Shepherds, Angels, and Wise Men

December 6, 2009

Mrs. Annemarie, Mrs. Rita, and Mr. Paul taught this on Dec 11, 2009 to nine children.

—Story of the birth of Jesus for children; lesson 2 of 3.—

Scriptures: Matthew 1-2; Luke 1-2


  • name cards
  • prayer — recite our Lord’s sample prayer together
  • sing psalms and recite verse from previous lesson — especially working on Hymn 17 about shepherds in Judea
  • teach the story/lesson
  • break for snacks, etc. (shoes off)
  • review questions
  • activity
  • review a couple of our memory verses
  • close in prayer



[review and continue where we left off with the prophesies last week]

Stable in Bethlehem

(shepherds, angels)

Joseph was a carpenter [Matthew 13:55] who lived in a town called Nazareth. [Show on map.] From what we read in the Bible, Joseph was most likely a poor man. [He could not afford to buy a lamb later in Jerusalem– just a bird.] He was engaged to marry a young lady from the same town named Mary. Both of them were descendants of king David. King David was Joseph’s great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather.

Remember from last week that God sent an angel named Gabriel to Mary. Gabriel told Mary that she would soon give birth to a son, and name Him Jesus.

Remember also, that when Joseph found out that Mary was pregnant even though she was not yet married, he did not want her to be punished or embarrassed in front of everybody. So, [thinking Mary had sinned] he planned to forgive her and quietly call off the wedding, but an angel visited him in a dream.

The angel said to him, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what [has been created][a] in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to  give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Do you remember from last week what “Jesus” means? [Savior– it means that He can save us.][b]

This was a fulfillment of one of the prophecies of Isaiah that we studied. (Isaiah 7:14.)

Joseph obeyed the angel and took Mary as his wife. In that culture, a wedding was usually a week-long celebration.

The land of Israel was controlled by the mighty Roman Empire at this time. Many people thought of the Roman rulers as gods. The first official emperor of Rome, Caesar Augustus, commanded that every person in the Empire return to his or her home town so that all people could be counted. This is why Joseph and Mary needed to travel to Bethlehem, the town of David.

They traveled south for several days. The final part of their hike into Bethlehem was a steep climb.

While they were in Bethlehem, Mary gave birth to a baby boy. She wrapped him tightly with strips of cloth and laid him in an animal stall, possibly right inside a food trough.[c] Joseph, Mary, and their new son were in this animal shelter because there was no room in the inn at Bethlehem.

There were shepherds in that area, guarding their flock of sheep that night. An angel came to them, and brightness from God shined around them. This was terribly frightening.

However, the angel told them not to be afraid, because he had very good news to tell them: “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”

The angel told the shepherds that they would know it was true when they found a baby wrapped in strips of cloth, laying down in a stable.

Suddenly, there was an army of angels with the one who first spoke to them, and they were all saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

The shepherds went to Bethlehem and found Joseph, Mary, and their new son laying down in the stable, just like the angel had said. They told people what the angel had said to them, and what they had found in Bethlehem. People were amazed about what the shepherds said.

Mary remembered everything that had been said, and carefully thought about these things deep in her heart.

The shepherds came back to where Joseph, Mary, and Jesus were. They were celebrating and praising God.

Temple in Jerusalem

(simeon, anna)

When this baby savior was eight days old, He was officially named Jesus and  marked as an Israelite under the great promises of God.

Joseph and Mary traveled north for 7 or 8 kilometers with their baby boy to Jerusalem city, in order to devote Him to God.

There was a good man in Jerusalem named Simeon who was waiting for them to come with baby Jesus! God had told Simeon that he would not die until he had seen the new King and Savior. He met Joseph and Mary in the temple and held baby Jesus in his arms, thanking God. Simeon knew that this little baby, who couldn’t even talk, was the great Light of the world. Having seen this baby, Simeon felt freedom to die as a joyful man.

Joseph and Mary were amazed. Simeon then spoke a prophecy to Mary. He told her that God had planned that this child would cause both the destruction of some people and the saving of other people, and that even Mary would be greatly affected by her son Jesus.

There was also an old lady in Jerusalem named Anna. The Bible calls her a prophetess. Just like some men were prophets, this lady was a prophetess. Her wisdom came from God, so she was a great teacher. She spent all her time in the temple, worshiping God. When she saw Joseph and Mary, she immediately came up to baby Jesus and thanked God and spoke to other people in the temple who were waiting for this great day in Jerusalem.

House in Bethlehem

(wise men)

When they were finished in Jerusalem, Joseph and Mary returned to Bethlehem with their son, and lived in a house. Houses around that area were usually built out of sun-dried brick, and people spent a lot of time on their flat roofs when it was more cool in the evening.

Around this time, some wise men arrived in Jerusalem from the East. They had seen the rising of a star, and they knew that it was the “star of the King of the Jews.” They were asking people in Jerusalem, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?” They wanted to worship Him.

The king over Israel at the time (chosen by Roman officials), was a half-Jew named Herod the Great. He was not very happy to hear about this new “king of the Jews.” Remember that name, Herod the Great, because we’re going to talk about him a lot more next week.

The star that the wise men had seen rising now went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where Jesus was, in the house in Bethlehem. With great joy, they entered the house and saw Mary with tiny Jesus.

These wise men got down on the ground; they bowed and worshiped baby Jesus. It is important to stop and think now. God has commanded that we not worship any god other than Him, and that we not bow down or worship anything or anyone but Him. But God, our Father in heaven, has always been happy when people worship His Son Jesus, like when these wise men worshiped Jesus as a baby. What does this really mean about Jesus? Is He just a very important angel, or is He someone much much more important?

Many years later, as an adult, Jesus asked His students, “Who do you say I am?” This might be the most important question in all the world– this is a question that every person must answer. Who do we say that Jesus is? A prophet? A wise man? An angel? Some people find it difficult to confess really how important Jesus is. Jesus is God.

The wise men had treasure chests holding expensive gifts of gold, incense, and perfume. They gave these gifts to Jesus.

Review Questions

Most of the kids didn’t want to play the two team game for review questions this time. (Unless it were out in the larger room where they could run around!) So instead, we all stood, and kept asking questions; once a child had answered a question, she could sit down. The kids who were seated could still raise their hand to answer a question, but we kept going until even our tiniest little guy was seated.


Mrs. Annemarie prepared snowflake-making; Mrs. Rita lead a game about traveling to Bethlehem and what Joseph and Mary might bring (the kids had to remember each item in order). Paul printed the *phew* coloring pages.


  • colorings: HERE, HERE [small], HERE, HERE
  • food
  • stickers
  • our wall map of Israel
  • Genevan Psalms


[Dec 18, 2009 will be “Bethlehem to Egypt, Tragedy in Bethlehem, Egypt back to Nazareth”; ref: Matthew 2]

[Then we will break for two weeks before 8 lesson study of two ways to live.]


  • [a] The NIV uses “conceived”; the Greek gennaō can mean begotten, produced or created.
  • [b] Joshua, the Hebrew antecedent, means “Yahweh is salvation.” It is often simplified to “God saves” or “Savior.”
  • [c] The Greek word phatnē more likely refers to a stall wherein an animal was tied, possibly for eating. A manger was possibly/likely there; however, there is no precise scriptural evidence that Mary laid baby Jesus in the food trough. The only other place this word is used is in Luke 13:15, where it is unlikely to refer to a manger– it is difficult to imagine why someone would to tie their animal directly to the food trough rather than generally in the stable.

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