This week’s passages talk a few times about the compassion of Jesus. Many of these stories are relatable to our kids, and are a good opportunity to talk about the ways Jesus is the same as us and the ways he is different.**
**Small disclaimer: don’t let your children try to convince you (as my son has “jokingly” done before) that based on Wednesday’s reading they no longer need to wash their hands. It’s flu season y’all! But all jokes aside, below are some highlights for this week’s reading. Also, if you’ve been following the daily readings as a family, we’d really, really love to hear about your experiences, the good and the bad. Please leave your stories in the comments!
Monday 2/18 – Jesus Feeds (Way More Than) The Five Thousand
- It seems that the word would always spread fast, wherever Jesus was travelling.
- It’s good to remember that crowds of thousands were following Jesus at all times – we try to remind our kids of these framing facts when we start each reading. Like “remember how yesterday Jesus was at such and such place and he said such and such thing? Well today he is moving on and a crowd is moving with him.”
- Another framing fact here is Matthew says there were 5,000 men, besides women and children. There were way more than 5,000 people here.
- When Jesus saw the people following him, he had compassion on them. The disciples on the other hand, were not showing compassion at first. Why do you think they were acting that way?
- Discuss how Jesus is different from and the same as us. Jesus is different because he is the son of God and can perform miracles, like feeding thousands of people with five loaves of bread and two fish. But Jesus is also the son of man: he gets tired, needs time to himself to reflect and pray and he feels compassion for other people. He knows exactly what people feel. He understands fatigue, fear, anger, pain and hunger.
Tuesday 2/19 – Walking On Water
- First Jesus goes by himself to pray in a mountainside. Remember the sermon from couple of weeks ago? Have you implemented any of Andrew’s suggestions?
- If you don’t have a set time and place to pray, try to decide as a family when would be best. For us, mornings are not going to be the most relaxing times for reflection. But right before bedtime, when all is calm and quiet, seems to work like a charm for us. Find the best time to suit your family and commit to it. With lent coming up, maybe that’s an opportunity to turn something we sometimes do into a habit.
- We’ve now talked about faith with your children for a while. They should understand the basic concept. Ask your children (even the young preschoolers) what they understand about faith.
- All Jesus requires from us is to have faith. To fully rely on him. But even those closest to him, those who watched him walk on water, those who walked on the water themselves, have doubts. Fear is dangerous. Discuss what fear is currently preventing you from pursuing. Trusting in God’s plan and timing, requires faith.
Wednesday 2/20 – You Should Still Wash Your Hands
- This is one of the most valuable lessons we want children to understand. What comes out of your mouth is important.
- Washing hands here is about ritual purification – it is definitely not about hygiene. So the pharisees in this case were just imposing rules and tradition for the sake of imposing rules and tradition. But getting stuck on the rules and tradition without understanding and living your faith in God is a fruitless exercise.
- A couple of weeks ago I challenged you to write this down “For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” and look at it every evening and reflect on the day. How did it go?
Thursday 2/21 – No Is Not an Option
- The Canaanite woman (a Gentile, not a Jew) is another great example of faith.
- First she will absolutely not take a no for an answer. The love for her daughter and the faith she has in Jesus won’t allow her that.
- Remember who else had such faith and didn’t fit the mold? Remind children the story of the centurion who knew Jesus could heal his servant even without touching him or being in the same room.
Friday 2/22 – Don’t Forget the Thanks
- We end the week with a story very similar to the Monday story.
- Jesus goes on a mountain, crowds follow him, Jesus heals them.
- But don’t omit a small line in the reading. After Jesus healed the crippled and blind, the people praised God. Talk to your children about how important it is to always take the time to acknowledge our blessing and say thanks.
- What are the things you can say thank you and praise God for today, right now?
- Jesus always shows us his compassion. He feeds thousands of hungry people with few loaves of bread and some small fish.
- Think of one way this week you can show compassion to someone.