the rich man
To encourage pupils to question the idea that having lots of money is what is most important in life.
Things you’ll need
- A Data Projector, laptop and screen
- Pictures of a large house, an expensive car, a yacht, a private jet from Internet
- 2 large money bags (bags with £ sign on), filled with ‘money’
1 Talk about the National Lottery. Pretend that you recently won millions of pounds (make sure the children know that you are pretending). Talk about the expensive possessions you have bought with some of the money (show the pictures of the house, car etc). Ask the children what they would buy if they were you? Talk about the difference it would make to their lives. Would it make their lives perfect? Would it make a difference to the way they treated other people?
2 Make the point that many people who are rich are still not happy. It has always been that way, even 2000 years ago in Jesus’ time. Jesus was a wise man and many people came to ask him questions about the best way to live their lives. Tell the story of the rich young man who once met Jesus.
There was once a young man who was very rich. He had everything he needed– a big house, a fast car … oh, cars weren’t invented then … Well, he probably had a very fast camel… and lots of money (shake the money bags), but there was still something missing. He knew that money wasn’t everything and he believed that loving and obeying God were very important too. He wanted to be sure that when he died he would be able to go to heaven and be with God for ever.
‘What must I do to get the life that never ends?’ he asked Jesus.
‘The way you live your life is very important,’ Jesus said. ‘You mustn’t murder anyone, you mustn’t steal, you mustn’t tell lies about anyone, you mustn’t cheat, you must respect your parents…’
‘I’ve obeyed those rules since I was a boy,’ said the young man. ‘Is there anything else?’
Jesus looked straight at the young man. He really cared about him and wanted what was best for him. ‘There is one more thing you need to do, he said. ‘Go and sell everything you have, and give the money to the poor. Then come and follow me.’
Pause to consider what that would mean to a rich young man. Talk about the things you have imagined buying with your lottery money. How would you feel about selling them all and giving all the money away? How would the children feel if it was them in that position? Ask the children what they think the rich young man did.
The rich young man was very sad to hear Jesus say this because he was very rich. He looked at Jesus and he looked at his money and thought about his big house and his fast camels and all the other things he had…and he turned and walked away from Jesus. Jesus was very sad too.
A Christian viewpoint
1 Jesus taught his followers that God must be most important in their lives. For many people, money and the things they own are more important to them than God. Jesus taught that we have a choice– you can’t serve God and money.
2 This story of the rich young man makes Christians think hard about how much money they keep for themselves. It doesn’t mean that all Christians give everything they have away, but it reminds them that money mustn’t become the most important thing in their lives.
Sometimes when we see the National Lottery on television and we hear about all the things rich people have, it makes us think that having lots of money is what life is all about. Jesus taught that the way we treat other people is more important.
1 Ask the children to think about what is really important in their lives. Is what they own more important than the way they treat other people?
2 Ask them to think about other people in school. How could they go out of their way to be generous to those around them today? (Make it clear you don’t mean just by giving things away!)