Summary: This children’s lesson was used at an evening vespers hour at an elementary age youth camp. It deals with the ministry of John the Baptist

John the Baptizer: A totally different kind of guy!

Matthew 3:1-6

(Have who ever is available come in before you and announce your coming in a loud voice like a town crier saying something like, “Now hear this! The most honorable reverend (insert your name here) is coming this way! Prepare to hear him speak! Clear the ear wax out of your ears so you can hear him! Wake up the person next to you and don’t let them fall asleep while he is speaking! Get ready! He is about to appear before you!”)

Can you guess … from what you just heard … who we will learn about today? This session we will learn about John the Baptizer. To make his name shorter, I’m going to give him a nick-name: I’m going to call him J. the B. He was a totally different kind of guy than anyone you’ve ever met before. Here are some of the ways J the B was different from everyone else.

• J the B preached out in the desert: Other preachers and prophets would often preach in the synagogues, or in the market places of the cities and towns, but J the B preached in the wilderness around the Jordan River. This means that the people who wanted to hear him preach had to pack a sack lunch, fill a canteen with water, put on their sun screen, and hike into the desert to hear what he had to say. J the B didn’t make things easy for them! They had to take a long hike and “rough it” out in the desert if they wanted to hear what he had to say. The amazing thing is that many hundreds of people did just that.

• J the B preached a different kind of message: Other preachers would preach the kind of things that made people feel GOOD about themselves. They would flatter them or butter them up. They would tell them, “You are God’s Chosen People. You are better than other people. God loves you the best!” You see, the Jews were proud of the fact that they were God’s special people … but J the B told them that what matters to God is not whether you’re a Jew or not … but whether your HEART is right with God. You see, J the B was getting people ready to meet JESUS. That’s why he told the people, “The kingdom of heaven is near! And YOU are not ready! So repent and prepare for your Messiah to come!”

o What does it mean to repent? How do you do it? Why do it?

o J the B said they needed to do MORE than just REPENT - they needed to do the kind of things that proved they meant it! What kinds of things do you think you would have to do in order to prove you have repented?

• J the B dressed in a different way: Most people in that day would wear a sort of tunic (kind of like a nightshirt). It was made of soft cloth like wool or linen and it had a cloth belt. They might wear a cloak made of heavier cloth over this (kind of like a bathrobe). That’s what looked normal back then. But J the B didn’t care about looking normal. He was a rugged outdoorsman. His tunic was not made of soft cloth … it was made of rough camel hair. The way J the B dressed reminds me of Davey Crockett or Daniel Boone. They didn’t buy their clothes at Target or Wal-Mart. Their clothes were made from the animals they trapped. They were tough, rugged mountain men … and J the B was also rugged and manly.

• His diet was different as well: Most people back then liked to eat bread that looked like tortillas, and various kinds of meats or fish, but not J the B. He ate what he could find out in the wilderness. Does anyone know what J the B ate? The Bible says J the B ate locusts and wild honey. That means he ate what we call Grasshoppers.

o Some people in other parts of the world still roast and eat grasshoppers. Did you ever eat one? Doesn’t sound very appetizing does it? These people (on screen) probably did it on a dare!

o J the B didn’t get his honey in a little plastic container. He would find a honeycomb in a tree and carefully pull out some of the honey without bothering the bees too much.

J the B lived a hard life. He never had any fancy clothes or good food … but he never complained. Do you know why? You see, J the B only cared about ONE THING … he wanted to get people READY to meet Jesus!

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