Grades 3-6 Sunday School Lesson
Accepting the Unexpected
Author’s Notes: Last week we began a series of lessons leading up to Easter. This week, we’re going to look at what sort of Messiah the Jews were expecting, what they should have been expecting, and what He really was – a spiritual Savior. One day He will return to earth as the King they were looking for. But the first time He came, many had trouble accepting what they weren’t expecting.
I want you to imagine with me a little boy, about 4 or 5 years old. And this little boy wants a brother more than anything else in the world. One day, his mommy told him that very soon he would have just what he’d been dreaming of… he was going to have a new brother.
So the little boy became very excited about his new brother. He started imagining all of the wonderful places they would go together, and the things they might do. A brother could go to the park with him and play on the swings. They could play baseball together. And maybe they would even share a bedroom with bunk beds! That would be so much fun. They would certainly be the best of friends.
But one day, only a short time later, mommy came into the house carrying something very small, wrapped tightly in a blanket. She called the little boy over to her side, pulled back the blanket, and announced that this was his new brother.
He couldn’t believe his ears! This was not a brother. It was a wrinkly, red-faced, crying baby; not someone who could run outside to play with him. So utterly disappointed, the little boy turned and walked away.
When his mommy saw his reaction, she suddenly realized what was wrong. She had not explained that his brother would come as a baby, and need a little time to grow before he would be ready to play. She encouraged the new big brother to take another look at his new baby brother. And when he did, he noticed that he wasn’t quite so silly looking as he was before. Maybe he was even kind of cute. He guessed he could learn to love this new brother, even though he wasn’t at all what he was expecting.
Do you remember our lesson from last week? When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, the Jews thought sure he was the King that had been prophesied in the Old Testament book of Zechariah. But only a week later, they had become disappointed that he wasn’t the king they expected. So, unlike the little boy in our story, they turned their backs on Jesus, and demanded that He be crucified.
Jesus was not the Messiah that many of the Jews expected. But there had been many hints throughout Biblical history to prepare them for what they should have expected. So today, we’re going to look at those passages, to see just what was prophesied concerning the Messiah both in the Old Testament, and in Jesus’ time on earth.
One of those prophecies is our memory verse for today. Let’s learn it together before we look into today’s lesson.
Memory verse: (Have the children repeat this verse with you several times, until they are able to say it themselves. And encourage them to repeat it to others several times during the week, so that it’ll have a place in their hearts.)
“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” John 1:29
Opening prayer: Lord, thank You for each student who’s here, today. And thank You for Your Word, The Bible, where we can learn new truths about You, and the great promises You’ve given us. Help each one of us here, today, to be attentive to what You would have us learn. Give us open ears and hearts, ready to listen to Your words. Amen.
This Week’s Lesson: Accepting the Unexpected
From the time of Adam and Eve, way back in the beginning of Biblical history, God’s people knew that He was going to send a Messiah to save them.
(Old Testament prophecies – what the Jews were expecting)
Let’s start back in the book of Genesis; right after Satan, as the Serpent, tempted Adam and Eve to sin, in the Garden of Eden. Listen to what God said to Satan:
“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Genesis 3:15
God wanted to make it clear to Satan that Someone would come through the human race who would be his enemy. He predicted that Satan would bruise this Savior’s heel; in other words, would wound Him. But that this prophesied One would bruise Satan’s head. What happens if you step on a serpent’s head? The snake is dead! So God was telling Satan, along with Adam and Eve that He would send Someone who would be able to destroy Satan.
Then, in the book of Deuteronomy, God told Moses that He would one day send a Prophet to Israel. This was to be a very special prophet.
(Deuteronomy 18:15, 18-19)
15 The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;
18 I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.
19 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.
God promised His people, in this passage, that He would send a special Prophet (their Messiah) to them. And where did He say this Prophet would come from? He would come from out of their own people, the Jews. We have the added blessing of knowing for certain that this Prophet was Jesus. After Jesus fed more than five thousand people with only five loaves of bread and two fish, John records that those who had seen the miracle concluded that Jesus must be the Prophet that Moses prophesied.
“Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.” John 6:14
So the Jews were expecting a Messiah from their own Jewish race. And Jesus was born of a Jewess, Mary. And to be even more specific, the prophet Micah prophesied that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem. And that’s exactly where God led Mary and Joseph for Jesus’ birth.
Not only did the Jews of Jesus’ time know that a Messiah had been promised. And that He would come from a Jewish family, specifically from Bethlehem. But we also learned last week that the Jews were expecting a King, like Zechariah prophesied, riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. What did they expect that Messiah to do? They thought He would save them from the Roman rulers, that He would step forward and rule in Israel as their King.
One day, Jesus will return to the earth to rule over it, just as the Jews expected. But that day is still in the future. He first needed to come as our Redeemer, to save us from our sins.
Remember our story of the little boy expecting a big brother who would be able to play with him? That’s kind of the way it was with the Jews, and Jesus. He is the Messiah that God promised in the Old Testament. But when He arrived as a baby in the manger, then on the donkey heading for Jerusalem, He was not what they were expecting. They were expecting a King, while Jesus arrived as a Redeemer. He came to save them from their sins, not from the Romans.
