Knowledge, Week 1
Boy Jesus at the Temple
Knowing God is the most important thing.
Every year, Jesus’ family traveled from the tiny town of Nazareth to the city of Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Passover. The trip took nearly a week of walking
over dusty roads. Jesus probably ran back and forth, playing games and talking with cousins and friends as they traveled.
“Just come back to gather firewood when we stop for the evening,” Mary might have called out to remind Him.
“Yes, Mother!” Jesus would have responded.
The year Jesus was 12, Mary may have spent the long hours of the journey lost in thought, wondering just who her Son would become. The angel Gabriel had told her Jesus was God’s Son. Angels had announced His birth. But her Son had learned to walk and talk like a normal child. He worked with Joseph in the carpenter shop, and did the things His parents asked Him to do.
“Mom?” Jesus said. “We started the fire.”
“What? Oh!” Mary was pulled from her thoughts as she realized they’d already reached their campsite by the river. Jesus and one of His cousins had run ahead to start a small fire for their evening meal.
“Thank You!” Mary told Him, grateful she could rest soon. “We’ll be able to eat more quickly now.”
The following day, Jesus and His family reached Jerusalem, along with thousands of other people. They probably stayed with relatives in the city. All week, they celebrated the Passover, and shared a special meal together on the last evening.
As they ate roast lamb, they remembered and retold the story of how God had rescued them from slavery in Egypt. A child probably would have asked: “Why do we eat this meal every year?”
“We were slaves in Egypt,” one of the older relatives would have responded, “and the Lord took us out from there with a strong hand and with an outstretched arm.”
The next morning, Jesus’ family packed up and joined the crowds flowing back out of Jerusalem. When Mary and Joseph reached their usual evening campsite, they looked around for Jesus. He was nowhere in sight.
“Probably gathering firewood,” suggested Joseph.
“There’s Ethan,” said Mary. “Ethan, have you seen Jesus?”
“Nope,” replied Jesus’ friend.
“Didn’t He eat lunch with your family?” asked Mary, growing worried.
Ethan shook his head. “Haven’t seen Him all day.”
Mary and Joseph hurried through the crowd, searching and calling out for Jesus. At last, they had realized the truth: Jesus had been left behind in Jerusalem.
After a nearly sleepless night, Mary and Joseph rushed back along the road toward Jerusalem. The city seemed large and empty now the Passover crowds were gone.
For three days, Mary and Joseph searched for their Son— at the swimming hole, in the stables, at the marketplace.
Anywhere they could think of.
At last, Mary and Joseph turned their eyes to the one place they hadn’t looked: the temple. Exhausted, they climbed the hill to the imposing place of worship and entered the courtyard. It was much quieter here, now that Passover had finished.
Ahead, they saw a group of bearded teachers . . . and seated among the group before them, a young Boy, listening intently and asking questions. It was Jesus.
Amazed, Mary and Joseph hurried to their Son, hugging and scolding Him at the same time. “Son, why have you treated us like this?” cried Mary. “Your father and I have been worried about you. We have been looking for you everywhere.”
Jesus studied them. “Why were you looking for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”
Jesus is God’s Son, and He knew it was vital to discover all He could about God. But His parents didn’t understand— though Mary continued to wonder and think about it in her heart.
“Please don’t ever scare us like this again!” she told Him.
Jesus went home with His parents and did everything they asked of Him. He became even wiser and grew stronger. In all He did, He became more pleasing to God and to the people around Him.
Even though Jesus is God’s Son, He had to grow and learn, just like you do!
And of all the things Jesus studied, from doing carpentry work with Joseph to helping Mary, discovering what God says was the most important. Take a few minutes and make a list of things that you know God says are important. If you aren’t sure, that’s okay! In fact, there’s one thing that God says is most important to know. It’s something Jesus said when He grew up: “Love one another . . . just as I have loved you” (John 13:34, NIrV). When you know that, and ask God to help
you discover what it means, you’re on the way to the most important knowledge you’ll ever have. Pray for each other, that God will help you learn how to love others, and that He’ll show you the best way to put it into practice.
Knowledge, Week 2
John 1:19-42, John 3:22-36
If you want to know God, start with Jesus.
John the Baptizer, Jesus’ cousin, was a wild man.
Thirty years before, the angel Gabriel had told Zechariah that he and Elizabeth would have a son—a boy named John who would be filled with God’s Spirit and prepare people’s hearts for God.
John, just six months older than Jesus, grew to be a strong and forceful young man. He lived in the desert, wore clothing made from camel’s hair, and snacked on wild locusts and honey.
“Turn away from your sins!” he warned everyone. “The kingdom of heaven has come near!”
People streamed out from Jerusalem and the whole region of Judea to see the show, and many listened. They confessed the wrong things they had done and said they wanted to change. John baptized these people in the murky water of the Jordan River as a sign that from now on, their lives would be different.
“I baptize people with water,” John told them. “But after me, someone is coming who is more powerful than I am.”
The Jewish religious leaders heard tales of this dynamic new guy on the scene. They sent priests and teachers to discover just who John was.
“Who are you?” the priests demanded to know. “Are you the One God promised to rescue us?”
