Jesus Blesses the Children

Sunday school lessons based on Mark 10:13 – 16

  • Art - children are traced on paper and then paint the mural of themselves.
  • Cooking - re-create a party, make party hats
  • Drama - make Paper Bag Puppet of Jesus and re-enact story.
  • Movie/Video - Homeward Bound
  • Computer - Play & Learn (Younger), Crosswords & Word Games (Older)


Bible Background: Mark 10:13 –16
Mark’s Gospel shares the story of Jesus blessing children. The blessing of Jesus is seen as a special gift to be sought by parents for their children. It is also a sign of the Kingdom of God and entrance into it.

The story begins with the following scene: Jesus is teaching the crowd about important life issues (including marriage, relationships and divorce). During this time parents were bringing their children to him so that he would bless them. Like many great teachers, leaders or holy persons, a simple touch was seen as healing and sacred. As the scene continues Jesus’ disciples “rebuke” the parents. Perhaps they felt they were wasting Jesus time or simply bothering him. Or maybe they wanted to control access to their teacher.

Jesus sees the disciples turning the parents and children away. He has a forceful reaction. He is “indignant”. He immediately instructs his followers to let the children come to him. Never refuse them access. For Jesus declares that “the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Jesus goes on to teach a central tenet of the Christian faith. He taught that “anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” We will explore this teaching in greater depth in the Spiritual Leadership Preparation session and throughout the workshops.

The scene concludes with Jesus taking the children in his arms and blessing them. This remains as an historic event in the inclusion of all peoples as equal and loved in God’s sight and kingdom.

Key Verse: Mark 10:14b
“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”

Key Themes: Children Show The Way To The Kingdom of God
Mark’s offering of Jesus blessing the children opens to us the following central themes and so much more:

  1. We are to bring our children to Jesus so that he might bless them. Believing parents are encouraged to follow the example of the parents in the story and seek to introduce Jesus to their children and to draw them near to him so that they may receive his blessing on their lives.
  2. The church, the disciples of Jesus are not to refuse access to Jesus to anyone particularly the “little ones”. Christian followers and communities are not to erect walls, barriers, rules or practises that restrict people of all ages and experiences from coming to know Jesus better or to share in the blessings he shares.
  3. The kingdom of God belongs to those who are like little children. The gifts of being childlike are lifted up in this teaching. Jesus reveals that we will come to know and share in the kingdom of God only when we allow ourselves to be more childlike in our faith. Trusting, needing the care of others, open to discovery, playful, and so much more are ways to begin to describe the unique gifts of a child’s perspective on life.
  4. If we come to him like children Jesus will hold us and bless us. The passage ends with the emotional scene of Jesus welcoming the children, taking them in his arms and sharing a holy moment of lasting blessing. We can only imagine the excitement of the children and the joy of their parents. We pray that the disciples were transformed and converted by the compassion they witnessed that day.


Theme Prayers
Gracious Heavenly Father, hear our prayers. We come to you today seeking your blessing. Welcome us, take us in your arms, and hold us close both now and until your kingdom comes. We have heard how you told your disciples to never refuse those who wish to come close to you. Help us to welcome others with open arms. Teach us the ways of your kingdom as we learn from little children how we are to live as your followers. Amen.

Dear God, thank you for blessing our lives. We know that you love us and hold us close. You welcome children of all ages to your heavenly celebrations, your kingdom party. Prepare us Lord Jesus to share the Good News of your kingdom every day. Amen.

Theme Music:
“When Mothers of Salem” (Book of Praise – tells story)
“Jesus Friend of Little Children” (Book of Praise)


Spiritual Leadership Preparation:

  1. Begin your spiritual journey with prayer. Pray to God for openness and understanding. Ask Jesus to teach you the ways of the kingdom. Seek the presence of the Holy Spirit in this moment, throughout your preparation and in your times of teaching and leading others.
  2. Read Mark 10:13-16. Now read it again being sensitive to your emotions or feelings as you experience the story. What are you feeling? What has triggered these emotions? Share with a spiritual partner your insights.
  3. Review the Jesus Blesses the Children Bible Background. Focus on the Key Themes. What are the central teachings of this story for you? Which themes are most inviting to explore? Why? Which are most difficult to delve into? Why?
  4. Think of you childhood memories of church. How were children included/excluded from community life? How have things changed/remained the same?
  5. If you could teach someone about the difference being blessed by Jesus makes in your life, where would you start? What would you say or do?
  6. Pretend you are a child again. Imagine Jesus being present with you. What would you say or do in that moment?
  7. Read the Bible Background (above) once more. Pray that God will prepare you to be more childlike as you share the Good News with others.



