Week 1 objective: To understand that the verse comes from the Gospel of John, which is very different from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke.
This verse comes from the Gospel of John. ‘John’ is one of four Gospels, the books that tell the story of Jesus’ life. People who have studied the Gospels noticed that the Gospel of John is very different from the other three.
Show the ‘Looking at the Gospels’ sheets and point out the differences between ‘John’ and the other three Gospels. Why is John’s Gospel so different? Some of the answers given by people who study the Bible include: 1. John did not speak to the same people as Matthew, Mark and Luke, therefore his information is different. 2. John wanted to tell people who Jesus was, not just what he did.
Week 2 objective: To introduce the idea that we can recognise Jesus' disciples by their love for one another.
This verse tells us that if people watched Jesus’ disciples carefully they would see that they were loving towards each other and when people saw that, they would know that they were Jesus’ disciples.
Underline the word disciples. Explain that this verse isn't just about the first 12 disciples, it's about all Christians everywhere. Christians today are Jesus' disciples because like the first disciples they want to live the way Jesus lived and do the things he taught. They want to think, feel and live like him.
But why did Jesus say that people would see his disciples being loving towards each other? Explain that a disciple is someone who, with the powerful help of the Holy Spirit, is learning and growing to be more like Jesus. Because Jesus is loving, with the powerful help of the Holy Spirit, his disciples (Christians) will learn and grow to be loving too.
Week 3 objective: To talk about what the word ‘agape’ means and how Christians can learn and grow to love each other in this way.
Explain that when John first wrote this verse he would have written it in ancient Greek and instead of the word ‘love’ he would have written ‘agape’. Underline the word ‘love’. Explain that ‘love’ is the right English translation for ‘agape’ but there is an even better way of describing what ‘agape’ means: ‘agape’ means ‘loving somebody in such a way that you put them first and expect nothing in return’.
If we were to take John’s verse and read it the way Jesus said it we would read… ‘everyone will know that you are my disciples because you put each other first and expect nothing in return’.
But why will Jesus' disciples love each other this way? Remind the children that last week we discovered that a disciple is someone who, with the powerful help of the Holy Spirit, is learning and growing to be more like Jesus. Jesus loves people with agape love - putting them first and expecting nothing in return. Because Jesus loves people this way, with the powerful help of the Holy Spirit his disciples will learn and grow to love people this way too.
Week 4 objective: To talk about the importance of Christians loving one another.
Why is it great when Christians love each other?
Remind the children that our game showed that when people get on well they work well together as a team and do things that they couldn’t do on their own. One of the reasons it is great for Christians to love each other is that together they can do great things for God. You might like to talk about organisations that you know where Christians work together to help people, such as organising food or clothes banks. Explain that some Christians also work together to tell people the Good News about Jesus. Sometimes Christians organise events to either help people, or to tell people more about God.
Ask the children to think for a moment what it would be like if Christians who worked together didn’t get along with one another. Now ask them to think what it would be like if Christians who worked together loved each other with ‘agape’ love, putting each other first, expecting nothing in return.
Week 5 objective: To talk about a church being the people not the building.
Draw a group of stick people next to the verse and remind the children that the church is not the building; it is the group of Christians who gather together. Circle the group of stick people and explain that although many church buildings are very beautiful and useful, wherever the Christians meet together they are the church.
For older children you might want to explain that Christians believe there is one big Church called the Universal Church. The big Church is made up of all Christians everywhere – it stretches around the world. It is in fact made up of all Christians that are alive now and have ever lived. Of course it is not possible for all Christians in the Universal Church to meet together. However, lots of Christians meet together in smaller groups close to where they live. These groups of Christians are called local churches. All around the world there are thousands and thousands of local churches. Christians often get together in their local churches on a Sunday because this is the day on which Christians have gathered together for hundreds of years. But Christians get together on other days too.
Ask the children to list some of the things Christians do when they gather together. Discuss the children's answers and explain that Christians gather together to help one another live God’s way - to love God and others.