Nicodemus

Topic

Nicodemus

Aim

  • To help children learn that Christians believe they can know God because of the Holy Spirit.
  • To help them begin to understand what Christians believe about the Holy Spirit.

Things you’ll need

  • An electric fan
  • Some tissue paper

Bible Base

John 3:1-8

Content

1 Turn on the fan. Comment that it makes the air move rather like the wind. Ask the children if we can see the wind. Talk about the affects of the wind (eg leaves moving on the trees.) Hold the paper in front of the fan to demonstrate.

2 Ask for two volunteers who are good at running. Ask the children which of the two volunteers they think can run on the spot for the longest. Just as they are about to start, tell one of them that he/she must hold his breath! Give a commentary on them as they are running. Stop them after a few moments if they both keep going. Thank and congratulate both participants. Ask the one who had to hold his breath what difference it made.

3 Tell the children about the Greek word pneuma. Explain that it means three different things: wind, breath and spirit. Refer back to the two illustrations about wind and breath. Introduce the story of Nicodemus:

Nicodemus was a teacher– a very important teacher. He didn’t only teach children, he taught adults as well. His job was to teach people about God. He was an extremely important Jewish leader. Everybody respected Nicodemus. He knew all about God’s rules and what the people must do…and what they mustn’t do. Good old Nicodemus!

Then Nicodemus heard about Jesus. Everyone was talking about him. Nicodemus was curious: ‘I must go and find out about this man,’ he thought to himself. But he didn’t want anyone to know this, because he was supposed to be the teacher. So he started hanging around where Jesus was, pretending to be just passing by, but really, listening carefully to what Jesus said…and watching what Jesus was doing – miracles! Blind people could see, deaf people could hear, people with all kinds of illnesses were being made well. ‘There’s something very special about this man,’ thought Nicodemus. ‘No-one could do these miracles without God’s help. I’d like to have a chat with him.’

The trouble was that Jesus wasn’t very popular with lots of the other teachers. After all, Jesus hadn’t been to university and he was only a carpenter’s son. What gave him the right to teach people about God? The other teachers also didn’t like him because crowds of people followed Jesus everywhere he went. They all wanted to hear what Jesus was teaching, and that meant they weren’t listening to them any more.

‘I can’t go and see Jesus during the day,’ thought Nicodemus. ‘I’ll go and see him at night when no one else is around.’ So, one night Nicodemus went secretly to see Jesus. He knew that Jesus had something he hadn’t got and he wanted to know what it was.

Jesus told Nicodemus that anyone who really wants to know God needs to have the Spirit of God in him.

4 Explain that Christians often call God’s Spirit ‘the Holy Spirit’ and believe that they can know God because his Spirit is with them. Ask the children if they can remember what the Greek work pneuma means. (Answer: wind, breath, spirit).

5 Talk about how God’s Spirit is like wind and breath. Ask the children why the running competition was so difficult for one of them? (Answer: Because he didn’t have any breath in him!)

Application

A Christian viewpoint

Christians believe that in order to live a life that pleases God, you need to have God’s breath or Spirit in you. Without his help it’s too hard, like trying to run without breathing.

For everyone

Anyone can ask God to help them to do what’s right.

Response

  1. Turn on the fan and allow the breeze to blow over the children. Ask them to think about the wind. Even though we can’t see it, we can feel it. Talk about how, in some ways, God being with us is like that.
  2. Think about breath that enables us to live and walk and run. Think about God being like the wind or like breath.
  3. Allow a few moments of silence, and tell the children that they may want to use the time to ask God to help them to live a life that pleases him.

 

Jesus always listens – Nicodemus

Aim:

To help the children understand that Jesus listens when they talk to him. He is happy to hear their prayers.

Bible base:

John 3:1-21. Jesus and Nicodemus.

You will need:

  • A collection of objects that make some kind of a noise, eg a cup and saucer, an alarm clock, an egg timer (wind up kind), a hand bell, a radio, etc (try to include the radio or something else with words – a cassette player, a talking toy!)
  • A deep box for your objects, with a hole made in one side, large enough for your hands to go through.

Presentation

Introduction

1. Start the assembly with a listening game.

  • Ask the children to listen very carefully to the things in your box, ensuring that they cannot see over the top into the box.
  • Put your hands into the back of the box through the hole. Make a noise with each object in turn.
  • As the children guess the objects correctly take them out of the box. Leave your ‘speaking’ object until last. See if the children can actually make out some of the words being said.

2. Talk to the children about whether they are good or bad listeners. There are times when it is important to listen. Talk about what if feels like when people don’t listen to you properly at all.

Story

THE SECRET VISITOR:

We read in the Bible about a time when a man came to Jesus wanting Jesus to listen to his questions and to answer them.

Tell the story of Nicodemus coming to Jesus by night (given below). Emphasise how much Nicodemus wanted to talk to Jesus and how willing Jesus was to listen.

Nicodemus was a teacher. He had heard a lot about Jesus, and wanted to talk to him. But he didn’t want people to see him – so he came after dark.

‘We know you’ve been sent by God,’ Nicodemus began. ‘No one could do the wonderful things you do without God’s help.’

Jesus knew the questions in Nicodemus’ mind.

‘You are a great teacher,’ Jesus said. ‘But you still have lessons to learn. You want to please God. But being good isn’t enough. You must be born all over again to enjoy God’s kingdom.’

‘What do you mean?’ Nicodemus asked.

‘You need a fresh start, a whole new life,’ Jesus answered, ‘the life I have come to bring. You see, God loves the world so much that he has sent his Son. Everyone who puts his trust in me can have this new kind of life.’

Outside it was dark. Inside the house, the lamp shone.

‘God’s light is shining in the world,’ Jesus said.

‘But people would rather live in the dark because the light shows up the wrong they do.’

(Story from ‘The Lion Children’s Bible’, retold by Pat Alexander. Used with permission.)

Application

  1. Ask the children how Nicodemus must have felt as Jesus sat and listened to him.
  2. Remind them that Jesus still listens when we talk to him in our prayers. He is so wonderful, he knows what each person has said even if they say it at the same time. He listens wherever we are and always answers us.

Song suggestion

Prayer is like a telephone, 448, Junior Praise