Helping Children See Jesus
My prayer for you this week has been patterned after Jesus’ own intercession in John 17: I’ve asked God to “keep us from the evil one” (verse 15), and to “sanctify us in the truth” (verse 17) in order that we “may all be one” (verse 20).
I had lunch with a man this week who is brand new to Northpoint, and one of the first things he had to tell me was how much his six-year-old granddaughter (also new to the church) enjoyed and appreciated her Sunday school teacher. Everyone embraced this little newcomer, which gave her a desire to return. She couldn’t stop talking about her experience.
Well, not only are kids kindly received in children’s ministries, but they are consistently pointed to Jesus by gifted and compassionate teachers. Under Terilyn Brown’s watchful eye, leaders at every level are lovingly told: Tell them about Jesus. With that in mind, I wanted to give you an example of the sort of Christ-centered instruction our kids regularly get. Below is the lesson taught last Sunday by CM volunteer, Lyle Bray.
Numbers 13 starts with the Lord speaking to Moses, the leader of over two million Israelites, as they prepare to enter the promised land: “Send men into the land I am giving you to check it out.” The land is a gift from the Lord. We need to concentrate on that word “gift.” It should remind us of John 3:16: “And God so loved the world that he gave. …” God is so gracious that he gave the Israelites the gift of the promised land. God is so gracious that he gave us the best and final gift, the gift of salvation from his justified punishment when we put our faith in Jesus, the object of our faith. We don’t put our faith in faith and we don’t put our faith in ourselves, we must put our faith and our trust in an object outside of ourselves and that object is a person: Jesus Christ!
Moses sent twelve men into the promised land for forty days to spy it out and answer questions about its people, its land, and to bring back some of its fruit. Numbers 13:23 says they returned from their aforementioned mission with grapes, pomegranates, and figs so big that they had to be carried on a pole between two men! Do we trust the Lord’s gift and the fruit of that gift (ultimately the Lord himself) to be anything but good? This fruit reminds us of Galatians 5:22 and the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The gifts of the Spirit!
The twelve reported back and Numbers 13:30 begins with Caleb telling the people that they should by all means go up and take the land, but ten of the twelve said the inhabitants were too big and made them feel like grasshoppers. Then Numbers 14:1-5 explains how the people began to complain about Moses and wanted to forcefully replace him with another leader that would take them back to Egypt. It is unbelievable that the Israelites would complain about God’s good gift and want to go back to a land of imprisonment and slavery, especially after all the miracles they had seen with their own eyes—who are they trusting here? We should not be quick to condemn the Israelites—sound like anyone we know? Would we do any differently?
In Numbers 14:5,17 we see Moses’ response: He is a mediator for the people. This should bring to mind the ultimate mediator, Jesus Christ. He lived a perfect life of obedience, died on a Friday, and rose on a Sunday. He is the final and only mediator a person needs.
We see God’s grace and a clear separation (a fence) between those that trust and those that do not in Numbers 14:20-24. God listens to Moses’ mediation and does not immediately and rightly destroy the people that complained about the good gift of his promised land. God says he will allow those that trusted him to see the promised land, but those that put him to the test will stay in the wilderness. Because of your disobedience, there will be a fence in the way for another forty years. God graciously allows the disobedient an opportunity to trust him. John 3:16 reminds us “that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life” and the fence of disobedience is removed.
Numbers 13 and 14 describe to us a gracious God, historically involved with his people. He has given us the gift of forever life in him Son Jesus Christ! Do we trust him?
I read an article today on the Gospel Coalition website that instructs “How Not to Teach Your Kids the Bible.” The number one thing to avoid, in the author‘s estimation: Teaching narratives as moralistic fables. I couldn’t agree more. Our kids need not hear repeatedly to “be more courageous like Joshua,” to “be more bold like David” or to “not be hard-headed like Jonah” (though all of these things may be true). Instead, we show them how the all the Scriptures are about Jesus (John 5:37). And we help them to see the incredible grace of our Savior, the sufficiency of Jesus’ work on the cross, the reality of his resurrection, and the peace we find in his forgiveness.
By his grace,