A job to do – Jesus meets Levi

Bible base:

Luke 5:27-32

Teaching objectives:

To show Christians believe Jesus came to do a very specific job on earth: to ask people to turn away from doing wrong things and follow him.

You will need:

  • Cards with the following things written on them: Lots of money; a good job; a big car; friends and family; happiness; peace; lots of chocolate
  • A packet of sticky plasters
  • Fine clothes to dress ‘Levi’
  • “Healthy people do not need a doctor but sick people do” written on card

Introductory activity:

Choose two or three volunteers to come to the front. Show them the cards withall the ‘good things’ written on them. If they could only have three things in life, which three would it be?

Once they have chosen three, ask them to reduce it to two, and finally, if they could choose only one thing, what would it be?

There are lots of things that we would like to have in life, but while a nice car and a big house might be fun, life would be pretty miserable if you had these things but no one to share them with. Human beings need to have other people around them, and for most people, friends and/or family will be the most important things in their life.

The person we are going to meet in today’s story had lots of things in life. His name was Levi.

Choose a pupil to be Levi.

The Bible says Levi was very rich and so was always very well dressed (dress up ‘Levi’ in fine clothes). But although Levi looked good, he was not very happy as he did not have any friends.

Levi was Jewish, as were all the other people who lived in his town, but Levi worked for the Romans. The Romans had taken over the town and made the Jewish people pay huge taxes to them, so people really didn’t like them very much. Levi’s job was to gather in these Roman taxes from his people, the Jews. Often he would gather in more money than people owed and keep the rest for himself. As you can imagine, Levi was very unpopular!

So, while Levi was very well dressed on the outside, the reality was that he was not a very nice person on the inside. There were lots of things wrong in his life, such as greed and selfishness – what the Bible calls ‘sin’. The Bible describes sin as a sickness, so to help us remember that Levi is not as fine as he would like to appear on the outside, we’ll give ‘Levi’ some plasters to cover up his sin! Stick plasters over Levi’s fine clothes.

One day, as Levi was walking along on his own, as usual, an amazing thing happened. Levi had got used to being ignored by everyone he met, but suddenly, from the middle of a big crowd, a man came towards him.

And even more amazingly, the man actually spoke to him! What do you think he said?

Take suggestions from the assembly. Pupils may suggest that the man would ask Levi why he had plasters all over his clothes, or would tell him he looked stupid. Remind the pupils that the plasters would represent sin – bad things that Levi had done or thought – so the man might have asked him why he was so bad or so mean.

Actually what he said was this:

‘Come and be my follower!’

The man who came to speak to Levi was Jesus. Levi must have been so surprised that this man whom everybody wanted to be near had asked him, unpopular and sinful Levi, to be his follower! What Levi wanted more than anything was friends and here was Jesus asking him to come and be his friend. Levi was so happy that the first thing he did was throw a party so that everyone else could come and meet Jesus.

When people criticised Jesus for being friends with someone like Levi, he said a very strange thing.

Show them the card with the words: 

‘Healthy people do not need a doctor but sick people do.’

What do you think he meant? Look at our ‘Levi’ for a clue!

The Bible teaches that Jesus came to call people who were needy to be friends with God, not people who thought they were already good enough. He came to call sinners, people who wanted his help to make them better people on the inside, not just on the outside.

Start to take the plasters off Levi’s clothes

Christians believe that Jesus helped Levi to do this, and this is what the Bible says Jesus can do for people today too. Christians believe that this was why Jesus came to earth: to help people to turn from the bad things they do and follow him.

Optional prayer time:

Give thanks that Jesus cares about all the things that are wrong inside us and that his reason for coming to earth was to help people, not to make their life harder.

 

 

 

 

Soap – What you are inside is important

Aim

To help pupils understand that just as we need to be made clean on the outside, so God wants us to be made ‘clean’ on the inside.

Bible base

Mark 7:20-23 – ‘dirty’ on the inside.

