John the Baptist and Jesus’ Baptism ~ Matthew 3 and Luke 3 Object Lesson

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Jesus Being Baptized


  • To list characteristics of John the Baptist
  • To state the message and events of John’s preaching and Jesus’ baptism
  • To recognize true repentance

Materials: jar of honey (with honey comb would be perfect!); piece of fruit

Geography: Jordan River

Background: About thirty years have gone by since Jesus was born in Bethlehem. So much happened to Jesus and his family when He was born. Then there was almost silence until Jesus appeared at the Jordan River to meet His cousin.


Main Events of Matthew 3 and Luke 3:

Do you remember the facts surrounding the birth of John? After Elizabeth named, and Zacharias confirmed that the baby’s name would be John, Zacharias could speak once more. Can you image the story he told? And so both boys, John and Jesus, grew up.

John appeared first. Picture what this man must have looked like. He lived out in the desert, wore camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and honey. {Show the jar of honey.} Perhaps the honey takes the “crunch” out of the locusts? I don’t know, but John lived a very simple life and was filled with the Holy Spirit. He started preaching in the wilderness. He had a simple message, but it was life changing: Repent! For the kingdom of heaven is at hand!

What  did he mean by the “kingdom of heaven”? “When John the Baptist announced that the Kingdom of God was at hand, he meant that God’s rule was just about to break into the world through the Messiah.” (Dr. David Naugle) So as John preached, he continued to tell the people that God was about to do something. It had been over 400 years and NOW God was moving.

honey and fruitPeople were convicted and they repent of their deeds. Different groups went to John and asked what they needed to do to fix their wrong choices. He gave them specific things to do, such as: share with those who have none, tax collectors should only tax what they ought to, soldiers should not force people to pay them money and falsely accuse people.

And people came in large numbers to be baptized by John. But he knew that some people’s hearts were not changed, especially those of the Pharisees and Saddusees who came to be baptized. In fact, John called them a “Brood of Vipers!”

The people wondered if John was the Messiah. But he told them that One would be coming Who would baptize with the fire of the Holy Spirit, and not  with water.

One day Jesus showed up at the Jordan River to be baptized. John said, “It is I who should be baptized by You!” But Jesus told him that He needed John to baptize Him to “fulfill all righteousness.” After Jesus was baptized, the heavens opened up. The Holy Spirit took on the form of a dove and flew down to Jesus. God the Father spoke from heaven saying, “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.” {Here is an example of the Trinity!}

Life Application of John the Baptist and Jesus’ Baptism:

{Hold up the piece of fruit.} Remember the people who were coming down to be baptized and repent, but John knew that they didn’t mean it? One of the things John preached about was fruit. He talked about trees being cut down if they did not produce the fruit of repentance.

Can you tell when someone is sorry for something bad he did to you? God can tell if you are really sorry when you repent, and tell Him you are sorry for bad behavior. In fact, He knows your heart. You don’t even have to tell Him. John told those people that the ax was waiting at the base of the tree. And that all trees that did not bear fruit would be cut down and thrown into the fire.

If a tree is unhealthy, will it produce good fruit? (No) If a tree is diseased, a farmer will cut it down because he does not want the disease to spread to other trees. So John preached to these people and told them that if they really did not repent and mean it, then they would be cut down, gotten rid of, and thrown into the fire.

What does the fruit of repentance look like? John said something interesting in Matthew 3:11. He told the people that he was not worthy of untying the shoes of the One to come. The fruit of repentance is understanding in your heart, not just in your head, that you are a sinner and that you deserve to be cut down and thrown into the fire. It is understanding that God is in charge of everything. Everything is in His kingdom, including you. Are you producing the fruit of repentance?

John told us that the kingdom of heaven was at hand. Jesus was coming. And in order to recognize Jesus for Who He was, the hearts of the people, our hearts, must be prepared to make way the paths of the Lord. The fruit of repentance is the humble acceptance of grace. We are not worthy to untie Jesus’ shoes.

What Truth did you learn from this lesson?

This lesson is a part of The Jesus Storybook Bible Hands-On Activities. To view more lessons from other bloggers that match this children’s Bible, please click the link below.

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