Arts and Crafts Workshop

"Disciples Designs"

Summary of Lesson Activities:

Create “Children of the Kingdom Murals” - trace outlines of children on paper and then have children paint a mural of themselves.

For scripture and objectives - see above.


Leader Preparation:

  1. Review the “Jesus Blesses the Children” Bible Background.
  2. Read and reread Mark 10:13-16
  3. Share in a time of spiritual discovery by using the Spiritual Leadership Preparation process with a group, a spiritual partner, or alone.
  4. Reflect on the Key Themes of the study. How would you share those with children? With others?
  5. In the Disciples Design studio you will be helping the children to create “Children of the Kingdom Murals”. The process is described below. Be creative. Adapt and change the media used, or the method suggested.
    Remember we are modelling for the your artist the acceptance of God which offers us a special life-giving blessing.
  6.  Gather your craft supplies. For fun, experiment with your children or others. Share the murals with grandparents or older neighbors.
  7. Prepare the craft studio for your creative time of learning.
  8. Pray for the young learners and for the wisdom to offer God gift of grace to them.


Presentation

Opening - Welcome and Lesson Introduction:

Welcome the young artisans to Disciples’ Designs. Invite them to feel a special blessing from God as they share in a time of discovery.
Share artists’ shirts with the crafters to help keep the paint on the outside.
Tell them about the project they will be creating, the ‘Children of the Kingdom Murals’.

Dig - Main Content and Reflection:

Read Mark 10:13-16.

Invite the artists to talk about how they would have felt when Jesus took them in their arms and blesses them. With older children, discuss what it might have felt like when the disciples would not let them near Jesus; what emotions were in the air when Jesus saw what was going on and intervened.

It’s time for mural creation. Ask the artists to lay on the large mural paper/newsprint. Have one of the other students, a youth helper or the teacher trace the “child of blessing”. Once a child’s outline is traced, them invite the artists to paint/colour the outline of their body. Then ask them to with more detail paint the heads… face, hair, etc. Finally, ask each artist to paint their name in large letters on their Child of the Kingdom mural figure.

Once all the murals have dried, display them throughout the Design studio and the church.

Closing:

  1. Share with the young crafters how the mural represents the great variety of people of all shapes and sizes who God welcomes into the kingdom of God.
  2. Celebrate God acceptance and open arms loving by inviting the artists to open up their arms and accept others like God does.
  3. Share a simple blessing with the children. As you say “God loves you” touch each child gently on the head.
  4. Close with one of the Theme Prayers.
  5. Go out feeling blessed and welcomed into the kingdom.



Cooking Workshop

"Sam's Place"

Summary of Lesson Activities:

Celebrate Jesus blessing your life by hosting a “Kingdom Children’s Party” – it’s a make you own celebration event!

For scripture and objectives - see above.


Leader Preparation:

  1. Review the “Jesus Blesses the Children” Bible Background.
  2. Read and reread Mark 10:13-16. As you read focus on the whole story scene. Imagine yourself in the crowd.
  3. Complete the Spiritual Preparation exercises with a group, a prayer partner, a friend or alone with God. Reflect on the importance of this story for a Christian disciple.
  4. Review the following lesson plan for the Cooking Workshop. As you will discover, this time at Sam’s Place we will be sharing a Kingdom Children’s Party with our young chefs. The details are in the Good News intro below.
  5. Reflect on your best memories of children’s parties, either as a child or as an adult with children. Now imagine we are preparing for the best party ever. Then imagine again that it will be one hundred times or maybe one thousand times better. Now you are beginning to imagine what the kingdom party might be like. Dream about what we would need to help host such a party.
  6. Gather party things for the young chefs to choose from when hold their party. Get a variety of party hats, noisemakers, balloons (watch with the little ones!), streamers, party treats (junk food, etc.!), a cake…
  7. Set up a plain table in Sam’s Place and pray for our chefs creativity and engagement with the story.
  8. Prepare to have fun! If you want to dress-up in a costume or like a clown or a waiter at a party theme restaurant, go for it!
  9. And in all things be prayerful.


Presentation

Opening - Welcome and Lesson Introduction:

  1. Welcome the young chefs to Sam’s Place – home of the Good Samaritan Inn and Diner.
  2. Share with them the good news that they have been invited to the “Kingdom Children’s Party”. Jesus has extended the invitation for all children to come and celebrate in his kingdom.
  3. Invite everyone to get to know each others name before the party begins. Strangers and friends can celebrate together.