You will need:

  • 5 different brands of soap
  • A ‘smellograph’ score chart on card Soap Smellograph pdf
  • A copy of ‘Reasons why I never wash’ on Card (see Content below)
  • 2 or 3 blindfolds
  • A small prize (eg a bar of soap or sponge)

Preparation

Prepare cards as suggested

Content

Introduction

1. Begin by saying that if you were to mention the word ‘soap’, many people would immediately think of Home and Away or Coronation Street, but actually, there is another meaning of the word! Soap is something we use to wash with!

At Christmas or for birthdays, one of the most popular gifts is soap. Comment that you are not sure what we are trying to say to our friends and relatives about their personal hygiene, but obviously, making ourselves and our loved ones clean and smelling nice is a favourite national pastime!

2. Explain that the very first soap was made in the Nile valley around 6000BC and carried by Phoenician seamen all around the Mediterranean coastline. Soap is actually a substance made by the action of alkali on fat. Most of us don’t care about that, we just want the right colour and fragrance.

The ‘smellograph’

1. Display the ‘smellograph’ score chart.

2. Explain that you are going to have a competition. Ask for two or three volunteers. Blindfold them and explain that they are going to have to smell five different brands of soaps (eg Dove, Palmolive, Imperial Leather, Fairy washing-up liquid, Ariel washing powder). To make it easier, you could tell them in advance the five brands they have to choose from. The winner will be the contestant who can recognise the most brands of soap correctly.

3. In turn, ask the contestants to smell the different soap brands one at a time. Record their verdicts on the ‘smellograph’.

4. When the contest is complete, take off the blindfolds, reveal the results and award the winning contestant a prize of a bar of soap, or a sponge!

Reasons why I never wash

Ask the pupils whether they think our national obsession with cleanliness is really necessary. Tell them that one young person didn’t think so. He gave these reasons for why he never washed (display the ‘Reasons why I never wash’ list on card):

  • I was made to wash when I was little, but I got bored with it, so I stopped.
  • None of my friends get washed. I’d look stupid if I started!
  • I haven’t got the time.
  • I still get washed on special occasions, like Christmas and Easter!
  • The bathroom’s always too cold!
  • Maybe when I’m older, I’ll start getting washed. I’ve got plenty of time.
  • There are so many different brands of soap. How do you know which one to choose?
  • People who wash are hypocrites – they reckon they’re cleaner than other people.
  • People who make soap are only after your money!

Application

  1. Point out how silly these reasons for not washing are. We all need to be clean. Life wouldn’t be anywhere near as pleasant if we all stopped washing!
  2. The Bible makes it clear that it’s not just on the outside that we need to be made clean. It talks about our wrong attitudes, actions and thoughts (called ‘sin’), which make us unclean and keep us separated from a holy, pure God. The Bible also talks about Jesus, who was born in a dirty stable, in a dirty world, and who wants to clean up people’s lives on the inside.
  3. Comment that it is interesting that people often give very similar reasons for saying ‘no’ to God, as the young person gave for saying ‘no’ to soap. Ask the pupils to look again at ‘The reasons why’ list, and try to replace the references to soap and bathrooms with God, the Church and being cleaned up on the inside.
  4. Conclude with a few moments of quiet for pupils to read through and think about ‘The reasons why’ list in the way you have suggested.

 

What are you like? – Easter

Topic:

Easter

Aim

To teach children that Easter is a time when Christians think about the wrong things they’ve done and remember that God forgives sin.

Things you’ll need

  • Paper and pencil
  • The Body Quiz (see below)
  • 2 large body outlines drawn on paper (you could use wallpaper) cut up, with Blu-tack attached ready for children to stick on wall.

Bible Base

Luke 18:9-14

Content

1 Ask for a couple of volunteers who can draw. Give them pencils and paper and tell them they have about three minutes to draw a self-portrait. Whilst they are doing that divide the rest of the children into two teams and do the ‘Body Quiz’ using the questions provided. When a team gets a question right they get a body bit to stick up. The first team to make a body wins. Select questions appropriate for the school you’re in and the age level of the children (the questions in the quiz get progressively harder).

