Saul did not like the Christians, just because they loved Jesus and believed that he was the Son of God. He tried his best to stop the Christians but God can change the life of the most hardened and broken heart. God has a purpose and plan for each person who places his/her faith in Jesus.
“Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”
– 2 Corinthians 5.17 (NLT)
As an object lesson consider bringing along a chocolate (heart-shaped would work well but not necessary), a hammer and a microwave oven. We want to emphasize God’s redemptive power by smashing a chocolate and then melting it again. Here’s a suggested outline.
Briefly where we’ve come from over the last few weeks to help the kids understand where this story fits in:
- Jesus ascended into heaven after he was raised to life.
- Just as he promised, the disciples received the gift of the Holy Spirit.
- A few miracles happened and many people started to believe in Jesus
- The church was growing rapidly, even though the Jewish leaders who crucified Jesus didn’t like it!
Object Lesson (Broken Heart)
Why did the religious leaders not like the Good News of Jesus? It’s because there was a problem that they thought they could fix and the Good News says that only Jesus can fix that problem. The problem is that sin breaks people’s hearts so that it’s difficult to love God – smash the chocolate with the hammer. The way that the religious leaders wanted to deal with it is they try to put the pieces together in their own strength – try to put the chocolate back together again.
Is it possible to fix this chocolate? God knew that we couldn’t do it on our own. We can try to fix the problem of sin ourselves but we need special strength to do it and that strength can only come from Jesus. The Priests and the Pharisees thought that we could beat sin by following special rules and rituals. Some of these Pharisees hated the Christians so much that they were even killing some of them. One of them was a man named Saul. It made him glad when the Christians were being killed!
Read Acts 8.3.
Wow, Saul was a mean guy. He was someone who thought we could fix our own hearts but do you think his heart was fixed or do you think his heart was broken? His heart must have been very broken to want to do the things that he was doing.
Put the broken chocolate into a bowl in the microwave oven and move onto the story.
Tell the story from Acts 9.1-22.
Isn’t it amazing that someone who hated Jesus’ followers so much was now telling other people about Jesus and loved his followers. He discovered that there is forgiveness and love in knowing Jesus and now he just wanted to be a friend of Jesus. God had taken his broken heart and turned it into something new!
Open the microwave oven and show them that the heart has been transformed into something new! You could bring out a bag of marshmallows and skewers for snack time. You can use the chocolate as motivation to memorize the memory verse or use the discussion questions with the older kids over snack time.
Pray with them
- Where was Saul on his way to?
- Who appeared to him on the road?
- What did Jesus say to him?
- How is it possible for someone as bad as Saul to be saved?
- Can you think of someone who might think less of you because you believe in Jesus?
- How should you treat someone like that?