It is my opinion that the Gospel of John contains some of the most beautiful and moving words in the gospels, and truthfully, all of scripture. That is why this Christmas season I have decided to have my children memorize the first five verses in the Gospel of John.
It is not my goal to have my children memorize this passage to impress people (Disclaimer: there is nothing wrong with impressing people). The Bible instructs us to study scripture, teach it to our children, and to pretty much talk about it whenever we get the opportunity! If you don’t believe me, check out Deuteronomy 6. It is a lot easier to talk about scripture if you know scripture. If that’s not enough to convince you, I’ll remind you that Jesus himself often quoted scripture from memory.
Benefits of Memorizing Scripture
The benefits are more than spiritual, my children get an amazing boost of self confidence when they successfully recite something that they have set out to remember. Memorizing scripture is the perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone by focusing on the Word of God while also working on skills that will help in academics and in life.
Memorizing text requires planning, time management, discipline and consistency. These are skills that benefit anyone who has hon ed them! Heck, teaching these skills to my children forces ME to work on them in myself.
This advent season my goal is to have my children memorize John 1:1-5. Today we will read through the verses and focus on memorizing just this little part:
“In the beginning was the Word…”
I ask my children to repeat it throughout the day whenever I think about it. When setting out to memorize something a good foundation is key. If your child is unsure about the first part of what he is memorizing, then it isn’t going to get any better when he tries to add more to it. It is also worth saying that every child is different and this passage could possibly be too difficult or too easy for your child. I’m pretty sure my 6-year-old will be able to manage it, but the 5- and 3-year-old… I’m not so sure. I’ll keep you posted.
Even if your children (and mine for that matter) aren’t able to participate in the memorization part of this adventure, they will still benefit from the reading and hearing of the Word. Let’s start by reading the memory verses so everyone knows what they are in for. You can read this to you children or have them read as much of it as they can to you. If you have more than one reader in your home they can take turns.
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.John 1:15, NIV
The poetic nature of these verses are what really makes them sing, but it also makes them tricky for young ones to comprehend. Splitting them up into small daily doses gives you time to walk them through it and explain to them what it all means. Children are sharp though, and I think that they’ll understand more of it than you think. Often times it is us adults who don’t give kids enough credit for what they can do.
This passage is the perfect place to start because it really is starting from the beginning, not just the beginning of advent, but the beginning of EVERYTHING.
What Should You Teach Them?
This is what I tell my children:
- Jesus is the Word of God.
- In the very beginning, before creation, Jesus was there with God.
- Not only was Jesus present with God at the creation, but Jesus IS God.
- Without Jesus, the creation would have never happened.
- If I have time I read Genesis 1 to them and have them look for a pattern. Quite a few of the verses start with, “And God said…” What God says is God’s Word. Jesus is the Word of God. Therefore, God created everything with Jesus!
- Jesus is life and light. He gave us life and light at the beginning. When the world fell into sin, we lost our rights to both of those things.
- There are many places in the Bible that teach us about the darkness of sin and the light of God; there are also many that teach us about how sin leads to death and righteousness leads to life.
- Romans 6:23 tells us, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
- In John 8:12 Jesus says in his own words, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
- What a blessing it is to know that the light of Jesus is shining in a dark world and that the darkness will not overcome it!
- That’s it! A good way to close out the lesson is to say a prayer as a family. I was surprised by the willingness of my children to pray after finishing this lesson. Each of my three oldest took a turn leading the prayer. And let me tell you something, neither my husband nor I had dry eyes by the time they finished. Sometimes the sweetest, most pure words of love come out of the mouths of children.