2 After the quiz, look at the self-portraits and see how accurate they are. Congratulate the artists on their efforts. Point out how hard it is to draw a self-portrait, especially without a mirror, as we often forget what we look like. In fact there are lots of things we don’t know about ourselves.

3 Tell the children that in the Bible there is a story Jesus told about two people. One thought he knew everything about himself. Ask the pupils to listen carefully as you read the story and see if they can spot which man knew most about himself. Tell the parable of the pharisee and tax collector (Luke 18:9-14). Ask a couple of pupils to come out and act out the parts as you tell the story.

4 When you have finished, ask the pupils which of the men knew most about himself. Why? Explain that it was the tax collector, because he knew he was sinful (briefly explain ‘sinful’ if necessary). But the pharisee couldn’t see his own faults. Jesus went on to say that it was the tax collector who would be forgiven because he wasn’t proud, but was honest about what he was like.

Application

A Christian viewpoint

The Easter festival is a special time for Christians to think about the wrong things they’ve done and to ask God to forgive them. Easter is when Christians remember that Jesus died as a punishment for the wrong things people have done. It’s a time to be honest about what we’re really like and to ask God to forgive us. The Bible says it’s important for Christians to be honest and admit to God the wrong things they’ve done, and not pretend that they’re perfect.

For everyone

Everyone does things wrong, but often we don’t want to admit it. We know other people do things wrong, but don’t want to see faults in ourselves. Sometimes we don’t seem to know ourselves very well.

Response

In a short time of quiet ask the children to think about things they’ve done which they know are wrong. You could play some quiet music at this point. Encourage the pupils to think if there’s anyone they need to be honest with or say sorry to: themselves, other people, or perhaps, God. Finish with this prayer, offering them the chance to opt out by not saying ‘Amen’ but sitting quietly and thinking about the issue.

Dear Lord, we know that often we do things wrong. Please help us to know when we’ve done wrong, and to be brave enough to say sorry. We want to say sorry now for times when we’ve done things which have upset other people and you. Please forgive us and help us not to do those things again. Amen.

The Body Quiz

  1. How many hearts have you got? (Answer:1)
  2. Name the five senses. (Answer: hearing, sight, smell, taste, touch)
  3. Which teeth are used to grind up food? (Answer: molars)
  4. What does the heart do? (Answer: pumps blood round the body)
  5. Why do we need bones? (Answer: to provide a rigid structure for our bodies and to enable us to move)
  6. Which is the longest bone in the human body? (Answer: the thigh bone)
  7. What does the blood travel round the body in? (Answer: blood vessels – arteries, capillaries and veins)
  8. What are the lungs used for? (Answer: to supply the body with oxygen and to expel carbon dioxide from the body)
  9. Where would you find the cochlea? (Answer: in the ear)
  10. What makes someone short-sighted? (Answer: the eye is too long from front to back, so that it doesn’t focus properly)

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.

An amazing gift from the King – Easter

Bible base:

Luke 23:1-25

Teaching objectives:

To show that the Bible says Jesus’ death was the punishment for other people’s guilt.

You will need:

  • A bottle of water, a jumper and a loaf of bread, individually wrapped as though they are presents. Do not try to disguise the shape of the items.
  • Prompt cards to show the assembly saying ‘Give us Barabbas!’, ‘Kill him!’ and ‘You’re free!’
  • Pictures Visual Aid Pictures photocopied onto card (or create your own images).

Introductory activity:

Show the assembly the three presents that you have wrapped up. Choose one pupil to come to the front to have a closer look but do not let them unwrap them.  Ask them to imagine the following situations: which present would they want most in each one?

  • You are really hungry
  • You are really thirsty
  • You are really cold

Unwrap the presents to discover if the pupil made the right choice. Ask the pupil to sit down again.