“I am not the Messiah,” replied John. “Are you Elijah?”
“Give us an answer!” they commanded.
“I’m just a messenger,” John explained. “But someone is standing among you whom you do not know. He is the one who comes after me. I am not good enough to untie his sandals.”
In fact, God had told John, “You will see the Spirit come down and remain on someone. He is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.”
Around this time, Jesus Himself came down to the Jordan River and asked John to baptize Him.
“What? No!” cried John. “I need to be baptized by you. So why do you come to me?”
“Let it be this way for now,” said Jesus. “It is right for us to do this. It carries out God’s holy plan.”
So John dipped Jesus down into the Jordan. As Jesus rose up out of the water, God sent His Spirit to rest on Him like a dove.
A voice from heaven echoed, “This is my Son, and I love him. I am very pleased with him.”
John recalled God’s words and knew the truth: Jesus was God’s Chosen One!
The next day he spotted Jesus walking past and told two of his followers and announced, “Look! The Lamb of God!”
Unlike the religious leaders, these men were quick to hear the truth about Jesus. They hurried after Him. One of them, Andrew, called out, “Rabbi!”
Jesus turned to the two men. “What do you want?” He asked.
“Rabbi, where are you staying?” wondered Andrew. “Come,” said Jesus. “You will see.”
Andrew and his friend followed Jesus and spent the rest of the day with Him. They were so amazed by Jesus that Andrew immediately went and told his brother, Simon Peter.
“We have found the Messiah,” exclaimed Andrew.
Peter was on board right away, too. “What?!” he cried. “I want in.
Take me to meet this Jesus.”
Simon Peter and Andrew heard the truth about Jesus and followed Him.
The religious leaders heard the truth and didn’t believe it. But some of John’s followers heard what he had to say . . . and didn’t seem to like it.
Several of them came to John and grumbled, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan River is baptizing people. He is the one you told us about. Everyone is going to him.”
“You yourselves are witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah. I was sent ahead of him,’” John pointed out. “He must become more important. I must become less important.”
“Well, yeah,” John’s followers grudgingly agreed. “But are you, like, okay with it?”
“The Father loves the Son and has put everything into his hands,” John told them. “Anyone who believes in the Son has eternal life.”
John had spent his life listening to God—so he discovered the truth about Jesus and shared it with everyone he met. And everyone who truly listened knew that Jesus was the One to follow.
What do you think it means to follow Jesus?
Take a few minutes and share with each other. It’s okay if you don’t have all the answers! Here’s the cool thing: the more you learn about what God says—through His Words recorded by the Bible writers, through wise people who follow God, even through what God speaks directly to your heart—the easier it becomes to follow Jesus. And the best place to start? Jesus says that people will know we follow Him by our love for one another! Share with each other a question you have about what it means to follow Jesus. Then commit to studying or asking someone to start finding an answer to your question this week. Pray for each other, that God will show you what it means to follow Jesus in your ordinary, everyday lives.
Knowledge, Week 3
Jesus Is Tempted in the Desert
Discovering what's in the Bible can help you make the wise choice.
After His remarkable birth, Jesus spent most of His years growing up in Nazareth. To others, He probably looked like any Jewish boy.
He ran and played with the other kids.
He worked in the carpentry shop with His father, Joseph.
And as He grew older, He studied God’s Word, part of what we know as the Old Testament.
“Worship the Lord your God. He is the only one you should serve,” Jesus read.
It was not until Jesus came to the Jordan River to be baptized by John that others began to see how extraordinary He was.
“This is my Son, and I love him,” said a voice from heaven as Jesus rose from the water. “I am very pleased with him.”
Thirty years of life had led Jesus to this point, where God Himself announced that Jesus was the Chosen One. It must have seemed the perfect time for Jesus to begin doing miracles and gathering followers.
But that’s not what happened.
Instead, God’s Spirit led Jesus . . . into the desert. For 40 long days.
During this time, Jesus ate nothing. He focused on God as the one thing He needed above all else.
At the end of 40 days, when Jesus was gripped by hunger . . . the Devil showed up.
“You must be hungry,” crooned the Devil. “So hungry.” It was true. Jesus desperately needed food.
“You are human,” pointed out the Devil. “After all.” Then he offered Jesus a smooth, heavy rock.
“If you are the Son of God,” wheedled the Devil, “tell this stone to become bread.”
Jesus stared at the round stone. As God’s Son, He could have easily turned it into a crusty, warm loaf of bread. He could have torn off large, chewy pieces to instantly satisfy His hunger. But He knew every word God had spoken.
Jesus answered directly and clearly, “It is written, ‘Man must not live only on bread.’”
“Suit Yourself,” sneered the Devil. But he wasn’t finished. He led Jesus to a high place where the whole world appeared to spread out beneath them.
Every powerful kingdom.
Every throne of every ruler on Earth.
The Devil smiled. He seemed reasonable. In control. “I will give you all their authority and glory,” he offered. “It has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.”
Jesus didn’t flinch. He knew that He would rule all those kingdoms . . . but that to take this easy way offered by the Devil would lead to disaster.
“It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God. He is the only one you should serve,’” Jesus said.
