Jesus lesson plan – a historical figure

Did you know that Jesus is an undisputed person from history with secular records proving his existence?

No time to research the life of Jesus? Well, this is a complete Jesus lesson plan for KS1 showing why Jesus is special for billions of followers worldwide.

Here is a complete Jesus Christ lesson on where Jesus fits into history, what makes Jesus different, his miracles and rising from the dead and how he might give more meaning to life. This is Jesus who has changed so many lives.

This teacher’s copy of Jesus lesson plan is printer-friendly.

A statue of Jesus. Jesus lesson plan - a historical figure
Jesus lesson plan – a historical figure Free Stock photos by Vecteezy opens in a new tab

1. Resources required for Jesus lesson plan

Either a long, or wide board to do a timeline of historic events.
It may be best to draw it first to get the correct divisions!
It should run from 2500 BC to 2000 AD, with 500-year divisions.

There is also a sheet of timeline pictures which has got cut-out items for the children to colour and stick onto their own timelines.

2. Starter Jesus lesson plan:

Q. Is there anybody in history who you look up to, anybody who interests you?

How about Robin Hood, King Arthur and the Round Table, Oliver Cromwell, a King or a Queen, ..?
Some of the stories about these people may have some truth in them, others may be totally true and some may be a total myth.

Knowing if a historic figure was real or not

Q. How do we know if someone from history was a real person?

The things they did, were they real and true?

We have to look for ‘evidence’.
Police at the scene of a crime look for tell-tale signs that the criminal has left behind.
For example; a footprint, fingerprints, a torn bit of clothing, etc.
All this is known as ‘evidence’.

So when we look at someone in history, we look for evidence.
This would include the person’s own writings and other people’s writings about them, and also whether their name occurs in any ‘official’ documents from that time.

3. Main teaching for Jesus lesson plan

Most Historians would agree that Jesus Christ was a real historic figure because:

  • There is ‘evidence’ from 2 non-Christian writers who included Jesus in their writings shortly after the events had happened. (The Roman historian Tacitus and Pliny the Roman governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor).
  • There is also evidence from another non-Christian who wrote of Jesus about a century later. (The Greek satirist, Lucian of Samosata).
  • There are four eyewitness accounts of what Jesus said and what He did. They were written by his disciples and are known as the ‘Gospels’ (which means ‘good news’): Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, (as recorded in the first four books of the New Testament).
  • Then there are the writings of Peter (often known as Simon Peter), James and Jude, who were all disciples and therefore also eyewitnesses, (found near the end of the New Testament).
  • Lastly, there are the writings of Paul, who wrote most of the letters in the New Testament to different Churches, just a few years after Jesus.

Many of these people mention real, historical figures of that time; King Herod, Pontius Pilate, etc, who fit in with that time in history.
There is just too much ‘evidence’ to try to pretend that He didn’t exist.

This is where Jesus Christ fits in with the rest of history:

(Teachers note: Draw a line representing 2500 BC to 2000 AD. Mark off the line in
divisions of 500 years.)

Where are we on this timeline?
We need volunteer/s to mark where these historic events fit on the timeline.

(Teachers note: Choose some events and people to put on the timeline from this list. There are some pictures to cut out from the Timeline pictures (opens in a new tab):

  • The Egyptian pyramids were built in this long period: (2500 to 1650 BC)
  • Oliver Cromwell: (born 1599)
  • Mohammed: (born 579)
  • Robert the Bruce: (approx 1300)
  • Robin Hood: (approx 1200 -1300 ??)
  • Julius Caesar’s first invasion attempt on Britain: (55 BC)
  • The first ever marathon runner: (490 BC)
  • The Vikings with their long boats: (800 to 1066)
  • Samuel Pepys: (born 1633)
  • Queen Boadocia: (60 AD)
  • William Shakespeare: (born 1564)
  • King Arthur: (approx 500)
  • Winston Churchill: (born 1874)
  • The Saxons: (450 to 1066)

Now some Bible characters:

  • Moses: (born approx 1500 BC)
  • Noah: (approx 2500 BC)
  • Joseph: (approx 1700 BC)
  • Abram, later called Abraham: (approx 2000 BC)
  • King Solomon: (approx 1000 BC)
  • Daniel the prophet: (approx born 600 BC)

Q. Where does Jesus Christ’s life on Earth appear on our timeline?

He is around the zero mark, between BC and AD.
A monk had worked out a new system for numbering the years, based on the birth of Jesus Christ representing zero.
Therefore all years before that were classed as B.C. which means ‘Before Christ’ but some now call that B.C.E. (Before Common Era).

All dates after that were to be A.D. which was ‘Anno Domini’ which means ‘In the year of our Lord’ in Latin.
But the monk had miscalculated by a few years, so Jesus was actually born somewhere between 1 and 4 B.C.

(For teacher’s background interest see this article: When was Jesus born? – Opens in a new tab.)

So all through this BC period on our timeline, the prophets were predicting that the ‘Christ’, the Messiah, would come, and then Jesus came.
Christians believe that Jesus is the One who is predicted in the Old Testament.

In the world now, there are billions of Christians:

In the last 100 years, the number of Christians in the world has quadrupled from about 600 million in 1910 to well past 2 billion presently. Today, Christianity remains the world’s largest religious group.”

‘How Many Christians Are In the World Today?’ By Mary Fairchild 1

The number of active Christians is a minority in Britain, but in a number of other countries, there are vast numbers.
(Teachers note: In the 2011 UK Census 60% said they were ‘Christian but less than 5% of people were attending church, see the article: What is a Christian? Opens in a new tab)

In some countries, Christians are often killed because they believe in Jesus.

