Jesus’ Birth through the Eyes of Isaiah
Summary of Lesson Activity:
Hear about the art form of illuminated manuscripts. Create an illuminated name for Jesus using some of Isaiah’s words.
Isaiah 7:14 and Isaiah 9:6
- Children will learn the significance of names, especially those that we give to Jesus.
- Children will give Jesus a name that means something special to them.
- Read the scripture for this lesson.
- Read and reflect on the overview material provided for this lesson.
- Gather the materials
- Easel with paper, appropriate marker
- For 3rd – 6th grades: Adventure Bibles
- Leader's Adventure Bible with tabs (Law, History, etc.)
- Bible tab writing kit: tabs, fine-line Sharpie pen
- For 1st and 2nd graders: The Praise Bible
- Paper – calligraphy parchment paper; scrap paper for rough sketching
- 1st – 3rd grade: regular pencils, crayons, markers, colored pencils
- 4th – 6th grade: colored pencils, regular pencils, art erasers, rulers, gold & silver glitter paint, paint brushes, clean meat trays
- Books showing examples of illuminated manuscripts (see resources
Advanced Preparation Requirements:
- In the provided library book, bookmark some pages to show examples of illuminated manuscripts.
- Write Isaiah’s names for Jesus (Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace) on the easel. Leave room to add more names for Jesus.
- Bookmark Isaiah 9:6 in the leaders purple Adventure Bible.
Opening- Welcome and Lesson Introduction
Greet your students warmly, welcoming them to the Art Workshop. Introduce yourself and any other adults.
Go around the room and ask the students to say their name or any nickname.
Say: Your name is pretty important – it says who you are. Naming a new baby is a process parents struggle with because they want to choose a name appropriate for their child.
Ask: Did you know that in the Bible, we find more than 100 different names for Jesus?
Say: God wanted an appropriate name for his son – born for us on the first Christmas. Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, there lived a prophet named Isaiah. Isaiah told about the coming of Jesus! Isaiah also gave clues as to who Jesus would be, with the names he used for Jesus. Today we’ll be creating some special drawings using one of the names Isaiah gave for Jesus. We’ll be talking about Isaiah and what Isaiah had to say, but first, let’s start with prayer.
Ask for any prayer requests. Ask if anyone would like to lead the group in prayer. Use the Lord’s Prayer as the ending. [You may ask one or two students to lead the Lord’s Prayer.] A suggestion: “Holy One, at this busy season of Advent help us to focus on the reason why we celebrate the birth of Jesus. As we learn names for your awesome gift – your son, your wonderful counselor – help us to see that you love us. (End with the Lord’s Prayer) Amen.
Dig- Main Content and Reflection
Say: Each of you has one or two names, and perhaps a nickname but there are more than 100 different names and titles for Jesus.
Ask: Why do you suppose there are so many names for Jesus? (allow a few responses)
Say: Maybe Jesus had so many names because he has so many jobs to do! Or maybe it was because he was different for different people. If we think about the birth of Jesus through Isaiah’s eyes – it can help us to understand who Jesus is. Let’s find some of these names in the Bible.
Ask: If I told you that the prophet Isaiah had told us these names for Jesus about 700 years before Jesus was born, where would we find these names in the Bible? (in the Old Testament)
For 1st and 2nd graders:
Say: The Old Testament includes stories and events that happened before Jesus was born.
Read the story on pages 219 – 222 of The Praise Bible. Show them the pictures as you read the story.
Say: I would like to read to you some words that the prophet Isaiah said about Jesus.
Read Isaiah 9:6 from the Adventure Bible.
For 3rd - 6th grade:
Distribute Adventure Bibles. Have everyone find Isaiah 7:14. Have them use the table of contents to find Isaiah or tell them that Isaiah is three books after Psalms. Remind them of the quick way to find Psalms (opening the Bible in the middle).
Ask the students to follow along as you read Isaiah 7:14 (include the footnote that defines Immanuel as “God with us.")
Ask: What does the word “Immanuel” mean?
Have the students look at the “Did You Know” note on the top of page 760. (“What does the word Immanuel mean? The word Immanuel is a Hebrew name that means ‘God is with us.’ It is used here to refer eventually to Jesus, who would come to earth and truly be ‘God with us").
Say: Now let’s find the list of names of Jesus that Isaiah gave us.
Have students find Isaiah 9:6. Ask the students to follow along as you read Isaiah 9:6.
For all students:
Ask: Did you hear some names for Jesus? (in Isaiah 9:6)
What do these names tell us about Jesus?
What does it mean if Jesus is a Wonderful Counselor? (good listener, gives help)
What does it mean if Jesus is the Prince of Peace?
Say: Another name that we know for Jesus is “Savior.”
