Children's Challenge: Week 3
19–25 January 2015
Jesus wasn’t only teaching but he did lots of healing of people - people who couldn’t walk, see or speak or who were sick. You might like to try and find some of these stories.
Sometimes the people listening to Jesus didn’t quite understand, so Jesus used stories called ‘parables’ to communicate something important that he wanted them to remember.
Matthew 13:10–17 ‘Why Jesus used stories’
Jesus' disciples came to him and asked, ‘Why do you use nothing but stories when you speak to the people?’ Jesus answered: ‘I have explained the secrets about the kingdom of heaven to you, but not to others. Everyone who has something will be given more. But people who don’t have anything will lose even what little they have. I use stories when I speak to them because when they look, they cannot see, and when they listen, they cannot hear or understand.
‘So God’s promise came true, just as the prophet Isaiah had said, “These people will listen and listen, but never understand. They will look and look, but never see. All of them have stubborn minds! Their ears are stopped up, and their eyes are covered. They cannot see or hear or understand. If they could, they would turn to me, and I would heal them.”
‘But God has blessed you, because your eyes can see and your ears can hear! Many prophets and good people were eager to see what you see and to hear what you hear. But I tell you that they did not see or hear.’
Matthew 13:1–9 ‘A Story about a Farmer’
That same day Jesus left the house and went out beside Lake Galilee, where he sat down to teach. Such large crowds gathered around him that he had to sit in a boat, while the people stood on the shore. Then he taught them many things by using stories. He said: ‘A farmer went out to scatter seed in a field. While the farmer was scattering the seed, some of it fell along the road and was eaten by birds. Other seeds fell on thin, rocky ground and quickly started growing because the soil wasn’t very deep. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched and dried up, because they did not have enough roots. Some other seeds fell where thornbushes grew up and choked the plants. But a few seeds did fall on good ground where the plants produced a hundred or sixty or thirty times as much as was scattered. If you have ears, pay attention!’
Matthew 13:18–23 ‘Jesus Explains the Story about the Farmer’
‘Now listen to the meaning of the story about the farmer: The seeds that fell along the road are the people who hear the message about the kingdom, but don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches the message from their hearts. The seeds that fell on rocky ground are the people who gladly hear the message and accept it right away. But they don’t have deep roots, and they don’t last very long. As soon as life gets hard or the message gets them in trouble, they give up.
The seeds that fell among the thornbushes are also people who hear the message. But they start worrying about the needs of this life and are fooled by the desire to get rich. So the message gets choked out, and they never produce anything. The seeds that fell on good ground are the people who hear and understand the message. They produce as much as a hundred or sixty or thirty times what was planted.’
Matthew 13:31–33 ‘Stories about a Mustard Seed and Yeast’
Jesus told them another story: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like what happens when a farmer plants a mustard seed in a field. Although it is the smallest of all seeds, it grows larger than any garden plant and becomes a tree. Birds even come and nest on its branches.’
Jesus also said: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like what happens when a woman mixes a little yeast into three big batches of flour. Finally, all the dough rises.’
Matthew 13:44 ‘A Hidden Treasure’
The kingdom of heaven is like what happens when someone finds a treasure hidden in a field and buries it again. A person like that is happy and goes and sells everything in order to buy that field.
Matthew 13:45–46 ‘A Valuable Pearl’
The kingdom of heaven is like what happens when a shop owner is looking for fine pearls. After finding a very valuable one, the owner goes and sells everything in order to buy that pearl.
Jesus used stories and created word pictures to help people understand what the Kingdom of God was like. He wasn’t just talking about heaven but about what it could be like now to live a life with God, where we love him and follow the way he wants us to live.
If you read the first section above (Matthew 13:10–17) you will read about when Jesus was talking to the disciples about why he used stories; he said that some people were having trouble understanding the teaching about God’s Kingdom, but they might understand it better if Jesus used a story to explain it. I wonder if you can think of other stories that you know or have read that teach you something about God or how he wants us to live.
The readings for this week include four stories/parables that Jesus used to help people understand what the Kingdom of God and living a life with God is like.
- Choose one of the four stories and read it through a couple of times
- What stands out for you in this story? Draw a picture that shows this and helps you to explain to someone else what living a life with God is like.
- Share your picture with someone, or ask your parent/carer to put it on social media (they can use the #boundlessbible hashtag on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook - we'll share a selection on this page!)
Photos courtesy of FreeBibleImages.org