Dig - Main Content and Reflection:

  1. Read Mark 10:13-16. Invite the children to imagine Jesus taking them on his knee, or in his arms, or simply placing his hand on their heads and blessing them. Imagine going with Jesus to the best party ever. Imagine heaven and what it will be like. Imagine!!!
  2. Now invite the chefs to help plan and create a Kingdom Children’s Party. They can use any of the supplies you have gathered or perhaps create their own party hats… Remember it’s close to Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day and Easter. A birthday party is a year round fun party possibility.
  3. Have the chefs set the table. Decorate the room. Put on their party hats, etc. And get ready to celebrate. Remember music always helps to liven up a party. Bring along a CD player and CD’s. Again let the children choose the party sounds.
  4. Now its time for the party to begin. Say a thankfulness prayer or grace to start the party. Invite the chefs to say their favorite grace. Enjoy the pop and chips and party treats. Play games if you wish. Remind them that Jesus said the kingdom of God would be like this and that we would need to come as a child to enter God’s Kingdom.


Closing:

  1. Read the Key Verse again.
  2. Share one of the Theme Prayers with the chefs.
  3. Invite them to go out seeking to enter the kingdom of God.
  4. May you go in peace.



Drama Workshop

"Apostles' Acting Company"

Summary of Lesson Activities:

Make simple Jesus Hand Puppets and explore how we can always be close to Jesus, talking with him, being blessed by him.

For scripture and objectives - see above.


Leader Preparation:

  1. Review the “Jesus Blesses the Children” Bible Background.
  2. Read and reread Mark 10:13-16.
  3. Share in a spiritual exploration time by using the Spiritual Leadership Preparation resources. This can be experienced individually or in a small group. Allow yourself to get inside the story and its meaning and importance for you and your faith journey.
  4. Careful read the lesson below. In summary we are going to make simple paper bag hand puppets of Jesus to use in our "faith explosion" moment. Remember this is not an arts and crafts workshop. So the focus should not be on the quality of the puppet produced but rather on how the puppet helps the young actors explore the importance of being close to Jesus.
  5. Gather the materials you will need for the paper bag puppets. Make your own Jesus puppet to get familiar with him. Puppets often can say what we cannot openly express. Let yourself find your voice. Everyone has an inner voice – sometimes it is harder to release when we get older. But, don’t give up! [Moderator's note: view hints on making paper bag puppets.
  6. Prepare yourself to share the story of Jesus Blessing the Children with the young actors.
  7. Pray for God’s wisdom and inspiration.


Presentation

Opening - Welcome and Lesson Introduction:

  1. Welcome the young actors to Apostles Acting Co.
  2. Share with them news and highlights of the story we are going to discover together.
  3. Ask them if they have a puppet at home or have ever made one. Then tell them today is the day to make a super simple paper bag Jesus puppet and to discover what it is like know that you always have Jesus near.
  4. Pray with them one of the Theme Prayers


Dig - Main Content and Reflection:

  1. Create simple paper bag puppets of Jesus. Using school lunch bags have the actors draw the face of Jesus (eyes, nose, mouth, hair and beard, etc.) on the bags. Keep it simple. Take no more than five minutes for the puppet making. Paper bag puppet
  2. Invite the actors to have their puppets speak like they think Jesus spoke. Encourage each child to find a “voice.” Note: it can be their own or a special sounding voice. Remind the actors no put downs are allowed at the Acting Co. It is to be a safe place for all and every voice is a sound from God.
  3. Now read Mark 10:13-16. If you wish you can use your puppet to do the Jesus parts.
  4. Invite the actors to repeat the sayings of Jesus from the lesson. It might help to write them out on poster board and display them.
  5. Now ask the actors to imagine what it would be like to be able to be close to Jesus all the time. In this story Jesus invites the children near and promises that they will be with him forever, even and especially in the kingdom.
  6. If time allows, ask the actors to use their Jesus puppets to speak with Jesus about living with him and discovering his kingdom.


Closing:

  1. Give thanks for the Good News that Jesus invites children of all ages to come to him and be blessed by him. Give thanks for the special blessing of sharing the morning in the Acting Co.
  2. Remind the actors to keep their Jesus puppets close to them. For Jesus is always near.
  3. Go out in peace.



Video Workshop

"Sower's Cinema"

Summary of Lesson Activities:

Using excerpts from the movie Homeward Bound show how our journey to the kingdom of God is like the story of finding our way home.

For scripture and objectives - see above.


