Here are some ideas for each page of the book:
1. God sent Jesus to be his special King. Jesus was not like other kings.
- Does your little one know what a king is? Many young children know about kings because of fairy tales and picture books. This might be helpful—they might think of a king as someone who is good and kind. Or it might be unhelpful—it might be that they think of a book that has a mean king. It would be wise to check on what your child’s understanding of a king is.
- But here we read of Jesus as a special King, and not just a special king, but God’s special King. So Jesus is different to the kings of fairy tales and picture books, in that he is God’s King, God’s special King.
- What does it mean that Jesus is God’s special King? Well, we’re about to find out. That’s what this book is partly explaining.
- When you read the second sentence on this page, it would be helpful if you read it like so: “Jesus was not like other kings.”
- The beginning of this book “God sent Jesus…” gives us the timing. We are talking about when God sent Jesus to our world, to earth—when God sent Jesus to be born as a baby. Jesus came from heaven and his Father was God, so Jesus could have had anything. He could have had the best place to live, he could have had so many things but…
- In what way was Jesus different? Read on…
2. Some kings wear fancy clothes and live in castles. But Jesus didn’t.
- Many of the kings young children see in picture books are dressed distinctly. Perhaps they look like a medieval king, perhaps they wear fancy clothes like the one in the photo. Perhaps not. We’re just saying here ‘some kings’ not ‘every king’.
- Jesus didn’t wear fancy or expensive clothes.
- Once again “some kings… live in castles”. Often picture book kings live in a castle or a palace. Some real kings live in such places too.
- The idea that we’re trying to get across is that often kings live in places that are grand and luxurious.
- But Jesus didn’t live in a castle or a palace or even in an expensive house. Jesus spent some of his life even without a home as such (Luke 9:58).
3. King Jesus was born in a dirty animal shed. Jesus was not like other kings.
- Help your child to see the stark contrast. Not only that Jesus did not live in a fancy castle or palace, he wasn’t even born in a clean place nor where babies are usually born!
- The world’s version of the Christmas story can make where Jesus was born look like a child’s fantasy location with lots of cute animals. Far from it. Help your child to understand something of how dirty and basic Jesus’ birthplace was. In essence it was a shed. Even worse, an animal shed. An animal shed is a dirty place (and probably a smelly place).
- Jesus didn’t even have a nice bed to sleep in. It was an animal’s feeding box. And wrapped around him, weren’t beautiful white sheets and cosy blankets, but rags.
- We want our little ones to see something of the contrast between where Jesus could have been born and where he was born. Jesus was not like other kings.
4. Jesus did things that other kings couldn’t do. Jesus stopped the wind just by speaking.
- Now here’s a bit of a jump in our story line. This is now talking about Jesus after he grew up to be a man. Trying to fit the story of Jesus into this little book was quite a challenge. So you will need to help your child transition between some of the pages. Tell your child that this is when Jesus was a man (or a grown-up), not a baby anymore.
- This is a very brief summary of a much longer story in the Bible. (Mark 4:35-41). There was a fierce storm with a very strong wind and very big waves. Jesus and his friends, the disciples, were in a boat. Jesus was actually asleep and his terrified friends woke him up. And what did Jesus do? He got up. And then what did he do? He spoke. Who did Jesus speak to? The wind and the waves!
- All Jesus did was speak and the wind (and the big waves too) stopped. Help your child, with their limited understanding of the world, to comprehend that when you or I speak to the wind or the waves, nothing changes. We can’t tell the wind to stop. No one can stop the wind just be speaking, except Jesus. Help your child see the miraculous in Jesus’ ability to stop the wind just by speaking.
5. Some people were very sick. Doctors couldn’t help them. But Jesus made them better just be speaking.
- Oops. I wasn’t thinking clearly enough when I finalised the Bible verses on the inside cover ‘Notes for parents’. The combination of: a limited number of lines available (meaning that I needed to keep the Bible verses to less than one line); beginning with verses from different gospels and then trying to narrow them down to one or two gospels (with short names if possible so they fit, thus Matthew didn’t make the list); my desire to have Bible verses that are the easiest possible for little ones to understand (which meant that some of the Bible passages with Jesus healing just by speaking were not included); a cluttered brain.