Today’s story is about a man who received an amazing gift, which was the thing he wanted more than anything else. Unlike the presents we have here, it was not something that could be wrapped up. The man’s name was Barabbas.

The Bible doesn’t tell us an awful lot about Barabbas, but what we do know is that he started a riot and murdered someone. And he doesn’t look very happy, because he was caught. He was found guilty and put in prison. Show picture 1a.

We can imagine Barabbas feeling very lonely, sitting in a prison cell on his own and feeling very sorry for himself. With no one else to talk to, perhaps Barabbas started to think about how stupid he had been. He knew that the punishment for his crime was the death penalty. Why had he done it?

Jesus was also in prison, because the people had accused him of causing trouble and saying things that weren’t true. But, unlike Barabbas, Jesus hadn’t done anything wrong. Show picture 1b

I wonder what Barabbas was thinking.

Perhaps as he thought about the punishment that was waiting for him, he realised that he deserved it. He knew that what he had been doing was wrong, and now he had been caught out, he knew that he deserved the punishment. Barabbas was miserable.

Ask the pupils what gift Barabbas would want more than anything else at this moment.

More than anything, Barabbas wanted to be free. One day, as Barabbas was sitting in his cell, he heard crowds outside the prison shouting something over and over again. What was it? He couldn’t make out the words at first, but as he listened, it seemed to get louder and louder, as though the people were getting closer. Eventually, he could hear what it was they were saying:

Hold up the prompt card ‘Give us Barabbas’ and encourage the assembly to shout it over and over.

Barabbas was going to be released! The people were calling for him!

But then, just as he was getting excited, he heard their shouts change to something much less pleasant:

Hold up the prompt card ‘Kill him!’ and encourage the assembly to shout it over and over.

Maybe it was not so good after all. Now it seemed as if the people were calling for his execution.

Barabbas was suddenly very scared. And he became more and more scared as he heard the heavy footsteps of the jailer coming along the corridor (you could add some atmosphere by walking heavily across the assembly hall). And then he could hear the rattle of the jailer’s keys and the locking and unlocking of doors. Barabbas had never been so scared in his life, as he realised that this could be the end.

Suddenly, the doors swung open and the jailer appeared in the door, and in his big, gruff voice he shouted:

Hold up the prompt card ‘You’re free!’ and encourage the assembly to shout it out.

Show picture 2a. Barabbas was amazed. What about what the crowds had been shouting? Surely they had been shouting ‘Kill him! Kill him!’?

The answer was that when the people were shouting ‘Kill him!’, they were not talking about Barabbas. They were talking about Jesus.

They had been given the choise of having Jesus or Barabbas released, and they chose Barabbas.

But there is a problem. Barabbas was ‘guilty’, and Jesus wasn’t, yet Barabbas was going to be set free and Jesus was going to be killed.

The Bible does not say why the people suddenly decided that they wanted Barabbas to be released and Jesus put to death. Maybe Jesus’ enemies had told the people untrue stories about Jesus, or maybe they claimed that Barabbas was innocent and shouldn’t be in prison.

It does not seem fair, but this means that Jesus took Barabbas’ guilt.

And then, when Barabbas was free, Jesus was killed on the cross.

The Bible says that when Jesus died on the cross, he was choosing to take the punishment for all the wrong things all of us have done, not just Barabbas. What an amazing gift! We are probably not murderers, like Barabbas was, but no one is perfect – no one except Jesus.

The Bible says that the punishment for sin is death, and that is why, if Jesus was going to take our punishment, he had to die.

Christians believe that Jesus wants to take the ‘guilty’ sign away for all of the wrong things any of us does or says or even thinks. Show picture 2b. Jesus can take away all the wrong things that we do, say and think, but he wasn’t guilty of doing anything wrong himself.

Optional prayer time:

Say thank you that Jesus came to earth to take the punishment for all of the wrong things in our lives. If you choose to, you could pray that we would think about whether or not we want to accept this gift.