Children are used to taking instruction and following directions from others. But what does it mean to recognize and obey authority? And what kinds of people are reliable for information and authority? It’s important to elucidate that Jesus is the ultimate power. Students should respect authorities that God has placed over them (parents, teachers, etc.), but sometimes life can seem uncertain or confusing. Kids might not understand who to listen to and how. The Gospel story this lesson explores emphasizes the love and authority behind the teachings of Jesus. He can still be trusted to guide our lives.
Lesson focus: This simple lesson seeks to remind children that we can hope and trust in Jesus. We listen to His teachings through prayer and Scripture, and recognize that He has power and authority in our lives. We take comfort in knowing that Christ has control over all things.
Passage: Mark 1:21-28
Target Audience: Kindergarten-6th grade (variable for activity emphasis)
Materials Needed: Construction paper, scissors, decorations, glue, string, hole punch, small containers, cups, yarn, pipe cleaners, plastic bags, socks, aluminum foil, Bible (optional, depending on crafts and activities of choice).
Games and Lesson Introduction
Lesson Opening: This lesson emphasizes the importance of Jesus having God-given authority. He has power and control, and we should trust Him and listen to Him.
Here are some activities to get kids thinking… (select the best ones for your audience and age group):
- Clean-up time! Since part of the authority of Christ involves His ability to cleanse us spiritually, play a game of quick cleaning. Scatter items or trash about the room, and see who can gather the most pieces up the fastest.
- Who’s the winner? Part of Christ’s authority involves His ability to win out over evil. Have a rock/paper/scissors tournament to discuss what it means to be stronger than someone or something else.
- Who is an authority? Have students select topics of interest that they know very well. Describe what it means to be an authority on a subject, and challenge them to explain their expert knowledge for other kids.
- Who is in charge? Having authority refers to power and control. Of course, Jesus Christ is the most important authority in our lives, but we recognize that He has also given us other adults to govern in various ways. Discuss types of authority figures (coaches, police officers, teachers, parents) in the lives of kids, and have them make a card or letter thanking one of them for the work they do.
Explain to students that we will be talking about a special and important element of who Jesus is. While He was on Earth, He taught and worked with authority. He still has power today, and He can do anything!
Ask: Who teaches you things? Where do you go to get information? How do you know if the information you receive is reliable and true?
Mark 1:21-28 Sunday School Lesson: Jesus Has Authority
Bible Lesson: This passage gives us a story from the Bible that reminds us that Jesus had power and authority. He was and is a teacher who could control anything, yet cared for each individual and demonstrated His love through His actions. In the Gospel of Mark, we see Him heal someone from an evil spirit…
And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. 22 And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. -Mark 1:21-22
Jesus began His earthly ministry by teaching people in the church areas. Some were skeptical about who He was, but many people noticed how He spoke like someone who knew what He was talking about. He had authority when He instructed people.
Ask: What does authority mean? Who are some authorities in our lives? Where do good teachings come from?
Explain that we rely on people for information if they have what we call “credentials.” People who have background or experience in something can be trusted for information. Jesus most certainly had credentials, but the people watching in this story didn’t know that already. After seeing how Jesus taught and interacted, they recognized He was a powerful and important person.
And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 24 “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” -Mark 1:23-24
As Jesus taught, there was someone who had an evil spirit inside him. That means this man had somehow let something in that was not of God. There are forces at work in the world, and one of them was torturing this man. However, even the demonic spirit recognized that Jesus was God’s son. In fact, it cried out from within the man, and was probably pretty terrified when it realized who Jesus was. However, it was no match for the Messiah.
But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” 26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. 27 And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” 28 And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee. -Mark 1:25-28
Wow, all it took was a few words, and this menacing evil spirit came right out! Jesus silenced it and healed the man, and it made others notice there was something remarkable about Him. No wonder His fame spread. People recognized that Jesus had real authority. He was doing something others hadn’t been able to do.
Ask: Do you think more people believed Jesus because they saw what He did? If you saw someone do something like that, would you be eager to tell others? Who would you tell?
(Remind children that we should be eager to tell others about Jesus, because we know He HAS done amazing things!)
Jesus proved that He had strength. He taught with knowledge and He directed with power, even over evil spirits living inside someone. His authority went even farther, though. We see the miracles of Jesus demonstrating power over all sorts of things…even natural events! The Gospels tell of His commands to wind and waves. Even His followers marveled at the authority Jesus displayed over things:
One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they set out, 23 and as they sailed he fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger. 24 And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. 25 He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?” -Luke 8:22-25
Ask: Where did the authority of Jesus come from? Who gave Him power?
Explain that Jesus had power over everything: evil spirits, sickness, death, even the weather! This was because He truly was God. That control came from the creator of all things. And it still governs all that happens on Earth. Sometimes we might feel sad, confused, or scared. But we can recognize that Jesus rules over all things. Not only that, but we should put Him first in our lives. If the wind and the waves and the evil things listened to Him, we should, too!
Close with a prayer thanking God for being powerful and worthy of trust. Ask for help in listening to His word and keeping hope in Him.
Crafts: A few crafts that involve the authority of Jesus include:
- A “clean-up kit” to remember to have clean hands and hearts (sanitation outside and in)
- A “comfort pillow” to recognize our rest in Christ’s ability
- A “Jesus wins trophy” to celebrate victory in Him
- A “ruler ruler” pointer stick to show that God is in charge.
What does it mean for us that Jesus has power and authority? In the Bible, we see miracles of healing and cleansing. In our lives, we know that Jesus can keep us spiritually “clean”, and that we can listen to and rely on Him for all things. No matter what challenges come our way, God wins! These crafts celebrate the element of being “clean”, as well as the promise of victory in Christ. A goodie bag includes cleaning supplies, cozy comfort elements, and a bookmark. This can be kept or given away as a gift. A trophy decoration provides a shiny reminder that God wins!
Bible Verses or Captions to Consider…
And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. -Mark 1:22
And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” -Mark 1:27
The True Champion…Jesus wins!
Clean on the Outside…Cleansed on the Inside!
God’s word cleans my spirit.
God’s love comforts!
More Teaching Ideas