- The result? The Bible passages that ended up on the ‘Notes to parents…’ inside the book don’t overtly mention Jesus healing just by speaking—however, they do talk about Jesus healing and three of these mention Jesus healing just by speaking in the account of the same healing in another gospel. Sorry for my oversight.
- So here is the revised list with no restrictions on the number of lines available for text. And here I will also include some passages that I didn’t include in the list in the parents’ notes and explain why. Thus you can see that there are healings just by Jesus speaking (which supports the text in the book) but you can also decide whether you read them to your child, and if so, how to explain them.
- Of the Bible passages I quoted in the ‘Notes for parents or other adult readers’: Mark 1:29-31—the account is also in Luke 4:38-41 where it says Jesus “ordered the fever to leave her. The fever left her, and she got up at once”. Mark 5:25-34—the account is also in Matthew 9:20-22 where Jesus says to the woman, “‘Your faith has made you well.’ At that very moment the woman became well.” Luke 7:1-10—the account is also in Matthew 8:5-13. Here a Roman officer asks Jesus to help his sick servant. Jesus didn’t go to his home but stayed where he was and said, “Go home, and what you believed will be done for you.”. And the man was “healed that very moment”. So he got better straight away.
- In Mark 10:46-52 Jesus heals blind Bartimaeus just by speaking and “at once he was able to see”.
- In Matthew 8:1-3 Jesus tells a man with a “dreaded skin disease” (a leper) that he is willing to help him. Jesus “touched him” (which is not something you do to a leper, as you could get leprosy yourself) and then he said: “I do want to… Be clean!”. And the next words in the text are: “At once the man was healed of his disease”. So he got better straight away.
- Matthew 9:1-8 has some difficult concepts/vocabulary hence it didn’t make it to the final list. Yes, Jesus simply speaks to the man saying “Get up, pick up your bed, and go home” and what happened? The man got up, picked up his bed (a mat) and walked! There’s so much to this true story. The man is paralysed (you’ll need to explain this to your child), his friends carried him and lowered him through the roof (houses in Jesus’ time were very different to those of today where I live—so this needs some explanation) and central to this healing is the idea of sin (and whether it’s easier to say “your sins are forgiven” or to say “get up and walk”). So there needs to be an understanding of sin in order for this story to be completely understood.
- With Mark 1:21-28 the problem is that it’s about a man with “an evil spirit”. This story could be frightening for a little one to hear and difficult to understand. So it wasn’t included on the short list. But Jesus clearly does heal the man with authoritative words— “Be quiet, and come out of the man!” Jesus’ words are so much more powerful than the evil spirit.
- In Mark 3:1-6 we read of a healing on the Sabbath, thus including reference to those in the synagogue. After Jesus healed the man’s hand by telling him to stretch it out, the Pharisees make plans to kill Jesus. So this healing didn’t make it on the short list.
- In the Bible there are many true stories of Jesus healing people. We don’t use the word ‘healing’ here but rather a more child-friendly expression “made better”.
- Jesus did amazing things like making sick people well, blind people see, deaf people hear, lame people walk, even dead people alive… There are a variety of healings by Jesus in the Bible. But he didn’t need to use medicine or bandages or such things. Often Jesus just spoke or touched people.
- This very brief statement about Jesus healing is talking about ‘some’ of the healings that Jesus did. This is not a statement indicating that every healing involved Jesus speaking, but that some of them were and that Jesus didn’t do the same things that doctors did.
- Young children might not appreciate the miraculous here. Children can get sick and then they often get well. So they might not see that this is anything special. One thing to help your child to realise is that Jesus could made people better straight away.
- The photo on this page is of a doctor looking perplexed. He doesn’t know how to help someone. He can’t make them better. Make sure your child realises that this is not a photo/picture of Jesus.
6. Jesus died on the cross. But he didn’t stay dead. God made him alive again forever.
- Here is a very brief statement of what Jesus did for us.
