Thursday, February 5, 2009

John 3.16.


I have been sharing teaching ideas with children's ministers through my monthly Newsletters and on my 'Blog' sites since 2002. In these 'Special Blogs', I have grouped together some of my ideas into some of the major Biblical teaching areas. In this way it is hoped that readers will be able to go directly to a particular subject to view some ideas - object lessons, teaching tips, stories etc., or even to prepare a complete children's lesson (or lessons) on that subject.

Maurice Sweetsur

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Contents - All 'Special Blogs'.

1. Creation.
2. Christmas.
3. Easter.
4. The Bible.
5. Prayer.
6. Hearing from God.
7. The Ten Commandments.
8. John 3.16.
9. Teaching Memory verses.
10. Gospel Illusions.
11. Object Lessons (using natural laws).
12. Lessons involving balloons.
13. Lessons involving fire.

Other Blog sites from Maurice Sweetsur :-

Children's ministry -
All teaching material (All Newsletters) -
Object lessons / Illusions -
Bible lessons and Teaching tips -
Stories, skits and puppet plays -
Bible answers for kids -
Kidzone (Children's site) -
Kidzone - Archives. -

To find out more about my ministry to children, go to my main 'Blog' -

Contents (John 3.16).

Teaching John 3.16.
Illustration - Receiving Jesus.
Stories to illustrate John 3.16 :-
1. A soldier gives up his life for his friends.
2. Message in a bottle.

Teaching John 3.16.

I have taught this, the best known verse in the Bible, in a number of different ways. Here are four of my favourite ones.

1. The GOSPEL.

I often introduce this scripture by showing the word GOSPEL down the left hand side of a card, explaining what it means - Good news about Jesus Christ. I then uncover the rest of the card to show the verse in full, as shown below.

G od so loved the world that he gave his
O ne and only
S on that whoever believes in him shall not
P erish, but have
E ternal
L ife.

John 3.16.

Having got the children to repeat the verse a few times, I then get them to make it more personal by replacing "the world" and "whoever" with their own names, and then repeating a few more times.

2. The Greatest.

A second way of teaching this verse is to explain each part as you read it - as per the illustration below. I then often conclude by getting the children to do the illustrated word search.

John 3.16.

God (The greatest Person) so loved (The greatest extent) the world (The greatest company) that He gave (The greatest act) His one and only Son (The greatest gift) that whoever (The greatest opportunity) believes (The greatest simplicity) in Him shall not perish (The greatest promise) but have (The greatest certainty) eternal life (The greatest possession).

The Gospel.

Find all the words in John 3.16 in this WORDSEARCH.


3. God's Valentine.

Write out John 3.16 as shown below. (You could write it on a "heart" shaped card). The red letters spell the word "VALENTINE". Having explained the meaning of the verse, ask "Can anyone see what word the red letters make? That's right - Valentine. Can anyone tell me what a Valentine is? That's right, if you love someone, you can say that they are your Valentine. And on Valentine's day (February 14th.) many people show their love for each other by giving them a gift - perhaps flowers, chocolates or jewellery.

John 3.16 reminds us that we are God's Valentine. He showed us how much he loves us by giving us a gift - something much better than flowers, chocolates or jewellery - He gave us His Son, Jesus Christ. And there is no more wonderful gift than Jesus.

God so lo v ed the
a world th a t He gave his
one and on l y Son,
aa that who e ver
aa believes i n him
aaaa shall no t
aaaaaaaaaa d i e but
aaa have eter n al
aaaaaaaaaa lif e .

4. Using the Mobius strip to teach John 3.16.

The intriguing Mobius strip effect has been around for over 100 years, and in Newsletter 47 I shared a few ideas about how it could be used. But one of it's best uses is in teaching memory verses.

Preparation. Take a paper strip (about 100 cm. long is ideal) and join the two ends together, making a half twist as you do so. You are then able to write out your Memory verse on the paper. Thus, it will be about 200 cm. long, but because of the Mobius effect will still be able to be read in one continuous straight line.

Possibly a better way of making up your Mobius strip is to print out your verse on six lines (e.g. printed longwise on A4 paper). Cut the lines into strips, and then paste strip 4 onto the back of strip1, strip 5 onto the back of strip 2, and strip 6 onto the back of strip 3. Join strip 1 to strip 2, and strip 2 to strip 3. Finally, join the beginning of strip 1 to the end of strip 3, remembering your half twist. (This is actually a lot easier than it actually sounds!)

You will now be able to get the children to try and work out John 3.16 from the pictures - see Figure below.

Notes. The hand reaching down from the cloud is the oldest known visual symbol of God - He's reaching down to us from heaven. The needle and thread are for sewing - "so". The face is male, so "he". That's a grave minus r. What does a snake say? what does an owl say? Notice the leaves are plural. The dress shows a hem - "him". A shell - "shall". A knot - "not". 1/2 - "have". The clock, showing time is crossed out, meaning not time but eternity - "eternal" or "everlasting".

Note. Alternatively, you could simply use the picture diagram on its own, and get the children to work out what it says.

Illustration - Receiving Jesus.

This is an illustration that I use following teaching on John 3.16. All you need is a small gift. I usually make a balloon animal (as the gift) while I am talking about it.

State that John 3.16 talks about a giver (God), a gift (Jesus) and a receiver (Us). No matter how wonderful any gift is, it will not do you any good unless you receive it. I have a gift here (produce or begin to make your gift), but unless you receive it, it is no good to you at all.

Some of you may say "I don't want your gift" Well, if you don't want it, you won't get it, because I will not force you to take it.

