Grades 3-6 for Sunday School:
The Life of Jesus Christ: Lesson 3
Jesus: The Miracle Worker
Author’s Notes: This week we’ll be continuing our series on the Life of Christ by looking at some of His miracles. There are so many recorded in God’s Word. Each teaches us something special about Jesus. We’re going to limit our lesson to only two of them; the first and last recorded in the Gospel of John. And we’re going to learn from each of them who Jesus really was (God in the flesh), and what He wanted us to learn about Himself.
Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve looked at some of the first recorded events in the earthly life of Jesus Christ. Can anyone who has been here for those lessons remind us what happened to Jesus when He was twelve? (allow a student to briefly review the lesson of Jesus at the Temple) Then last week, we looked at the next account, when Jesus was about thirty years old. What did we learn last week that Jesus did at the beginning of His public ministry? (allow a student to briefly review the lesson of Jesus’ baptism)
Now, I have a question for you: why did Jesus come to live on Earth, anyway? (allow the students a few moments to consider the question. If you have someplace to write their responses down for them to see, please do so. If they have not already done so, add the following answers to their list.)
The first chapter in the gospel of John refers to Jesus as “the Word.” It sounds a little strange to say that a person is a “word.” But what exactly is a word? (allow the students to respond) Vine’s Dictionary (*) says a word is “the expression of thought…as embodying a conception or idea.” That sounds a little complicated! Would anyone like to try to explain, then, how Jesus is “the Word.” (allow the students time to consider this question, and respond) Before Jesus came to earth, people believed in God, and knew what had been written about Him in the Old Testament. But there was no way for them to actually see God, except for on a few very rare occasions in the Old Testament. Jesus was and is, like the dictionary said - the embodying of God; in other words, Jesus was God in a human body that could be seen and touched…a visible expression of God, Himself!
And Jesus knew that the time He would spend in His human body, here on earth, would be fairly short. In fact, His public ministry would last only about three years. That meant He had only three years to show and teach the people all that He could about His home in Heaven, His Father in Heaven, and about Himself.
Different people learn best in different ways. Some people learn well by listening to a teacher. Others learn better if a lesson includes some kind of word-pictures. For some, it’s easiest to learn by watching a demonstration of what’s being taught. And still others need to see something exciting with their own eyes to catch their attention. Have you ever thought about how you learn best? Think about the things you have learned from others, perhaps your parents or teachers. Do you most remember the things they have said to you? Or do you remember things you’ve seen them do?
While He was on earth, Jesus used all of these ways of teaching people about Himself, His Heavenly Father, and even about Heaven. He taught the people using sermons in the Temple and out on the hillsides. He sometimes taught using word-pictures in stories called parables. There were other times that Jesus taught people by His own example. But probably the most exciting way He taught them was through His miracles.
Today, we’re going to look at two of Jesus’ miracles, recorded in the Gospel of John. And we’ll see that He used each one to teach us about Himself; including that fact that He was and is exactly who He claimed to be - God. And that He loves people, very much.
Before we look at those miracles, let’s take a moment to learn this week’s memory verse. It is John’s reason for writing the things he did, including the miracles we’ll be studying today.
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.)
“But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”
Opening prayer: Lord, thank You for each student who’s here, today. And thank You for the exciting stories we read in Your Word that teach us more about who You are, and why Jesus came to this earth. Give us ears to hear and hearts ready to follow You, today. Amen.
This Week’s Lesson: The Life of Jesus Christ: Jesus the Miracle Worker (John 2:1-11, and John 11:1-45)
What is a miracle? (allow the students to answer) Dictionary.com (**) defines a miracle as “an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause.” In other words, a miracle is something no ordinary person could do on their own.
Jesus was no ordinary person! He performed many wonderful miracles during His public ministry here on earth. Does anyone know of any of Jesus’ miracles? (allow the students to share the details of a few of Jesus’ miracles.)
For our lesson today, we’re going to look at just two of Jesus’ miracles. Both are found only in the Gospel of John, and are special because they are the first and last recorded miracles that Jesus did before He died. Let’s take a look at them, and see what we can learn about Jesus. This lesson will give you the opportunity to learn about Him in two of the ways we talked about. You can learn about Jesus by listening to the account from John. And you can also use your imagination to try to see what was happening, as Jesus performed these exciting miracles.
Let’s turn to the Gospel of John, chapter 2. But we’re going to start at a funny place…the end of the story. Because there, John tells us why he included this miracle in his gospel. John 2:11 says, “This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.” John wants us to know that this was the very first miracle Jesus did, and that it had a big effect on his disciples. What does the verse say his disciples did after seeing the miracle? Yes, they believed on Him. So let’s go back, now, and see just what it was that Jesus did, that convinced His disciples that He really was the Messiah they had been looking for, the One God had promised to send.
