What does it mean for us that Jesus became a human? Our Savior left His throne and came to Earth to live as a human. He humbled himself and came to serve others, and ultimately to die a criminal’s death for our redemption. This lesson focuses on the tasks Christ took on when He became human, and how we should strive to follow after Him by living as He did, with humility and selfless service. We can encourage children to put others first and live in a way that imitates Jesus.
Philippians 2 reminds us of the sacrifices Jesus made for our sake. He emptied Himself and came to Earth as a human, in order for us to be free from sin and death. We can rejoice knowing that the work He has done covers our wrongs and makes us new. We should also praise the name of Jesus, recognizing the amazing things He still does in our lives, and living in a way that honors and worships Him.
Act Like a Servant! Sunday School Lesson on the Humility of Jesus
Passage: Philippians 2:1-11
Target Audience: Kindergarten-6th grade
Materials Needed: Construction paper; paper plates; magazines; glue; markers or crayons; tape; scissors; decorative supplies; cups; string; ; Bibles.
Don’t miss the full Sunday School Lesson on Philippians 2:1-11, the related children’s sermon object lesson, and the preschool Bible lesson on humility.
Lesson Opening: This passage focuses on examining the model that Jesus set us as humble servant. We see how he set aside privilege and came to earth to live and die for us. Because of this, we are called to follow his example and live humbly and obediently. Open with some games or discussions to spark thought and introduce themes. Here are some ideas:
- Mime it! Have students partner up and mime one another. Whatever one partner does, the other has to reflect exactly, as an image in a mirror. Do this as a simple warm-up or make it more competitive by evaluating teams against each other.
- Imitation games: play variations on charades. Play the traditional version (with differing themes and categories), or play “sound charades”, imitating the sound of an animal or thing, or even the way another person would speak.
- Attitude adjustments: provide pictures of kids displaying various types of attitudes or facial expressions. Have students identify the attitude, and make up a story of why they are feeling that way. Invite them to brainstorm ways that they could change and improve on attitudes.
- Who was Jesus? Start the discussion by brainstorming attributes and attitudes of Jesus Christ, contemplating who He was and how He lived. Have students list everything they can think of.
- Lifestyles of the…compare and contrast the way people live who have very little and the lifestyles of those who are quite wealthy. Discuss the blessings of living by humble means. To make this discussion an interactive game, designate areas of the room to represent the “haves” and “have-nots”. Describe an example of a lifestyle and have student run to the part of the room that stands for it. Or have students team up and allow the “humble” to chase the “haughty”, who will join team humble if tagged.
- Write a letter! Today’s passage features an epistle, which was originally a letter written by Paul. Have students write an encouraging letter to someone special in their lives.
Tell students that today’s passage focuses on Jesus and how and why He came to Earth. It gives us joy for the hope that He provides, and also reminds us that we are called to live humbly and serve others, just as Christ did!
Kids Bible Lesson: Philippians 2:1-11
This passage is not long, but has some very important themes within the verses. Have students take turns reading the verses, or read them aloud to younger children, and pause to explain and consider what the components mean.
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. -Philippians 2:1-2
Start off by explaining to students that these verses come from a part of the Bible we call an “epistle.” That means it was originally a letter, in this case written by Paul to the people in a church he helped in a place called Philippi (hence the name “Philippians.”). The Philippians had helped Paul a great deal and he was thankful for them. He also wanted to encourage them to continue living in ways that honored God and helped one another. This passage focuses on how the Philippians should consider the amazing sacrifice that Jesus made when He came to Earth as a humble human.
Ask: Have you ever written a letter to someone to give them encouragement or just say hello? Who are people that bring joy to your life?
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Discuss what these things mean. What is conceit, and what is humility? Here Paul encourages the people to think of others as more important than themselves. Sometimes we want to put our own interests first, but it’s important to remember that other people have feelings that matter. Jesus came to love and serve us. We know that it feels good to have people care about us, so we should behave in ways that demonstrate care and love for others.
Ask: What are some ways that you could show humility or put someone else before yourself?
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. -Philippians 2:5-8
This is really a remarkable set of verses. Of course, we know that we cannot be Jesus, but this admonishes us to have the same mindset that He did. Jesus did not “grasp” onto His God nature, but instead became a person. We call this the “incarnation” (have younger students repeat the big word). It means that God, creator and master of the universe, became a tiny baby. He was completely human. He laughed, cried, ate, drank, slept, and even went to the bathroom! He didn’t live a big fancy lifestyle, but served others and lived in humility. At the end of His life, He gave Himself up to be killed as a criminal, dying a painful and utterly humiliating death. And He did that all for us, so that we could live and have our sins washed away! But we know that isn’t the end of the story…Jesus did not stay dead, but rose again, and lives forever, as can we!
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. -Philippians 2:9-11
Jesus brought Himself low, to be lifted high. As we marvel in the fact that He came to Earth for us, we should rejoice in Him and exalt in His name and the work He did and does. We can praise Him every day and be thankful for what He did. And we can strive to live this way also! We can put others first and live to love and serve God and His people. We can praise and worship the Lord for the wonderful things He has done. And we can live in the presence of Him always.
Ask: How can we exalt the name of Jesus and tell others of the great things He has done?
Humility is not only a good idea, but an attitude that Jesus demonstrated. We should think about how we approach tasks in our daily lives. Are we working to help people and show love to God? Or are we motivated by selfish desires? It’s easy to be selfish. But we can ask Jesus for help to have a humble attitude.
Ask: Why is it important to remember what Jesus did for us? How can we act more like Him?
Close with prayer, thanking God for Jesus and asking Him to help us live in humble service to others.