Leader Preparation:

  1. Review the ‘Jesus Blesses the Children’ Bible Background.
  2. Read and reread Mark 10:13-16.
  3. Explore and journey through the Spiritual Leadership Preparation resources. This resource is designed for group study or individual reflection. Open yourself to delve into the many levels of this story and how it meets our story.
  4. One of the key themes of this study is how Jesus will always open the doors of the kingdom of God for those who seek to come ‘home’. The wanderers who roam will meet a Savior who greets them with open arms. To help discover more about this theme and the rest of the story, we invite you to use the excerpts from the family movie Homeward Bound listed on the attached sheet. If time allowed or you were using this for a family night, midweek group or a retreat, you could watch the complete movie. the movie Homeward Bound. [Moderator's note: The "attached sheet" is unfortunately not available. If someone uses this video, please come back and post the scenes you would choose to show. This video can be viewed on YouTube; trailer here. ]
  5. Pop and bag the popcorn and prepare the cinema for our theatregoers.
  6. Pray for the young movie watchers that together you may discover the joy of being blessed by God.


Presentation

Opening - Welcome and Lesson Introduction:

  1. Welcome the moviegoers to Sower’s Cinema.
  2. Tell them about the story of Jesus blessing the children. Perhaps you may wish to read the Key Verse.
  3. Share the popcorn and dim the lights. It’s movie time!!!


Dig - Main Content and Reflection:

  1. Briefly explain how the story of “Homeward Bound”, the movie, is an example of how important going home can be for all of God’s creatures.
  2. Begin to watch the movie segments described on the attached sheet. Enjoy the movie and your time of discovery.


Closing:

Share one of the theme prayers.
Go in peace knowing that Jesus is already ready to welcome us.




Computer Workshop

"Parables Power Centre"

Summary of Lesson Activities:

Discover “Jesus Blesses the Children” on Play and Learn CD, as well as Expert Software. [Editor's Note: Resource info in this post was either updated or removed as out-of-date. New information has been added by the editor.]

For scripture and objectives - see above.


Leader Preparation:

  1. Read and reflect on “Jesus Blesses the Children” Bible Background.
  2. Read the scripture reading from Mark 10:13-16, and reflect on the key themes and prayers.
  3. Review the lesson plan in detail. Consider ways to adapt the workshop depending on the age group of the participants.
  4. If possible, try to review the software in advance to assist children in working on the computer (Crosswords and Word Games for children in grade 3 up and the Play & Learn Children’s Bible for the younger children).


Presentation

Opening - Welcome and Lesson Introduction:

Welcome the “explorers” to the Parables Power Centre. Introduce yourself and have the children introduce themselves to ensure that new children are able to get to know others (and you get to know everyone too!).
Encourage each class member to share the keyboard and mouse with fellow “explorers” at his or her computer station. With growing class sizes this is very important.

Dig - Main Content and Reflection:

  1. Read the scripture lesson from Mark 10:13-16.
  2. Review the Key Verse and have the children repeat it with you. Ask the children if they can pick out some of the key themes of the story, there are many!! Let the children know that they are always welcome and loved by Jesus. Remind them that if they are ever feeling sad and lonely, to remember Jesus and his love for them.
  3. Pray the age appropriate prayer with the children.


For older Children (Grade 3 and up) use the Bible Crosswords CD or Bible Word Search CD (from Sunday Software).

Go over the story having the kids identify "key words". Write these on the board. Some words are: Jesus, Blesses, children, mothers, disciples, come, Kingdom, God, child, let, belongs, little, arms. Have the kids create a wordsearch puzzle for these words.

For younger children, use the Play and Learn CD.

  1. Insert the Play and Learn CD. Click on the Values marker. Click on the Love marker and then click on “Jesus Loves Children”.
  2. You will be asked if you want the story to be told. Click “Yes” on one computer only, and no on the others. This will avoid the reading being slightly out of synch on each computer.
  3. After each frame the student must click on the forward arrow to advance the story.
  4. At the end of the story, the computer asks you if you would like to tell Jesus You Love Him? Try to encourage the children to say at the same time that “We love you Jesus”.
  5. When the story is completed, discuss the story. Compare it to what you had earlier read in the bible. If there is time, click back to the game room to play games. Encourage everyone to share the mouse and the computer now.


Closing:

Remind the children how special they are in the Kingdom of God, and send them out in peace.


This lesson set was posted by Kathy Smit, St. Paul's Presbyterian Church, Ingersoll, ON, Canada

A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.

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Hi Michele,

Sorry, but the attached sheet was never provided. 
If you do watch the video and create a list of scenes to watch, please come back here and share it!

I have updated this lesson to indicate the lack of the handout.
-- Carol

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