[Add the word “Savior” to the white board.]
Ask: If his name is Savior, then what does that mean?
What is he saving us from? (our sins)
Say: Immanuel was a name for Jesus. [Add “Immanuel” to the white board.]
Ask: What did Immanuel mean? (God with us)
What about “Messiah” – has anyone heard that name? [Add “Messiah” to the white board.]
Say: Messiah means “Anointed one” or “Christ.”
[Add “Anointed one” and “Christ” to the white board.]
Ask: What other names are there that you know for Jesus? (accept a couple more names, writing them on the white board. Examples: Good Shepherd, Holy One, Lamb of God, Son of Man, Son of God, Light of the World, King of kings).
Say: These names for Jesus help us understand Jesus. Today you can choose one of these names and create what is called an “illuminated manuscript.”
Show a sample in the library book.
Say: A long time ago books were made entirely by hand. Each letter of each word was written out by hand. This kind of hand-made book was called a manuscript.
Say: If a manuscript included colorful artwork, it was called an “illuminated manuscript.” The word “illuminate” refers to light. Illuminated manuscripts used bright colors and even thin layers of real gold! The gold made the pages seem to light up!
Point out in the example books how the first letter in a paragraph was larger and decorative. Show designs in the margins.
Pass out paper and supplies. Allow students to design their own illuminated manuscript of a name for Jesus. They can use any name for Jesus – they are not restricted to only Isaiah 9:6. Encourage everyone to plan their design on scrap paper before they start!
If desired they may wish to cut the paper in half length-wise.
For 4th-6th grade:
Allow students to use the gold or silver paint to embellish their creations. Pour small quantities onto meat trays.
Discussion: (while the students are working)
Say: Immanuel means “God with us.”
Ask: When have you seen Jesus as God with you?
Say: Isaiah was a prophet.
Ask: What is a prophet? (God’s messenger)
For 3rd- 6th grade:
Ask: If a prophet is God’ messenger, what does prophecy mean?
Say: Prophecy is the message from God that a prophet brings to the people.
Isaiah is just one of many prophets in the Old Testament. The books of the
Old Testament written by prophets are all in a collection called “Prophecy.” If you brought your own Bible today be sure that you receive a tab for the Prophecy section of your Bible.
Say: Often times the messages that prophets got from God, was bad news to the people. It was a “shape up or else” type of message warning people about their behavior. As a result prophets were not very well liked. But sometimes prophets also brought messages of hope.
Ask: What was one of Isaiah’s hopeful messages? (that a Savior would be born)
Say: The people living at the time of Jesus’ birth had been waiting for a Savior for hundreds of years.
Ask: Do you think about Jesus as mighty or wonderful or everlasting?
Say: Our days can be so busy. We can end up hardly thinking about God and Jesus.
Say: We need to remember Isaiah’s views of a mighty God to empower us to deal with our problems and concerns.
Say: The oldest existing illuminated manuscripts were made around 1,600 years ago. They were made on calfskin. In those days monks made books by copying each word by hand. It is thought that the decorative work in illuminated manuscripts came about because the monks were bored! Who wouldn’t be bored with the job of repeatedly copying text?
Say: Isaiah also wrote about the sufferings and the death of Jesus and explains that Jesus would die for our sins! God certainly had a plan for Jesus!
Give students a 5-minute and a 2-minute warning before clean-up needs to occur.
Some samples of art created by our students.
(Click on photos to view larger size.)
Ask everyone to share his/her artwork with the class. Tell why they choose to create using that name for Jesus. What significance does that name hold for them?
- The Book of Kells: reproductions from the manuscript in Trinity College, Dublin. Thames and Hudson, 1974. (This book is a great resouce if you can get your hands on it! ISBN: 9780500232132).
- “Illuminated Manuscripts.” Philadelphia Museum of Art Division of Education. 2001.
- Merten, Cindy. “Rotation.org Writing Team Lessons On The Birth Of Jesus Through The Eyes Of Isaiah: Art Lesson.” Rotation.org. 2002. Link
- Williamson, Marianne. Illuminated Prayers. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997.
- Wilson, Elizabeth B. Bibles and Bestiaries: A Guide To Illuminated Manuscripts. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1994.
Lesson written by Carol Hulbert for First United Methodist Church
Ann Arbor, MI 48104, in 2009
If you use this material, even in a modified form, please include the following reference:
Hulbert, Carol. Jesus’ Birth through the Eyes of Isaiah: Art Workshop." Dec. 2009. Place URL where lesson found inside angle brackets<>.
Illuminated Manuscript images are from the Book of Kells (a 1200 year old book in public domain), via Wikimedia Commons. Other photos copyright FUMC Ann Arbor, MI
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