Some of you may say "I don't believe it. It's too good to be true. Teacher must be tricking us." Well, if you don't believe it, you can't receive it.

Some of you may say " I will think about it" There is nothing wrong in thinking about the gift, but all the time you are thinking about it, it is not yours and it is not doing you any good.

Some of you may say. " I will have to earn the gift. I will have to sit up straight, be really quiet and still, and then perhaps "teacher" will notice me and give me the gift because I deserve it." Well, I like you behaving that way, but that's not the way to get the gift because it can never be earned.

But one of you may simply say to himself / herself " Yes, I want that gift," and get up, walk out to the front, take hold of the gift, and it will be theirs.

It is exactly the same with God's gift of Jesus Christ to the world - and the Eternal Life He brings with him. Some people say to God "I don't want your gift of Jesus. I want to live my own life, go my own way, do my own thing." Much as God still loves them (they are still part of the world) He won't force His gift of Jesus on anyone. We must choose to receive Him.

Some people say. "I don't believe in the gift. I don't believe in Jesus. I don't even believe in God." Well, if you don't believe, you can't receive.

Some people say. "I will think about the gift. Perhaps when I am older I might receive God's gift." There is nothing wrong with thinking about the gift, but the problem is many people never make up their minds, and so always miss out on what God wants to give them.

Some people ( in fact most people ) think they have to earn God's gift. They say. " I will have to be very good. I will not have to do anything bad. I will have to go to Church or Sunday school every week. I will have to say my prayers and read my Bible every day. Then, perhaps, God will be really pleased with me and give me His gift of Jesus." These are good things to do, but you can never earn God's gift.

But some people say "Yes, I want to receive Jesus into my life," and do so by faith - by simply asking God for His gift of Jesus, and believing that they receive Him.

At this point, you will probably still be holding your gift - unless there is someone very smart in your group who has taken you at your word and received it already! You will probably have to keep prompting until someone comes out and receives it. You could say:-"Well, it is still here.""I wonder who will be first to believe me. All you have to do is take it.""You won't get it by thinking about it, or by sitting up straight, but someone could come out and receive it."

When someone receives your gift, state that they didn't deserve it or earn it, but they got it because they were the first to believe that all they had to do was take it.

Conclude by stating that unfortunately you only had one gift, but the good news is that there is enough of God's gift of Jesus for everyone. There is no need for anyone to miss out.

If appropriate, you could then lead your group in a prayer to receive Jesus.

Stories to illustrate John 3.16.

1. A soldier gives up his life for his friends.

This story is taken from the film "Bridge over the river Quay." I cannot vouch for the details being 100% accurate, but you will get the overall picture.

During World war 2, some British soldiers were taken captive by the Japanese, and made to work very hard building a railway track through the jungle in Burma.

One day, the Japanese guards discovered that an axe was missing from the storeroom. Naturally, they thought that one of the British soldiers must have stolen it. The camp Commander lined all the British soldiers up, and asked for the man who had stolen the axe to step forward, because they were going to take him away and shoot him. Nobody moved. "Very well" the Commander said. "I will give you one last chance. If the soldier who stole the axe doesn't step forward right now, I will choose one soldier at random and shoot him instead. Then, if the guilty soldier still doesn't own up, I will keep on shooting other men until he does so. Will the soldier who stole the axe step forward now." A soldier took one step forward. He was taken away and shot.

Sometime later, the guards checked on the storeroom again. To their surprise they found that all the axes were present! They had made a mistake the first time they had counted. Nobody had stolen an axe. That British soldier had not stolen an axe. In fact, he had done nothing wrong. What he did do was give up his life so that his friends might live!

What do you think the other British soldiers thought of their friend when they found out he had given his life that they might live? If, in some way, they could have communicated with him, what do you think they would have said? I think they would have said something like this. "Words cannot express how grateful I am to you. You gave your life for me. Now I am going to give my life over to you. Wherever you want me to go, I will go. Whatever you want me to do, I will do." I think that would have been the natural response.

What a wonderful act it was for that soldier to give up his life for his friends. But do you know that Jesus gave up his life for you BEFORE you were His friends (Romans 5.8). What is your response to Jesus? Do you say "so what" or " who cares." I know what my response was. As soon as I realised that Jesus had died for me, I said to him " Words cannot express how grateful I am to you. You gave your life for me. Now I am going to give my life over to you. Wherever you want me to go, I will go. Whatever you want me to do I will do."

2. Message in a bottle.

An American minister once thought up a very unusual way of sending a message. Firstly he thought, if he was going to send a message in this novel way, what was the very most important message he could send? It didn't take him long to decide. Then the minister, with the help of some friends, made thousands of copies of this message, went down to the beach, put each copy of the message in bottles, and threw them into the ocean.

That certainly wasn't a very efficient way of sending a message as most of the bottles would have been broken up by waves or rocks, or simply lost at sea. However, after a short time, the minister began receiving replies from people who had found his message. They were so intrigued by it that they wrote to the minister to ask for more information. Altogether the minister received over 1,400 replies, from people in many different countries, all eager to find out more about this wonderful message.

What do you think the message was that the minister sent out? It really is the most important message of all, and is taken from the Bible, John, chapter 3 verse 16. For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him shall not die, but have eternal life.

That is the best and most important message this world has ever received because it talks about a wonderful person, a wonderful fact, and a wonderful gift.

A wonderful person. That's God's Son, Jesus. And there is nobody more wonderful than Him. He gave up his life for us all.

A wonderful fact. God loves you. And there is nothing you could ever do to stop Him loving you, because God Is Love.

A wonderful gift. Eternal life! And there is absolutely nothing that can compare with that.