Power over sin – healing the paralysed man

Bible base:

Luke 5:17-26

Teaching objectives:

To show that the Bible says Jesus had exceptional power to forgive the things that we do wrong. This backed up His claim to be the Son of God.

You will need:

  • A stereo that does not work (if that is hard to find, detach the wiring in the plug, but leave the plug attached to the flex.
  • A jacket with the words ‘I can’t walk’ attached with safety pins to the outside and ‘I have done things that are wrong’, ‘I have bad attitudes’ and ‘I am not perfect’ safety-pinned to the inside.

Introductory activity:

Show the stereo to the pupils and tell them that you are going to play some great music to them (you could get quite excited about this!). Make sure that the stereo is not plugged in and that this is visible to the assembly. Also, make sure that there is no CD in the player. Make a big show of pressing play and then pretend to be confused because nothing happens. Can they spot what is wrong?

Once they have spotted that it is not plugged in and you have fixed this, press play again and wait for the music. Can anyone guess what’s wrong this time? Open the CD player to check that the CD is in correctly, but of course, the CD is not there.

Put a CD in the player and again build up to pressing ‘play’ and waiting for the music. What is wrong this time? The CD player is plugged in, the CD is in, but it still will not play.

The CD player is broken inside. Although it looks fine on the outside, and although all the obvious problems are now fixed, there is still a bigger problem inside.

Today’s story from the Bible is about a man who had two problems, one obvious and one hidden inside.

Choose a volunteer to come to the front and dress them in the jacket with the words ‘I can’t walk’ visible to the assembly. Ask them to sit on a seat at the front.

Everyone who walked past this man as he sat in the street knew what the problem was, because it was obvious. Everyone could see that he couldn’t walk. This problem was on the outside.

But, just like the stereo, this man also had problem inside, although he may not have realised exactly what this problem was. Actually, this is a problem that we all have.

Although this man could not walk and run about with his friends, he did have some very special friends who cared for him and spent time with him. These friends wanted to do anything they could to help their friend to walk again. They knew that Jesus had helped lots of people, and so they took their friend to him.

They had to try really hard to get to Jesus. He was so popular that the house where He was staying was packed with people. They actually had to go up on the roof and lower their friend down on his mat to Jesus. I wonder what they thought Jesus would say? He had healed lots of people simply by saying something. Would he just say ‘Get up’, or would he touch the man’s feet and say ‘be healed’?

Jesus actually said a very strange thing! He said:

‘My friend, your sins are forgiven.’

Sin means anything we have done or said or thought that makes us less than perfect. Ask the members of staff in the assembly if anyone in the room is perfect. No one is perfect. We have all done some of the wrong things the Bible calls ‘sin’.

So, when Jesus said that the man’s sins were forgiven, he meant that all the things he had done or said or thought in the past that were less than perfect were forgotten about by God!

Some people were very cross! Who did Jesus think he was? How could he say that he forgave him for everything he had ever done wrong? They believed only God could do that.

The answer is in the hidden problem that this man had inside. Just like the stereo which was not plugged in, there was something very obvious wrong with the man – he could not walk. But what was wrong inside was more serious. Ask the volunteer to open the jacket to reveal the words written inside – ‘I have done things that are wrong’, ‘I have bad attitudes’, ‘I am not perfect’.

These were the problems that Jesus was dealing with first, because they were more serious than the problem which everyone else could see.

Once Jesus had forgiven the man, he did tell him to pick up his mat and walk home. And that is exactly what the man did! The man went home healed, not just on the outside, but on the inside too.

As you are saying this, take the jacket from the pupil and ask them to return to their seat.Put the jacket on yourself. Take the sign from the outside.

As a Christian, I believe that the problems that I have on the outside may be different to those of the man in the story, but the problem on the inside is the same for everyone. Christians believe that Jesus can deal with all the other problems in our life too, but the main thing he wants to deal with first is the problem on the inside. What is that problem? It’s the fact that we aren’t perfect and have done and said things that are wrong – what the Bible calls ‘sin’. Christians believe that God wants to forgive us, just as Jesus forgave the man in today’s story.

Optional prayer time:

Give thanks that God wants to deal with the wrong things in our life and to forgive us.

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