- The photo here was selected for a few very specific reasons. It is not a dark, scary photo. It has one cross (Jesus’ cross). We’re not trying to talk about the other men on other crosses (often pictures are of three crosses and here we just want to focus on Jesus). There is sun/light shining through which can be helpful when talking about the fact that God made Jesus alive again.
- It is intentional that we mention Jesus death and resurrection on the one page. For little ones, they might not really understand death at all. And those who do understand something of it and the sadness that accompanies it, can hear in the next breath that Jesus didn’t stay dead. For a young child we want to tell them the happy end without them having to wait for another book (or even another page). We want them to be really grateful for what Jesus did and not terrified by it.
- As I just said, little ones might not understand death at all. And that makes fully comprehending Jesus sacrifice difficult. So we’re just telling them the basic truth that Jesus died on the cross and God made him alive again. That’s what we want children to remember. And as they grow and learn, they will more fully understand why Jesus died.
- “alive forever” means that Jesus will always be alive. He will never, ever die again.
- This page has been written so that many different children can hear about Jesus and that the adults reading the book can add more of the bigger story and more of the details, if they wish, when they feel it is appropriate for their children. To be able to adequately talk about why Jesus died, there are lots of concepts and vocabulary that your child needs to understand. You may recognise a few of the statements below as titles for other books in this series. Here is a basic outline of why Jesus died for us. There’s lots for children to try to understand (including tricky words/concepts). I’m only including the following here so you know where you’re heading in the future in helping your child understand why Jesus died:
- God made. God made me, everyone, all the animals, the sun and sky, the sea, the trees and plants... the whole world. So God is in charge. God is in charge (or God is the boss) of all the people. God is in charge of me. See the verse quoted in The Bible, that says God “made us, and we belong to him”. Psalm 100:3.
- God knows us. Because God made us, he knows us. God knows the best way for us to live. God wants us to obey him because God’s way is the best way.
- People disobey. They don’t do what God wants which means they disobey him. Adam and Eve disobeyed God and sinned, and so God did something about it. God punished them. We sin and disobey God too. That means we can’t be friends with God. And God did something about it.
- God loves us. God loves us so much that he sent Jesus so that we could be friends with God.
- God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sin. Jesus never sinned. Jesus never disobeyed God so he didn’t deserve to be punished. But Jesus was punished for our sin instead of us. Jesus was punished by dying on the cross. Jesus died so we could be forgiven and be friends with God and live with him forever.
- Jesus didn’t stay dead. God made Jesus alive again. That’s very exciting.
- Because Jesus is alive again, alive forever, he is God’s special king of everything (but I’m jumping ahead…).
7. That means we can be friends with God forever.
- As we’ve read above, Jesus died so that we could be friends with God. And Jesus didn’t stay dead. Jesus came back to life and he is alive forever.
- When we thank Jesus for dying for us, when we love and trust in Jesus—we can be God’s friends.
- Because Jesus is alive forever, we can be God’s friends forever.
- “friends…forever” means we never stop being friends with God.
8. King Jesus is a very special king. He is a king who loves us.
- You might have noticed that we haven’t used the word ‘king’ for a while. This book started with the words, “God sent Jesus to be his special King…”. In the previous few pages we talked about what God “sent Jesus to do”. The ultimate thing that God sent Jesus to do is to triumph as King of everything.
- I purposely didn’t use the word ‘King’ on the previous two pages. They are already full of so many important concepts, written in a way that’s attempting to be brief and as simple as possible.
- Before we read about what Jesus did, we read, “Jesus was not like other kings”. Now we’ve read that Jesus could do what no one else could do. In fact what only God can do, in stopping the wind and healing people “just by speaking”. Then we read of Jesus dying and coming back to life “so we can be friends with God forever”.
- So now we can say “Jesus is a very special king”. King Jesus did what no one else could. Jesus died for us. Why? Because he “is a king who loves us”. King Jesus loves us like no other king can.
9. He is the King forever and ever.
- And again “Jesus is a very special king” because he “is the King forever and ever”. As Jesus is alive forever, Jesus is the King forever and ever.
- Jesus never stops being King. He is King Jesus always.
