Simon Peter” on the easel paper. As you are doing so,
Say: This Bible story is about Andrew and Simon Peter. This story also mentions John,
but the John in this story is John the Baptist. John the Baptist preached about God. He
said God would send a Messiah. John the Baptist had followers or disciples. In this story,
Andrew is a disciple of John the Baptist before he becomes a disciple of Jesus.
Say: Before we read this story, what stories do you know about how Andrew and Simon Peter became disciples of Jesus? (accept all answers)
Say: This story in the Gospel of John is a different version about how they met Jesus.
Have kids take turns reading out loud, verses 35 – 42. (Make sure they leave their Bibles open when they’re done.)
- Ask: Was that story different than what you’ve heard, about how Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew became disciples? (accept all answers)
Say: Let’s also read the story of Jesus calling two more disciples – Philip and Nathanael.
Have kids take turns reading out loud verses 43 – 46. Write “Philip” and “Nathanael” on the easel paper.
For younger students (1st and 2nd grade):
Hold open a Bible to John. Tell the students the story using your own words or use this story:
The Jewish people had been waiting a long time for God to send the promised Messiah to save them. John the Baptist was a preacher who talked about this Messiah. One day John the Baptist saw Jesus and said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” That was John’s way of saying, “There’s the Messiah!”
Andrew heard what John said. Andrew decided to go with Jesus and learn
more about him. So Andrew spent a day with Jesus and he was very excited! Jesus was the Messiah! Andrew couldn’t wait to tell his brother, Simon Peter, that he had found the Messiah.
Say: Andrew and Simon Peter both became disciples of Jesus. Now I want to tell you another Bible story about two more men who became disciples of Jesus.
Jesus had asked Philip to follow him and be his disciple. “Follow me,” Jesus said. Philip wanted his friend Nathanael to also follow Jesus. “He is the Messiah we have been waiting for –Jesus of Nazareth,” Philip said. Nathanael was not so sure.
“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see”, Philip answered.
For all students:
Ask: What was it that Jesus said to Philip? (follow me, verse 43). A simple follow me.
So Philip and Nathanael both became disciples of Jesus.
Say: Let’s watch the first video clip. Listen for the names of the disciples in this story.
Showing video clip #1: Start the first video (“Children’s Heroes of the Bible). Start at the beginning and play about 2 minutes. Stop after Nathanael says, “I’m afraid you’ll all see how mistaken you are about your Messiah…” (before the wedding at Cana story).
Ask: What disciples did we learn about in that video? (Andrew telling Simon about finding the Messiah, and Peter talking to Nathanael.) But wait, in our Bible story, who told Nathanael about Jesus? (Philip, check back to the Bible if need be.)
Say: It’s a good idea when you’re watching videos to check and see if they got the story right.
Teacher Note: It is perfectly ok to rewind a video to show a clip over again if you think the students didn’t “get it”.
For older students (3rd grade and up):
Ask: In that video was Nathanael excited about seeing Jesus? (no) What was it he said about Jesus’ hometown Nazareth? (roughly: Can anything good come from Nazareth?)
Why do you suppose the Bible would include a story about someone like Nathanael who was unsure about following Jesus? (accept all answers) We can learn from the Bible that it’s ok if we have doubts. We can also learn that Nathanael did come to believe in Jesus and became a disciple of Jesus.
For all students:
Say: Now let’s watch another part of this tape. This is a story from the gospel of Luke in the Bible. We won’t take the time to read this story we’ll just watch it since this video tells the Bible story correctly.
Showing video clip #2: Fast-forward the tape to where the two men say, “What kind of man is he?” (This is after Jesus has been rejected by his hometown.) You can say that you are skipping stories we will learn about some other time.
Show about four minutes of video on the “big catch of fish/ fishers of men” story (from Luke 5:1-11). Stop when the story ends at the still picture of an empty boat (with dramatic music), about 4 minutes.
- Ask: What happened in that video clip? (allow all answers)
- Ask: In that story, whom did Jesus “call” to be his disciples? (Simon Peter, Andrew, James, and John)
(For 3rd grade and up: add “James” and “John” to the easel paper.)
- Ask: All those fish in their nets, that was really a miracle wasn’t it?
- What happened when Jesus asked the fishermen to follow him? (they said they’d follow Jesus)
- Who wasn’t happy about them following Jesus? (Zebedee, the father of James & John)
- Why was he not happy? (allow all answers)
- So to follow Jesus did that mean they had to leave behind their family?(They even left behind a big catch of fish!)
- What do you suppose Jesus meant when he said they’d be “fishers of men”? (allow all answers)
Say: Jesus had new work for the fishermen to do. He needed them to learn how to tell other people about Jesus; he needed them to fish for people.
What about us – we are disciples of Jesus, do we fish for people? (allow all answers- try to get them to give an example that applies to their lives)
Showing video clip #3: Eject the tape currently in the VCR. Put in tape #2 of the CBS Jesus mini-series. As you do, Say: Let’s watch another very different video. This video also depicts a Bible story about Jesus.
Show the clip of Jesus naming the twelve disciples. (The scene is just after Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus have finished their conversation.) Start where Jesus is on the shore with a small crowd on the beach. Stop after the “group hug”; about 4 minutes.
- Ask: What did you see in that video? (allow all answers)
Say: All those people on the beach were followers of Jesus. Did you see that some of them were women?
- Ask: Did you hear Jesus telling his twelve disciples, “Take nothing with you”?
Jesus was asking them to leave everything behind and follow him. Do you think that would be hard to leave everything behind? (allow all answers)
If you find yourself with extra time: Rewind clip # 3 and show it again. Ask kids if they noticed anything new.
When it is time to wrap up, Say: we have learned about Jesus calling his disciples. Jesus calls us to be disciples too. Let’s all say together the Bible verse that talks about fishing for people:
(Have the kids repeat with you the key verse from Matthew 4:19): “Come, follow me and I will make you fish for people” (Say this together at least twice.)
Say: A good way to fish for people is to come back next week and invite your friends!
Some additional notes: I'm not really that happy with the choice of videos but couldn't find anything else to use. The Vision video is older and thus it's "graphics" are out-dated. The "Jesus" video is good. It does include the Luke 5:1-11 story which could be used instead. Watch out though: portions of this 2 video set are just not appropriate for young kids. It would have been nice to show the part of that video that depicts what people in those days thought of tax collectors, but it includes a scene where someone gets their head chopped off!
A lesson from: First United Methodist Church
Ann Arbor, MI
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