Lesson Prep

Background Scripture (read 2-3 times during the week)

Luke 2:41-52

Story Summary

When Jesus was 12 years old, his parents took him to the temple to begin his Jewish education. Although this is a short story, there are several important keys:

  • Jesus stayed behind when his family had left to go back home. This is actually a difficult little detail for kids to understand, because if they did something like this, it would be seen as disobedient to their parents. Be sure to teach this in a way that does not make it look like Jesus did this out of disobedience. From the narrative, it seems like there was a large group of people all traveling together. The traveling party must have gotten a little loose in their accounting for the children. Also, he was 12 by this time and would have been given a little more liberty than a small child. Verse 50 specifically calls out that he was obedient to his earthly parents.
  • Jesus amazed the teachers with his understanding (indication of his divine nature). It was remarkable to all those in attendance how he was answering the teachers' questions. There seems to be an indication here that Jesus was aware of his divine nature at this point in his life. He tells them they should have known to find him in his “Father's” house.
    • Had he talked to his family about his divine nature by this point?
    • How did Joseph feel when Jesus says that the temple is his Father's house?
  • Jesus grew and developed as a boy turning into a man (indication of his human nature). Luke calls out 4 specific ways Jesus grew:
    1. Wisdom (mentally)
    2. Stature (physically)
    3. Favor with God (fellowship with the Father)
    4. Favor with all the people (socially)

What You Will Need

Video Options

God's Story - Jesus Gets Lost (wordless)

From Crossroads Kids Club

Jesus in the Temple

From Saddleback Kids

Jesus Growing Up

From Saddleback Kids

Mary and Joseph Find Jesus in the Temple

From LifeKids

Resource Sheet

Jesus in the Temple as a Boy Coloring Sheet

This coloring sheet depicts Jesus interacting with the teachers in the temple


1. Warm Up get your kids talking and engaged

Have you ever been lost in a store or somewhere without your parents? Were you scared?

Today, we are going to learn about a time when Jesus was 12 years old and was missing from his parents too. 

2. Teach the Story teach a holistic story

Read story from a Children's storybook Bible for younger children.

For older children, read the story from an age-appropriate Children's storybook Bible or read directly from the Bible.

3. Bible Mastery give them basic Bible skills

Scripture for Kids to Read Aloud Luke 2:41-52

4. Comprehension Questions make sure they understand the story

First, ask the children if they have any questions about the story. What to do if you don't know the answer?

  • Where did this story take place?
  • Jerusalem
  • Why were Jesus' parents in Jerusalem
  • They went to celebrate the Passover
  • Does anyone remember what the Passover Feast celebrated?
  • When God delivered the Israelites from Egypt
  • How old was Jesus when this story took place?
  • 12 years old
  • How long was Jesus missing from his parents?
  • 3 days
  • Where was Jesus during that time?
  • In the temple with the teachers, listening, asking questions, and giving them answers
  • What 4 ways does the Bible say that Jesus grew in?
  • Wisdom, stature, favor with God, favor with man

5. Faith Questions open up a conversation about faith and the gospel; close with prayer

  • The Bible tells us that Jesus grew in 4 ways. He did grow in stature (he got bigger), but he also grew in wisdom and favor with God and man.
  • Are you growing in wisdom?
  • How can we grow in wisdom like Jesus did?

6. Memory Verse hide God's Word in their heart

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6

Reinforcement Activities

Who is missing?

Scripture After the Feast was over, his parents left to go back home. The boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. But they were not aware of it. 44 They thought he was somewhere in their group. So they traveled on for a day. Luke 2:43
  • Have students sit in a group on the floor.
  • Choose one child to be "it" and have them leave the room briefly, or hide their face in a corner.
  • Choose one of the children in the remaining group to hide.
  • Have "it" reenter the room and figure out who is missing from the group.

Hide and Seek Game

Scripture After the Feast was over, his parents left to go back home. The boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. But they were not aware of it. They thought he was somewhere in their group. So they traveled on for a day. Luke 2:43
Supplies large play space with places to hide.
  • Play traditional hide and seek game.
  • or
  • Hide a picture of Jesus and allow younger students to find the picture.

Make Sandals

Heads up! Repeat activity from Burning Bush lesson
Scripture They thought he was somewhere in their group. So they traveled on for a day. Luke 2:44
Supplies cereal box cardboard, duct tape, pipe cleaners or dollar store flip flops, ribbon, beads,
  • Mary, Joseph and Jesus travelled from Nazareth to Jerusalem every year for Passover.
  • Trace a flip flop onto cereal box cardboard.
  • Make straps out of cardboard or pipe cleaners.
  • Use duct tape to attach straps to bottom of shoe.
  • or
  • Provide dollar store flip flops and add embellishments, such as ribbon.

How tall are you?

Scripture And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man. Luke 2:52
Supplies Tape measure, slips of paper, candy
  • Have the children guess how many inches each child is, write it on a piece of paper (so no one knows each guess) and then measure them.
  • Give out prizes or candy to the student whose guess is closest each time.
  • Be sensitive to height-related situations with your children (especially if you have little people in your class), but don't make a big deal about it. Just be matter-of-fact about each person's height without calling attention to anyone in particular

Faith Walk

Heads up! set up maze ahead of time
Scripture I am the way, the truth, and the light. no one gets to the father except through me.
Supplies chairs, masking tape, blindfold
  • This is a great opening activity or memory verse game. Set up chairs to form a maze, you can use the chair backs to make a wall, or tie ropes or masking tape between chairs to create the barrier. Explain to the children that one end of the maze is Earth, and the other end is Heaven. We are all trying to get to heaven. Blindfold one student and have the other students shout out directions to the blindfolded student. Allow the student to have some difficulty getting through and then have one teacher guide the student through the rest of the way. After each student has had a turn, explain to them that it is impossible to get to Heaven with out the help of Jesus. He is the only way, he is the truth and the light.

Growth Charts

Scripture Jesus became wiser and stronger. He also became more and more pleasing to God and to people. Luke 2:52
Supplies large work space for children to spread out, large rolls of paper, markers or crayons, scissors
  • Remind your students that Jesus was once a child like they are.
  • Jesus was growing in wisdom and stature (ESV).
  • Trace an averaged sized adult onto the paper, one per child.
  • If making person cut outs for each child is not realistic, simply cut a thin rectangle and mark a line to mark off the size of an average adult. (Like a growth chart)
  • Have students cut out their person.
  • Measure the children onto their person (or rectangle) and mark how tall they are.
  • Write the date next to the mark.
  • Allow students to draw their faces and clothing onto the paper or decorate rectangle.
  • Writing the verse Luke 2:52 would be a great addition!
  • Jesus' ministry began when He was an adult, but even as a child, He was growing and learning about God.
  • Tell your students to take the growth chart home and place it on their door or wall and keep track of how much they grow!

Temple Craft

Scripture After three days they found him in the temple courtyard. He was sitting with the teachers. He was listening to them and asking them questions. uke 2:46
Supplies Jesus In the Temple Craft Sheet (below), scissors, crayons, glue sticks, half-sheets of plain paper
  • Print out a Jesus in the Temple Craft Sheet (see below) for each student and give them a half-sheet of plain paper.
  • Have students cut the doors so they open.
  • Glue onto the plain sheet of paper.
  • Open temple doors and have the students draw Jesus inside.