1And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there:
2And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.
3And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.
What special event was taking place in Cana? A wedding. And who had been invited to this wedding? Jesus’ mother Mary, Jesus, and His disciples. And according to verse 3, what was the problem at the wedding? They had run out of wine. How do you think you would feel if you were in charge of a big party, and you suddenly realized you hadn’t planned for enough drinks for everyone? And in this culture, a wedding might last for days, even sometimes weeks! What an absolute embarrassment and disgrace this would have been for the host of the wedding to run out of wine before the celebration was over.
But when Mary saw that there was a problem, who did she go to? She went to Jesus. Remember, He had not yet done any public miracles. But what did she know that perhaps very few others knew? She knew that Jesus was the Son of God, and that He had the power to solve this problem.
The next verse is Jesus’ response to her, and has puzzled many people.
4Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.
What do you suppose Jesus might have meant by that? Another translation (the NIV) says it this way, "Dear woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied, "My time has not yet come." Perhaps Jesus was saying that this matter was not really His concern. But regardless of what He meant, it didn’t change His mother’s persistence.
5His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.
Mary knew that Jesus was God’s Son, and she seemed certain that He could do something to help in this embarrassing situation. But would Jesus take this opportunity to show the world who He really was? Let’s find out.
6And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.
7Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.
8And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it.
What did Jesus tell the servants at the wedding to do? He told them to fill the waterpots with water. That doesn’t sound terribly unusual. And we should note that these would not have been little water pots. One firkin was about 9 gallons or 34 liters (**). So if we do a little math, each pot would have held up to 24 gallons, or 102 liters of water. And there were six waterpots. That’s a lot of water! But notice that there isn’t any sign that the servants hesitated to do as Jesus said. Did they also believe He could do something miraculous with the water? Or were they simply desperate enough about the situation to try anything?
We don’t know why they obeyed. And we don’t know when the miracle took place. But verse 8 shows quite a bit of faith on the part of the servants. It sounds as if they took the water to the governor, not knowing what would happen. So let’s find out what did happen, as the water was presented at the wedding feast.
9When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,
10And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.
Did you notice the governor’s comment, that they had saved the best wine for last? Not only had Jesus changed the water in the waterpots to wine, He had made it some of the best wine this man had ever tasted. Who better than the Creator of water could change it into a completely different thing? And make His new creation the best possible! John 1:3 reminds us that “All things were made by [the Word, Jesus]; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:3)
Jesus, in performing this miracle, was showing those around Him that He truly was God in the flesh, the Creator. And He was also teaching them something else…that God is love. Jesus could have just let the wedding go on without anything to drink. But He had compassion on those who would have been disgraced. He used His power to demonstrate His love.
And we’ve already mentioned the impact this miracle had on His disciples. Verse 11 tells us that “He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.” (John 2:11) This was not only the first miracle Jesus did for others, it was also the first one His disciples had seen. What a great start for these disciples…to see that this Man they had chosen to follow really was who He claimed to be, the Son of God!
For the next three years, Jesus would perform many, many more miracles, further convincing His disciples that He was God in the flesh. But there were others who believed on Him, because of His miracles, as well. In fact, let’s once again jump to the last verse of our next passage, to see what the result of this miracle was. Then we’ll go back to see just what Jesus did as His final miracle recorded in the Gospels.
John 11:45 tells us this, “Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him.” What happened as a result of the next miracle? Many Jews put their faith in Jesus. At this point in His ministry, the time was drawing very close when Jesus would die on the cross. So Jesus wanted to give the Jewish people one more opportunity to see His miraculous power…to do things only God could do.
Let’s go back to the beginning of John 11 to see what Jesus did to convince many of the Jews to put their faith in Him.
1Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.
2(It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)
3Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.
Let’s take a moment here to notice that once again there is a problem. What has happened? A man named Lazarus, a close friend of Jesus, was sick. And just like Jesus’ mother, the ones who needed help knew who to turn to. Who did they send a message to for help? Jesus!
4When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.
5Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.
This, too, is something we saw in the first miracle. Jesus had compassion for the people He had come to minister to. And in this case, we are told that Jesus dearly loved this family. But let’s read on to see what Jesus does.
6When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.
7Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again.