- I find Philippians 2:8-9 helpful here: “He [Jesus] was humble and walked the path of obedience all the way to death—his death on the cross. For this reason God raised him to the highest place above and gave him the name that is greater than any other name.” (GNT)
- And so we call Jesus “the King”. On the opposite page we read that Jesus is “a very special king” and “a king who loves us”. What we have read thus far about Jesus is really summed up in calling him “the King”. Not just ‘a king’ but ‘the King’.
10. Jesus is the King of everyone.
- We now learn something of what it means that Jesus is “the King”. Firstly, he is “King of everyone”. That means he is the most important king.
- We might read of ‘kings’ in fairy tales and hear of ‘kings’ of different countries today—but none of them has the title of “the King of everyone”.
- Your child could learn to join with you in saying the words “Jesus is the King of everyone”.
- You could add another sentence where you say “Jesus is the King of…” and your child names someone different each time, or groups of people (like babies), or adds a place—“everyone who lives in…”.
11. Jesus is the King of everything.
- Jesus isn’t just the King of everyone, he is the King of everything! Wow.
- I tried to find a photo for this page that was part of God’s creation that children could say, “Jesus is the King of…” I started with panoramic photos of majestic landscapes—quite delighted until I realised that little ones wouldn’t really appreciate the ‘magnificence’. But animals, well they are more in a child’s language. Though finding a ‘majestic’ photo of a number of animals beside a pristine lake at sunset wasn’t to be.
- So here we have a scene which includes a giraffe (quite a ‘majestic’ animal in itself and certainly the tallest) and zebras (well known for their unusual stripes). But this photo lends itself to further looking and discovering (and guessing). There are a few other animals in the photo and there are even some far left under a tree. Your child could think of other animals which might be there somewhere or might be behind the trees or might be off the page, next to the other animals.
- Each time you read this page your child could think of a different animal.
- Then there is also the ‘grass’ and the ‘trees’ and the ‘sky’. Your child could also think of something else that Jesus is the King of.
- Your child could learn to join with you in saying the words “Jesus is the King of everything”.
- You could add another sentence where you say “Jesus is the King of…” and your child names something different each time.
12. God’s book, the Bible, says Jesus is the King of kings. He is the best king ever.
- Jesus is the King of everyone and everything and that means that he is also the King of kings.
- How do we know that Jesus is the King of kings? Because of the Bible. The Bible tells us what Jesus did (some of which are mentioned in this little book). And the Bible tells us that Jesus is “King of kings”.
- Hopefully by now your child will realise that Jesus is the best king ever.
13. “he is… King of kings.” Revelation 17 verse 14
- In Revelation 17:14 Jesus is called the ‘Lamb’, the ‘Lord of lords’ and the ‘King of kings’. Since the other two titles for Jesus in this verse would take quite some explaining for a little one, I’ve just quoted “King of kings”.
- Kings are often seen as very, very important. Well, King Jesus is more important than any other king. He’s more important than everyone!
14. Thank you God for King Jesus. Thank you God that I can be your friend because of Jesus.
- We have so much to thank God for in God’s son, God’s special King.
- Help your child to see the importance of thanking God for King Jesus.
- Think of how early on in this little book we read that Jesus didn’t live in a castle or wear fancy clothes. He was born in a dirty animal shed. And yet he is the King of kings! Help your child to see how amazing King Jesus is. And be thankful.
- Back to Philippians which I quoted earlier. Jesus “gave up all he had, and took the nature of a servant… He was humble…” Philippians 2:7-8. Help your child, as they grow, to gradually understand Jesus’ servanthood—he didn’t look like a king, he didn’t live like a king, in fact he served people, looked after people… died for us. He was a “servant King”.
- Help your child to see that King Jesus, King of everything, came and died because he loves us. And he is alive forever and ever!
- Given all this what else do we need to thank God for? That “I can be your friend because of Jesus”. Jesus is the only ‘way’ we can be friends with God (see John 14:6).
- My prayer is that your child will know Jesus as their King and Saviour and live forever with him. What joy awaits us in heaven!
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