The week after I hype the kids up on sugar with our Jesus’ Family Tree lesson, I have the poor kids be completely silent in our Sunday School class because Zechariah couldn’t talk during the birth of John the Baptist, poor kids.
Yeah, I don’t really feel sorry for them.
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What can we learn from the Birth of John the Baptist?
It’s interesting to me to compare the announcement of Jesus’ birth and the announcement of John’s birth. Zechariah gets the news, and he doesn’t believe at first, and he can’t speak for nine months. Mary gets the news and doesn’t believe, but then understands and praises God. I always feel sorry for Zechariah, there’s something missing in the explanation given in the Bible because he has a similar response to Mary and she gets to keep speaking. I wonder if his response went like this: “Are you crazy God? My wife is ancient, and I’m no spring chicken,” and his response was rude and sarcastic. Whereas Mary’s was more of trying to gain more information. I’ve heard many sermons preached this way, but I just don’t know for sure what’s going on here. If anyone can give me good evidence on the difference I’d love to hear it.
But the big thing I notice when I read this part of the Bible, Mary’s willingness to be used by God. This is a poor country girl, yes girl because she was probably in her early teens, and engaged to be married. God said, “You’re going to have a baby,” and Mary knew full well what that might mean, and she still said, “Yes God, I will serve you.” That’s guts, gumption, however you want to phrase it, she’s got it. This is next week’s lesson, but her decision nearly costs her everything.
I haven’t been in a position where following God will cause major sacrifices, but I’d like to think I’d be willing to make them. I won’t know until I’m in that position.
Birth of John the Baptist activities
Zechariah was mute for nine months, or somewhere around that time. I’m betting he got really good at charades during that time, so I always like to have the kids play charades. I try to give them Christmas related ideas to act out, but it’s fun to see what they do. In case you’re wondering here’s what we came up with: sheep, cow, angel, dog, bat (because they were in a cave for the stable), shepherd, Mary, Joseph, donkey, wise men, chicken (because of course a stable will also have a chicken)
This is going to seem a little strange, but stay with me for a moment. At the start of the story Zechariah is sacrificing to God for Israel’s sins, or one of the many other required sacrifices. I drew the parallel from that to what Jesus did on the cross. We all sat there and wrote our sins on a piece of scrap paper. Then we tore it up into small pieces and burned those pieces in a can. This is to show how thoroughly and completely God has destroyed our sin because of what Jesus did on the cross. Now I can’t do this with my current Sunday School class which has been known to get up to 40 kids, but I would do it with a class of around 15 or so.
Birth of John the Baptist resources
There’s some fun stuff to do with this lesson, and not too surprisingly everyone loves to share about such a happy miracle.
- Christmas Story unit (where this lesson is from)
- Birth of John the Baptist printable
- Birth of John the Baptist lesson
- Is this a joke God? John the Baptist lesson