Jesus helps his followers understand that the kingdom of God isn’t driven by religious ritual but rather by love. Sometimes we try to look for excuses to not love and care for others. God wants us to see that there are no limits to who should be our neighbor. Imagine a world in which everybody treated others in the way that they would want to be treated! This lesson is designed for elementary aged kids.
- Love your neighbor as you love yourself.
- God wants us to love all people.
“For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.””
– Galatians 5.14 (NIV)
If you’re doing this lesson as part of a series, then explain to the kids that each week you’re looking at a different parable that Jesus told. Explain that a parable is a story told to help people understand something about God’s kingdom.
You will need a candy bar for this. Say to the children: “Imagine you had a candy bar but you needed to go to the restroom. You asked me to look after it for you. You asked me not to eat it. But while you were away I put the candy bar in my mouth and chewed it and spat it out again.”
“How would you feel if you got back and you saw your candy bar all chewed up and spat out? What would you say to me? What if I then made all sorts of excuses and said to you that I didn’t eat it, I just chewed it? That would be really mean wouldn’t it? I knew that you wouldn’t want me to do that but I tried to find a way to do the wrong thing out of selfishness.”
Tell the kids that sometimes we try to make excuses for doing the wrong thing.
Prop suggestions: Bandages/some basic first aid supplies, small bottle of olive oil, small toy plastic donkey, some kind of scarf or sash to represent the priest, a badge or pin for the Levite.
Tell the kids that one day Jesus was talking to an expert in the religious law. This is a man who knew all the rules and studied God’s law carefully. He knew that the most important rule was to “love God and to love your neighbor as yourself”. This was a law that God had given many years before when Israel was in the wilderness with Moses as their leader (Deut. 6.4-5; Lev. 19.18). Explain what that means, referring back to the candy bar illustration (if I had thought about what I would feel like if somebody ruined my candy bar I might not do it to somebody else). The problem is that, just like I tried to make excuses for ruining your candy bar, the expert in the law also wanted to find excuses to not have to love other people. He only wanted to be kind to others when he felt like it! He thought that if he could consider some people his neighbor but not others, then he wouldn’t have to be loving and kind to those he didn’t want to!
Jesus then told the people this story to help them learn a lesson…
Act out the story of the Good Samaritan with the children playing the roles. You can give each of the kids a prop that represents that character in the story. Another option is to tell the story directly from Luke 10.30-37 and use the props to accentuate the significance of each of the characters.
Pray that the children will have the courage to love God and to love others as they love themselves!
- Why do you think the priest and the Levite decided to pass by instead of help the man?
- What did the Samaritan do to help the man?
- Are there people who you find it difficult to treat kindly?
- What does it mean to treat others as you would want to be treated?
Game (Band-Aid Relay)
Supplies: Lots of band-aids
Divide the class into teams. Each team will take turns for each player to run to the table, grab a bandaid, unwrap the bandaid and place it on the arm or leg of a volunteer and then run back to the team for the next player to do the same!