And just as the little boy’s baby brother had some growing to do before he would be ready to run and play; Jesus, too, had some things to accomplish before He would be ready to step into His role as King of Kings.
One of those things He needed to do first was to be despised and rejected by man. Otherwise the Jews never would have called for Him to be crucified. And Jesus’ death was the means by which Jesus paid the penalty for our sins. You see, if Jesus hadn’t died, our sins could not be forgiven. And if the Jews hadn’t rejected Him, He wouldn’t have been put on that cross. It was all part of God’s plan.
But even though it fell into God’s plan, that doesn’t mean it was OK for the Jews to reject Him. They had prophecies that should have alerted them to the suffering their Savior would have to endure. The prophet Isaiah wrote these words of the Messiah who was to come… and suffer:
3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
God used Isaiah to prepare Jewish hearts for the fact that their Messiah would have to endure certain suffering.
(New Testament prophecies)
And Old Testament prophets were not the only ones to who tried to prepare the Jews for a Messiah who would not rule, but suffer and die. There were those in the life and ministry of Jesus, including Jesus Himself, who tried to prepare the Jews, and especially those close to Him, for the truth of Who Jesus was, and what He had come to do.
Only a few days after Jesus was born, in Bethlehem, His parents took Him to the Temple. And while there, a man named Simeon held the baby Jesus in his arms; and said to His mother Mary, “Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also…” (Luke 2:35) preparing Mary for the fact that a sword would some day pierce through the Child he was holding.
Then, when Jesus had grown and was ready to begin His public ministry, John the Baptist
Introduced Him this way:
29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me.
What did John call Jesus? He called Him “the Lamb of God.” We no longer have to offer animal sacrifices for our sins. But the Jews in Jesus’ time would have quickly recognized the reference. What had to happen to a lamb for it to cover someone’s sin? It had to die. So what was John saying Jesus had come to do? He had come to take away their sins by dying for them. That was not at all what they were expecting of their Messiah.
Then Jesus Himself hinted at His own coming death on several occasions. Early in His ministry, a group of Jews demanded a sign from Him to prove that He was the Messiah. And this was His answer:
19 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.
20 Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?
21 But he spake of the temple of his body.
22 When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.
Verse 21 tells us that Jesus was speaking of His own death and resurrection. But even His own disciples didn’t recognize that Jesus was saying He was going to die.
If they had been paying close attention to their Bible prophecy, and to the words spoken of Jesus throughout His ministry, the Jews would not have been caught so much off guard by a Messiah who came to suffer and die for them. But they had chosen, instead, to focus on the prophecies of a great and mighty King, coming to bring His kingdom to earth; disregarding the hints that He had something else to accomplish first.
And how did those false expectations affect how the Jews responded to Jesus? Were they able to see Jesus for who He was, a Savior of their sins? Were they able to accept this unexpected Messiah? Sadly, the answer for most of them was no. Once they realized that Jesus was not going to overthrow the government, and set up an earthly kingdom, many of those who had followed Him earlier turned their backs on Him, and walked away.
So my question for you, today, is this: have you come to know the Jesus of the Bible? The One that Old Testament prophets said would suffer and die? And have you accepted Him as your Lord and King? To do so, we have to acknowledge that we have sinned, and need a savior. And that He had to die on the cross to pay the debt for our sin. But we also get to claim Him as our risen Lord, who came back from the dead to conquer Satan, just as He was sent to do from the very beginning.
If you’re just seeing Jesus today for who He really is, and it’s not what you were expecting… what will you do? Will you reject Him because He’s not what you expected? Or will you choose to believe God’s Word, and accept Jesus as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world?”
And then, for those who have already accepted Jesus as your Savior, I have this question for you: does God ever allow things to happen, or send answers to your prayers that you did not expect? Maybe someone in your family was very sick, and you prayed for them to get better, truly expecting that God was going to heal them. But then they died… When God sends an unexpected answer like that, are you able to accept it as His perfect and loving will? Or will you do as the Jews did, and turn your back on God when His answer isn’t what you were looking for?
We must always remember that God is the only One who always knows and does what is best, in every situation. If He does something, or allows something to happen, it is for the best. And as His children, we can choose to accept what God does or provides no matter how unexpected it might be.
Let’s look for the unexpected this week, and thank God for it!
Closing Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for the way You love us, and provide for us, even when it sometimes comes in unexpected ways. Help us this week, Lord, to accept whatever you send our way with gratefulness in knowing that it has come from You. For we pray in Jesus’ name, amen.
Activity: (Review Questions)
Fill in the Blanks
True or False
1. Old Testament prophecy said that the Messiah would come as an angel. (false – He would come into the world through the Jewish race)
2. When Jesus fed the 5000, some of the Jews recognized Jesus as the Prophet foretold in the Old Testament. (true)
3. The Jews knew that a lamb had to die to cover their sins. (true)
4. Most of the Jews accepted Jesus as their promised Messiah. (false – they rejected Him)
5. Jesus’ rejection by the Jews was actually part of God’s plan. (true)