The Devil narrowed his eyes and readied his last shot. He led Jesus to the city of Jerusalem, where they stood on the very highest point of the temple itself. The worshippers far below looked as small as beetles.
The Devil smirked. “If you are the Son of God . . . throw yourself down from here. It is written, ‘The Lord will command his angels to take good care of you. They will lift you up in their hands. Then you won’t trip over a stone.’”
The Devil’s true question seemed to hang in the air:
“Does God really love You? Prove it!”
But once again, Jesus had God’s own words at the ready.
“Scripture says, ‘Do not test the Lord your God,’” he told the Devil.
The Devil seethed with rage—but he couldn’t trap Jesus. So he finally gave up and left . . . until his next good chance.
When the Devil was gone, God sent angels to take care of Jesus and provide everything He needed. Because Jesus had spent His whole life discovering what God said, He was ready when it came time to make a wise choice.
Take a few minutes and think about the last time you had to make a hard choice.
It might be as simple as whether to set aside your game to help your little brother with his reading. Or as big as which school to go to. Share with each other about your decision. How did you make your choice? Here’s the awesome thing—the more we know about what God says, the easier it is to make wise choices. God tells us to love one another. Respect our parents. Be generous. And so much more. The more you learn, the better prepared you are when you have to make a tough decision. Pray for each other, that any time you face a difficult choice, God will bring to mind the things you’ve learned about Him so that you can choose wisely.
Knowledge, Week 4
Jesus and John the Baptist
If you don't understand something about God, ask.
ohn the Baptist had been sent to prepare the way for Jesus. “I’m just a messenger,” he told the crowds. “But someone is standing among you whom you do not know. . . . I am not good enough to untie his sandals.”
Then Jesus came to John and asked to be baptized, saying, “Let it be this way for now. It is right for us to
do this. It carries out God’s holy plan.” God Himself confirmed to John and everyone else that Jesus was God’s Chosen One when a voice spoke from heaven, “This is my Son, and I love him. I am very pleased with him.”
John must have felt on top of the world. He was on the right track, doing exactly what God had called him to do.
But then . . . the story shifted.
John, outspoken as always, had dared speak truth to Herod, ruler of Galilee. John told Herod that he had done terribly wrong things against God. Herod refused to listen. Instead, he was so angry that he had John thrown in prison.
Just for speaking God’s truth, John was now stuck in jail. A few of his followers were allowed to visit, and they gave him all the news.
“So Jesus taught this incredible sermon on a mountainside,” they enthused. “And He’s healing all these people. Even a Roman soldier’s servant. And Peter’s mother-in-law. And we haven’t even told you the really impressive stuff yet!”
John listened in amazement. He was grateful to hear that Jesus was building His ministry. But it was tough not to see it for himself. “Wow,” he said at last. “That’s great! . . . for everyone else.”
It must have been difficult for John to make sense of the stories. Jesus was doing amazing things. But God had allowed John to be jailed, and there was no sign of rescue.
John couldn’t help asking, “So . . . we’re sure Jesus is the One God has sent?”
“There was that voice from Heaven,” pointed out one of his followers.
“Yeah,” sighed John, “but . . . if Jesus is it, why am I stuck here? I just need to know. Could you ask Him for me? Take Him a message.”
“What do we say?” asked his followers.
“Try this,” John instructed. “Are you the one who is
supposed to come? Or should we look for someone else?”
John’s followers left the prison cell and hurried along the dusty roads of Galilee to find Jesus. They were awed by the size of the crowds surrounding Him. As they watched, a man came leaping past, thrilled to be able to walk for the first time in his life. Nearby, a woman marveled that she could see again, and an elderly man was listening to voices and birdsong for the first time ever.
“It’s Jesus! He’s healed me!” they all cried out.
At last, John’s disciples reached Jesus. “Your cousin John sent us to ask you something,” they said. “Are you the one who is supposed to come? Or should we look for someone else?”
Jesus studied the two men. He took in the crowd of people—some laughing and crying for joy. Others shoving in, eager to be healed.
“Go back to John,” Jesus told them. “Report to him what you hear and see. Blind people receive sight. Disabled people walk. Those who have skin diseases are made ‘clean.’ Deaf people hear. Those who are dead are raised to life. And the good news is preached to those who are poor. Blessed is anyone who does not give up their faith because of me.”
John’s followers looked at the crowd around them once again. Everything Jesus had spoken was true. So they made their way back toward Herod’s prison.
Jesus’ response to John was clear—only God’s Son could have this kind of power. And God still loved and cared about John . . . even though he was stuck in prison.
What’s something that you’d like to know or learn? Share with each other.
There are so many things in this world to know and discover that you could spend your life learning and never even scratch the surface. Every day, you’re going to find yourself in situations where you don’t know exactly what to do or how to respond—or what God says about it. But the awesome thing is that God is bigger than all your questions. He will never get angry with you for anything you ask. So when you need wisdom—ask. You can study the Bible. You can ask wise people who follow God. And you can talk to God in prayer. He welcomes your questions. Share with each other a question you have for God right now. Then, together, ask Him those questions in prayer and trust that He will guide you to the answers in the right time.