New Testament Lessons

John Baptizes Jesus

Matthew 3, Mark 1, Luke 3, John 1

Children’s Illustrated Bible p.202; Family Story Bible p. 174; The Beginner’s Bible p. 303



The Christian practice of baptizing new members as a rite of initiation developed from Jewish roots. The practice of baptism or ritual cleansing was common among Jews. From the Dead Sea Scrolls found at Qumran, scholars know that the Essenes, a Jewish sect of ascetics, were baptized regularly and not just once. Some scholars believe that John the Baptist may have been a member of a sect like the Essenes.


Baptisms had two meanings in Jesus’ lifetime, first as a bath for ritual purity and second as part of preparation for a religious service.  In the story of John the Baptist, John is concerned with the way God’s people have turned from God (sin) and calls them to be baptized. Through baptism, we commit to a new lifestyle, receive support form the Holy Sprit in a community of faith, and live in expectation that we will be part of God’s promised reign.



Doves are powerful symbols in many cultures. In Greek tradition, the dove represents the human soul. In China, the dove represents peace in the next life. What do doves mean to you? What other bible stories contain doves? (Noah’s Ark) What does the dove in that story represent? Is the dove a good symbol for the Holy Spirit? Why or why not?



What baptisms have you seen or been a part of? What happens in a baptism? Do you remember being baptized?

The gospels of Mark and John both begin with his baptism. What has already happened in Matthew’s story? In Luke’s?

In some churches, people are baptized when they are babies and so they don’t remember. In other places, people are baptized when they are older.  Baptism is a way to welcome someone into a community. It is a team effort. One person baptizes another. In our church, godparents promise to help raise the baby spiritually. Jesus was baptized into a community. John was a part of Jesus’ family as his cousin, and spiritually.



Baptismal Names

Bring Lives of the Saints and Pick a Baby’s Name books. For younger children, look up names of students in the class and discuss their meanings. For older classes, this can be done as a confirmation activity. Confirmation is a renewal of baptismal vows that were made for us. Some Christians who are getting confirmed choose a name that represents an aspect of their spiritual growth. What name would you choose? What does it represent about who you are becoming?


Hanging Doves

Make hanging doves. Check the links below to see details to make two types of doves.

Create a sturdy cardboard template of a dove’s head and body. Use the template to make a dove bodies of white cardboard, or let children trace the template and cut out their own dove. Make a slit in the dove’s body. Show children how to pleat white tissue paper to make a fan. Decorate the dove by drawing or gluing eyes, beak and feathers. Slide the pleated paper through the slit to make wings.  Punch a hole in the body and thread a white ribbon through it for hanging. Hang in the class or in your room.


Detailed instructions

Dove 1

Dove 2


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