An alphabet gospel (1) - Things Jesus said
What follows is a collection of some of the sayings of Jesus, which provide a personal or family focus for weekdays and Saturdays over a month.
In some Bibles the things that Jesus said are printed in red. This helps them stand out and reminds us how important it is to know, remember and act on his words as reported in the gospels. We need to share these words with our children, in our families and through church, as early as we can, because what we learn when we're young is more likely to stay with us throughout our lives.
What follows is an alphabetical collection of some of Jesus' sayings, providing 26 different statements as focuses that will last throughout the month - if you take a break on Sundays! Alongside each one are some simple thoughts or questions to get you talking with your children about what Jesus said. If you print this off, it could be something to use for a prayer time together, perhaps around a meal or at bedtime.
Of course, you will also need a Bible with you if you want to look up the verse in its context and explore the story more fully.
So are you ready? Well, here goes...
Ask and it will be given you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. Luke 11:9
Jesus invites us to ask questions about the things that puzzle us; he wants us to talk with him in prayer and listen out for his answers - which perhaps may come in the form of yet more questions! What things do you want to ask Jesus about today?
By this all men will know that you are my friends if you love one another. John 13:35
The most important way we help other people to become Christians is not by what we say but by what we do. What sort of wordless witness can you be to others today?
Come to me all who are weighed down with heavy loads... and I will give you rest. Matthew 11: 28
Many of the most famous icons (special religious paintings) of Jesus show him holding a Bible open at this verse. Why do you think this invitation of Jesus means so much to Christians?
Do you believe I am able to do this? Matthew 9:28
Jesus spoke these words to two blind men who wanted to be healed. Why do you think he needed to ask them this question before he helped them?
Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man, who built his house on the rock. Matthew 7:24
How do you think the words of Jesus can become a foundation for us to build on? Foundations need to be deep and they usually take a long time to put down, so what do you think that this is saying about us and about the words of Jesus?
Fear not... you are of more value than many sparrows. Matthew 10:30
Jesus often tells us not to be afraid. What sort of things are you afraid of? What comfort is it to us that God knows about every sparrow that falls?
Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. Mark 16:15
Once we have come to trust in Jesus, then surely perhaps the best thing for us would be for God to take us straight to heaven! Why doesn't God do that? God has work for us to do here on earth. God wants us to be good news people, changing the world through the telling of his story. What stories do you know about of how this is happening today?
He who has the ears to hear, let him hear. Mark 4:23
How could you put this famous saying of Jesus in modern language? Why do you think Jesus said this so often?
I am with you always, even to the end of time. Matthew 28:20
This is the last thing Jesus said before he went back to his Father in heaven. People's last words are often special. How do you think the first followers of Jesus were strengthened and comforted by this saying and what might it mean for you as a family?
Judge not, so that you won't be judged. Matthew 7:1
We are always making judgments about other people based on what they wear, what they say and what they do. Why is this so dangerous do you think?
Keep my commandments. John 14:15
Which commandments do you think Jesus is thinking about here? Is it just the Ten Commandments? What other special commands did he give?
Love your enemies. Matthew 5:44
Just think how radical and crazy this sounded when Jesus first said this to the crowds. What sort of objections would they have made, do you think? Is this really a practical commandment? Why did Jesus say it and how can we ever obey it?
Man shall not live by bread alone. Matthew 4:4
Clearly people need more than bread to be really alive. What sort of things is Jesus talking about? He goes on to say that people need the commandments from God's book. What do you think about that? How can they help us be really alive?
No one puts new wine into old wineskins. Mark 2:22
This is one of those strange sayings of Jesus, which must have got people puzzled. He's not really talking about wine, so what is he getting at? People had just been asking him about the fact that his followers are not doing normal religious things, so how does this strange statement help?
Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep. John 11:11
Jesus did not see death as an end but nevertheless this did not stop him being very sad when people did pass from this life. Later in this chapter we hear that Jesus cried over Lazarus. What do people today think about death and how should Christians understand it?
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. John 14:27
The word 'peace' was part of a normal greeting in the times of Jesus but he seems to fill it with new meaning. It is peace from God and with God and with each other. How do we receive this peace today? How can we pass it on to those around us?
They found Jesus in the temple, asking them questions. Luke 2:46
Jesus started asking questions as a young boy! He carried this on in his teaching as an adult in the same way, stirring people up, often by replying to questions with yet more questions! Can you think of some of the questions Jesus asks those who come to him? Why is it so important to ask questions?
Repent and believe the good news. Mark 1:25
These are the first words we hear Jesus speaking in this gospel. To repent means to change your mind, turn around and start all over again. What sort of things would they have had to change their minds about if they wanted to follow Jesus and how might this be good news?
Seek first God's kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be yours as well. Matthew 6:33
Jesus says people worry about all sorts of things - their appearance, their possessions and their careers - whereas only one thing really matters and that is being part of God's kingdom and doing things God's way. How can we check that the things we're worrying about don't end up being more important to us than what God cares about?
The kingdom of heaven is like... Matthew 13 (in several places!)
Jesus used all sorts of special stories - parables - to try to explain what it's like living with God as King. Can you remember some of the stories that he uses to describe the kingdom of heaven? What sort of comparisons does he make and which do you find most helpful?
Unless you are born again, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. John 3:5
This famous saying quite baffled one of the clever teachers of Jesus’ day, called Nicodemus. What do you think Jesus really means? How can we start life all over again?
Verily, verily, I say unto you... John 13:16, 20, 21 and 28 and many other places
This is the language the older translations of the Bible use to express the phrase 'truly, truly'. Jesus says these words before many important sayings when he really wants us to listen and remember. It is his way of underlining something special. Look up in a concordance the number of times Jesus uses these words and what sort of sayings follow them.
With God all things are possible. Matthew 19:26
Jesus' friends found some things that Jesus said almost impossible to believe, but they had forgotten the power of God and how it can turn things upside down. What sort of impossible things are you facing as a family? Are you ready to be surprised by God and trust in his power to make new things possible?
eXcept a grain of wheat falls into the earth it remains alone; but if it dies it bears much fruit. John 12:24
Jesus spoke these words at the beginning of Holy Week. The principle of a death having to come before life is part of nature and so Jesus is saying that the story of the cross is written deeply in the way the world is. Hold some seeds and marvel at how from such tiny beginnings plants, trees and vegetables can grow... but only when the seed is buried in the ground!
Your sins are forgiven. Matthew 9:5
Jesus shocked people by saying these words to those who came to him for help. He could say this because he was God on earth. To be free from guilt is the most important healing of all and is offered to all who come with faith to Jesus.
Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; I must stay at your house today. Luke 19:5
Jesus knew his name and where he was, even though Zacchaeus thought he was hidden up in a tree! Jesus knows each of us by name and wants to sit down and be friends with us right where we are. As you pray together today remember that Jesus is sitting or kneeling in the room with you and he has your name on the palms of his hands - right next to the nail marks.