If Jesus loved Lazarus so much, why didn’t He go to heal him right away? (allow the students to respond) There was a clue back in verse 4. Jesus said that Lazarus’ sickness would be “for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.” And in the next few verses, we’ll find another reason for Jesus’ delay.
11… and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.
12Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.
13Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.
14Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.
This is the first time we, and the disciples, realize that in the time Jesus has delayed going to Bethany, His friend Lazarus has died. It appears that Jesus waited too long to go to His friend. But let’s read on, because in the very next verse we’re going to find the other reason that Jesus delayed, allowing His friend to die. This miracle was going to accomplish the same thing as His first miracle. Jesus said,
15And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye [the disciples] may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him…
17Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already.
Jesus knew that with His own death coming soon, His disciples would need to know beyond any doubt that He truly was and is the Son of God. So He allowed His own friend to die so that one of His greatest miracles could be performed, and leave a lasting impression on those who might soon have reason to question all they had heard and seen. They would need to have this miracle so fresh in their memories, that they would remember that Jesus truly did have power, even over death.
Here is what happened when Jesus and His disciples arrived in Bethany:
20Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.
21Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died...
Martha believed that Jesus had the power to heal her sick brother. But what about His power over death, itself?
25Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
26And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
Jesus was about to use this tragedy as an opportunity to teach Lazarus’ sisters and friends that He was not only the Creator, and healer of the lame and the blind; but that He also had power over life and death. Martha had a great deal of faith in Jesus. But did she believe that He could bring her brother back to life? Let’s find out.
27She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.
28And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee.
29As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him…
32Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
33When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.
34And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.
36Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!
Again, Jesus used this as an opportunity to let His great love and compassion show. Then the next verse asks the question that must have been in everyone’s mind:
37And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?
38Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.
39Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.
Remember that Martha said she believed that Jesus is the Christ? Does this response sound like she believes that Jesus can now help her brother? It’s time, now, to see what a wonderful miracle Jesus had planned to show everyone that He was God, with power even over death.
40Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?
41Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.
42And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.
43And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.
44And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.
45Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.
What just happened? Yes, Jesus had once again done something that only God could do. This time He had overcome death, to bring His friend Lazarus back to his family. What a powerful God, here on earth, in the flesh! And what a loving God, that He would, Himself, suffer the temporary loss of a friend to bring ultimate glory to His Heavenly Father.
That was what His miracles were all about. Jesus demonstrated time and time again that He possessed power that only God could have. And He used that power to also show His deep love and compassion for many, many people.
And God is still doing miracles today. He tells us that when we have a need we can come to Him, in prayer. Then as our loving God and Heavenly Father, He takes great pleasure in bringing miraculous answers into our lives, to help strengthen our faith in Him while reminding us how much He loves us.
Is there any need in your life that you have thought may be beyond help? Take the accounts of these miracles with you this week, and remember that we can pray to this same God. He loves to show us His power and glory by meeting our needs. And you can take this verse with you, too: “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19) God’s love hasn’t changed, and His miracle-working days have not ended. He proved, in His Word, that He is worthy of our trust.
Have you put your trust in Jesus? Do you see, through our lesson today, that He is so worthy of that trust? He came to this earth to prove to us that He loves us, and that He has the power over sin and death. If you have not placed your trust in Him, why don’t you consider all that you’ve heard, and give your heart to Jesus!
Closing Prayer: Heavenly Father, we know that we have only scratched the surface of all You’ve taught us in Your Word. But we’ve seen today, through these two great miracles, that Jesus truly is worthy of our faith and trust. We see that He was and is who He claimed to be, Your Son. Speak to the hearts of those who have not yet placed their trust in Jesus as their Savior. And for those who have, remind us that we can still turn to You for the miracles we need in our lives, even today. Amen.
Fill in the Blanks
True or False
1. Jesus had never met Mary, Martha, or Lazarus before. (false – they were His friends)
2. Jesus delayed going to see Lazarus because He knew it would bring glory to God. (true)
3. Jesus knew that Lazarus had died before He arrived in Bethany. (true)
4. Mary and Martha both believed that if Jesus had been there, Lazarus would not have died. (true)
5. Jesus brought Lazarus back to life the day after he died. (false – he was dead 4 days)
6. Many of the Jews believed on Jesus after seeing Him raise Lazarus from the dead. (true)
Jesus’ life on earth was proof of all that He had said.
He is God, with power to heal and raise men from the dead.
Many hearts were opened by the miracles received.
Won’t you open your heart, too, and in the Son believe?
*Vine, W. E., F. F. Bruce, and W. E. Vine. Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words. Old Tappan, N.J.: F.H. Revell, 1981. Print.
Lisa DeVinney, February, 2021