Jesus In the Temple

Primary Pals for Teachers
Unit 05 - Jesus' Preparation for Ministry

TEXT: Luke 2:40-52


The students will be able to use the account of Jesus' talking with the Temple elders as an example of how He was working for His heavenly Father as He grew physically and intellectually.


Introduction: Show a picture of Jesus as a baby, and one of Him as an adult. Ask your students what took place between these two pictures. Answer: Jesus grew up!

Progression of Events:

  1. Jesus grew strong in spirit, filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon Him. Discuss the meaning of each.
  2. When twelve years of age, He went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover.
  3. When His parents were returning they missed Jesus.
  4. They found Him in the Temple talking with the elders.

Climax: He told them He was doing His Father's business.

Conclusion: Just as Jesus was concerned about working for His heavenly Father, we, too, can work for Him even though we are young.

Response: Your students will be able to describe the event in the Temple. They will be able to relate several ways those of their age group can work for God.


After their short stay in Egypt, Jesus' family moved to the obscure town of Nazareth. Jesus lived there until He was thirty years old and started His public ministry. Of the first thirty years of His life the Scriptures tell us very little. The only specific incident recorded is that of Luke 2:40-52.

At the age of twelve Jesus accompanied His parents to Jerusalem for the celebration of the Passover. The fact that Mary and Joseph were amazed that He had stayed behind and was then speaking with the greatest religious leaders of Israel (Luke 2:48) would indicate that this was the first time that Jesus had done anything like this. Jesus obviously recognized that God's claim on Him was greater than even Mary's or Joseph's (Luke 2:40). However, He willingly returned to Nazareth with His parents and was subject unto them (Luke 2:51), even though His exceptional abilities would seemingly develop more fully in the great religious capital under the guidance of these doctors and lawyers. God, however, had a different schooling in mind for His Son.

The Child, Jesus, was unique. The Scriptures teach that ''foolishness is bound in the heart of a child" (Proverbs 22:15), but of Christ it states He was ''filled with wisdom" (Luke 2:40). The Scriptures teach that men were "shapen in iniquity" (Psalm 51:5), but Christ was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born without sin. The Scriptures also teach that we are "by nature the children of wrath" (Ephesians 2:3) but of Christ they state the "grace of God was upon him" (Luke 2:40).


  • Bring to class a small suitcase and some things a small boy would take on a trip. Have the class help you pack. Talk about how excited Jesus was about going, and when He got there He forgot everything, including His parents, to do His Father's work.
  • Bring popsicle sticks or round sticks, and long strips of paper to make scrolls. Attach each end of paper to a round stick using staples, glue or tape. Roll up. Introduce activity by showing children your Bible. Tell them that when Jesus was in the Temple, He read from the Bible, only it didn't look at all like our Bible here. Show them the scroll. Have the memory verse printed inside. Unroll it. As a variation of this idea, give children paper to make their own scrolls. Let them experiment how to roll each side toward the middle. Help them write their memory verse inside the scroll, or if you have a large class, write it on each scroll before class. Beneath the memory verse have children draw a picture of Jesus as a boy.
  • Bring to class two colors of construction paper, paper fasteners, and scissors. Cut out a circle from one color of construction paper. Cut out another circle from a coordinating color, cutting out 1/3 of circle. Draw lines to divide circle into thirds (or fourths if you want more pictures).
    Fasten cut circle on top of full circle. Have child draw in each 1/3 segment of full circle a picture of Jesus as a tot, a boy, and a man. While the child turns the top semicircle, have him tell you what happened when Jesus was at each age.
    Or, let the child draw a simple illustration of each lesson; i.e., Jesus and the elders, Jesus and Satan, etc., one in each segment. (This circle would be divided into fourths.) At the end of unit, have child tell what happened in each lesson.
  • As an alternative to drawing, have stickers of Jesus growing up and have child place them in correct segments.
  • Relate the question and answer period at the Temple to their own classroom situation. Compare it to an oral quiz. Show some school books—they help us learn. Jesus learned the things of God so He could talk with the Temple elders.
  • Bring a series of photos of a young person growing into adulthood. Beginning with the youngest picture, tell ways this person grew spiritually to coincide with the pictures. For example: Jon was this size when he started Sunday school; he was this size when he first sang a solo in Sunday school; he started taking piano lessons at this age, etc. Compare our experience in spiritual growth and working for the Lord with Jesus' growth and work for His heavenly Father.
  • Make a chart showing what Jesus did, and compare it to what we do. For example: Jesus went to the Temple and we go to church. Jesus talked to the elders and we talk to our ministry and Sunday school teachers. Jesus wanted to work for His heavenly Father and we want to work for God.
  • Give each child a comic-strip style of drawings representing the lesson. Have them fill in the speech balloons (see Patterns).


  1. Why were the men in the Temple astonished?
  2. What did Jesus tell Mary and Joseph He was doing in the Temple?
  3. Describe what you suppose to be Jesus' actions and behavior as He grew up that would indicate He was living to please God.
  4. What characteristics will be found in a child today who is trying to please Jesus?
  5. Why was it that the parents of Jesus could travel an entire day without missing Him?
  6. Do you think it is possible today that people get separated from Jesus and not even miss Him? Explain.
  7. Explain how one can find Jesus today if they are separated from Him. The words of Jesus still surprise and amaze people; for instance, Jesus says that we should live without sin. Some people will ask, "How can that be?" Can you name some other things that He asks of us or says that we should do that would surely surprise or amaze those who do not know Jesus?


  • Compare Jesus' learning in the Temple with the children's learning in Sunday school. Bring pictures of children in church or Sunday school class.
  • Bring books and pictures on obedience. Mention how Jesus was obedient to His earthly parents as well as to His heavenly Father.
  • Make a big heart with a pocket in back. Talk about how Jesus put good things in His heart as He grew. For example: He learned to obey, learned about doing what God wanted Him to do, loved His parents, learned to share and be kind. As you talk about each, put slips of paper with the words written on them (or pictures), into the heart.
  • Talk about how the children can work for their heavenly Father. Bring illustrations of being kind, obeying, sharing, saying, "I love you," and "Thank you."
  • Do a finger puppet activity, or use small dolls, to present situations of children's acting in a way that would not make Jesus happy, and then in a way that would make Him happy. Ask the little ones to decide which is which.


Demonstrate how to do some simple task; e.g., crack a hard-boiled egg, balance a pole, etc. Have a couple of children volunteer to try what you did. Emphasize how we learn by example and experience. Jesus is our example to show us how to get to Heaven, how to make God happy, and how to make others happy.

Present a skit in which a small child appears dressed in a graduation cap and gown obviously too big for him. Seat him in a circle with two or three Sunday school teachers. Have him quiz them on facts of the Bible and make some comments. Elders should appear to be astonished at his wisdom. Your comments should tie in the fact that the size of the cap and gown didn't matter—though Jesus was only a boy, He knew the answers.


  • "Jesus Gets Lost" — Palm Tree Bible Series book, Concordia
  • "Jesus Loves Us" — Coloring book, 8 each of 6 pictures, Warner Press