In this story ten lepers were healed by Jesus, but only one comes back to express his gratitude. The emphasis of this story is not merely on gratitude as a virtue. Jesus gives us many good gifts, but God’s intention is that, as we encounter his loving kindness, it would ultimately bring us back to him so that we can totally be made whole.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.”
– Philippians 4:4 (ESV)
Supplies: a boomerang
Show the kids a boomerang and explain to them that it’s an Australian device that gets thrown into the air almost like a frisbee. It’s different to a frisbee though, because it’s designed to come back to you. When someone throws it, it turns and comes back to the person who threw it. Today’s story is about a man who was like this boomerang!
Tell the story from Luke 17:11-19.
Give a bit of background along the way. Help the kids understand that the ten men were outcasts because of their illness. How might that have felt? The man who came back to thank Jesus was a Samaritan. He was even more of an outcast because he wasn’t considered to be one of God’s people. When he came back to Jesus it showed that he trusted Jesus with his whole life, not just his physical healing.
IDEA 1: As a prop you could use a 10-man concertina cut-out. On one side you could give them sad faces and red dots. On the other side happy faces when they get healed. You could tear the last man off and bring him back to Jesus at that part of the story.
IDEA 2: Use the Beginner’s Bible or the felt-board (4-5 group).
IDEA 3: Consider using props that might relate to the story, like bandages or lotion and have the kids act out the story.
Sometimes we can be so thankful for the gift and forget the gift giver. Because this leper came back to give Jesus thanks, he was declared whole. Not only did he receive physical healing by going to the priest, but he also received spiritual healing by coming back to fall at Jesus’ feet. If we forget that every good gift comes from God we will be no better off spiritually. When we remember and acknowledge God as the gift giver, it will keep our hearts from drifting away from God.
Thank Jesus that he generously blesses us in so many ways. Pray that the children would have grateful hearts and that they would receive the ultimate gift of eternal life. Pray that they would be like the Samaritan man who came back to Jesus!
- How many lepers got healed in this story?
- How many came back to thank Jesus?
- What did that one healed man get when he came back to thank Jesus?
- Why is it so important for us to be grateful?
- How can we come to Jesus, like the man who was healed?
Supplies: Dry erase board, dry erase markers
Break the class up into teams (or during their small-group time) have each team write out a list of all the things that they are thankful to God for. Then sit them down in front of the dry erase board for a game of Pictionary. Collect the lists and have the teams compete in Pictionary using objects that you choose from the lists.
Image: Cathedral Fresco of Jesus healing the 10 lepers.