What was different about Jesus?

Let’s look at what made Him so well known throughout history, and even now.
The numbers of people that listened to Him preach are sometimes recorded:
For example, on one occasion the crowds had gone a long way out into the countryside to listen to Him teaching and it tells us:

The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.”

Matthew 14:21 (NLT)

Q. So how many people were there?

We don’t know, because there were 5000 men, plus women and children.

Q. It would have been very difficult to have had more people than that. Why?

Because there was no stage, no amplifiers, no microphones and no loudspeakers, and most of the time He spoke outdoors.
With such large crowds following Him, it became very squashed when He spoke in a house!

On one occasion, on returning home, people filled the house and were pressing around the doors and windows to try and listen to what He was saying.
Then some people carrying a stretcher with a crippled man on it tried to get to Jesus, but they couldn’t get anywhere near Jesus.

So they managed to get up on the roof and they dug a hole through it!
Then they lowered the crippled man down with ropes, while he was still on the stretcher so that Jesus could heal the man! (Mark 2:1-4)

On another occasion, the Bible tells us:

Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it,
while all the people stood on the shore.”

Matthew 13:2 (NIV)

Jesus and his miracles

But it was not only His teaching that drew the crowds, He did miracles as well:
He was teaching in a synagogue (which is like a Church) and there was a man there who had a shrivelled right hand.

The Religious leaders were jealous of Jesus so they watched Him closely to see if He would heal on the Sabbath because the Jews do not do any work on that day, and they would say that healing someone was work!

But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shrivelled hand;
‘Get up and stand in front of everyone.’ So he got up and stood there.
Then Jesus said to them, ‘I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath:
to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?’
He looked around at them all, and then said to the man,
‘Stretch out your hand.’
He did so, and his hand was completely restored.
But they were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.”

Luke 6:6-11 (NIV)

Jesus healed people and did miracles to show His love and concern for people, but also to prove that He is the Son of God and that His teaching could be trusted.

Jesus died and rose back to life

He is also remembered through history because Christians believe that He rose back to life from the dead:
Jesus used to tell His closest followers that He was going to die, but that He was going to be raised back to life and that He was going to return to His Father (God) in heaven.

So Jesus allowed Himself to be betrayed (knowing that it was Judas – one of His followers).
He was given over to the Roman authorities by His own people, to be crucified upon a wooden cross.
The ones who were jealous of Jesus and who hated Him, watched Him die upon the cross.

Before His body was taken down, the Roman soldiers pierced Him with a spear to check that He was really dead!
His friends then took Him down and put burial spices on Him, and wrapped His body in a white sheet. His body was then put in a cave with a large rock rolled against the entrance, (that was how they buried people then, in that country).
The ones that hated Jesus had asked for some soldiers to guard the entrance so that no one could remove the body.

But Jesus was raised back to life, there was an earthquake and He walked out of the cave alive!
For 40 days He kept appearing to many people, and then He returned to heaven.
There have been countless people who have believed in Jesus Christ, and there are billions of people now in the world who choose to obey Him.

Q. Would believing in Jesus Christ give a different meaning and purpose to life?


4. Plenary:

Q. Is there anybody you look up to, who influences how you live your life?

Either take a short time to discuss this, or leave it with them.
Finish colouring and assembling the timeline

Timeline pictures
See also: Is Jesus a historical figure? RE resources

This completes the Jesus lesson plan – a historical figure.

5. Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

What is the most important lesson Jesus taught?

Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well.” (John 14:6 NIV)
Jesus is saying that he is the way to get to heaven, what he says is the truth, and knowing Jesus (which means you know God the Father as well) gives peace and meaning to your life.

How do you teach kids about Jesus?

Jesus should be taught that he is a real, historic, person who is recorded in secular documents.
Understand some of his teachings and parables. (See: Parables of Jesus lesson plan).
What did Jesus come to do and why he related to everyone, even the poorest people?
Learn that Christmas was when Jesus was born as God in human flesh and that Easter was when he laid down his life for us. (See: Christmas and Easter simply explained RE resources)
Discover the Christian festival of Advent which celebrates his coming as a baby and about his expected coming again for the second time. (See Christian Festival of Advent lesson plan)

How do you introduce Jesus to preschoolers?

Even very young children can start to learn simple Bible stories – like Jesus walking on water, his various healings, his birth, etc. Even the big Old Testament stories, such as David and Goliath, Daniel in the lion’s den, etc, teach the children about trusting in God.

What are the methods of teaching Jesus used?

Jesus taught people about the kingdom of God by using stories and parables related to everyday life, he would ask questions and his lifestyle matched his teachings – his enemies could find no wrong in his life. He spoke with a heavenly authority and often performed miracles which were signs of his authority.

What are some key lessons Jesus taught?

Jesus said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9 NIV) So one lesson to learn is that Jesus is God in human flesh.
Jesus said: “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” (John 14:23 NIV) Whatever Jesus said carries God’s authority and God’s Spirit will be in us.
“From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” (Matthew 16:21 ESV) Jesus knew that he was to be sacrificed for a reason and it was prophesied hundreds of years before him: “Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds, we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:4-6 NIV) Jesus was our substitute to take on our guilt and punishment so that we could stand clean and forgiven.

References – open in new tabs:

  1. ‘How Many Christians Are In the World Today?’ By Mary Fairchild, updated on 16 April 2020 Learn Religions