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Bible passage: Mark 2:13-17
Background: This session continues the theme of ‘Who is Jesus?’. Jesus called unlikely people to follow him. He came for all people, much to the Pharisees’ disgust! This session focuses on Mark 2:17: “Jesus said to them: ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’” Jesus came for all people, and he intentionally sought out the ‘sick’. He went to their houses, he ate with them and he made it clear that God’s love and amazing rescue plan was for them.
Invite the children to sit together in a circle. Encourage them to share stories from their week. Celebrate any birthdays or special events. It may be helpful to have an object or cuddly toy to pass around for the child who is talking to hold when they speak. Ask the children: “What makes you feel most loved?” Thank God that he is with you, and ask him to help you learn more about him today.
You will need: medical supplies§ eg a toy doctor’s kit, bandages, plasters or empty medicine bottles
Ask the children who might use these things. Often we go to the doctor’s surgery, but it used to be that a doctor would visit someone in their house when they were sick. That’s similar to what Jesus did when he was on earth. He went to see people who were hurting or had problems in their lives. Explain that we’ll be hearing more about that in our story today. Let the children play ‘doctors’ with the supplies.
You will need: coins
Gather the children together and explain that you’re going to pretend to be Jesus. Ask them to stand around you and pretend to be the crowd trying to hear what Jesus is saying. When you’re ready, tell this story:
Wherever Jesus went, big crowds of people would often follow him. One day, he went out beside a lake and a large crowd of people came to him. He started to tell them all about God’s love and his big rescue plan for them.
Jesus looked over and saw a man named Levi sitting down. Levi was a tax collector. This meant that he collected money from people. Often he asked for a lot of money; people didn’t really like tax collectors. Count the money together and get the children to pull angry faces.
They probably thought tax collectors were people who didn’t always tell the truth and cared about money more than about them. No one would have expected Jesus to talk to a tax collector. But Jesus looked at Levi and said: “Follow me.” Levi got up and followed Jesus. Pick someone to be Levi, take their hand and walk to another part of the room. Invite all the other children to follow.
Jesus went to have dinner at Levi’s house. There were many other tax collectors there, and people who would have been called ‘sinners’ because of the wrong things they had done in their lives. Jesus’ disciples were there too, along with some of the people who had followed Jesus to hear him talk. I bet it was really crowded!
The Pharisees saw Jesus eating with all these people. Pick some children to act as Pharisees. Tell them to look cross and shake their heads. The Pharisees were people who taught all about religion. They thought they knew everything about God and they didn’t like the idea that Jesus wanted everyone to know him. They thought that people who did bad things weren’t allowed to follow God. When they saw Jesus, they asked his friends: “Why does Jesus eat with all these greedy, dishonest people who do wrong things?” They didn’t think Jesus should be eating with them.
Jesus heard them and said: “It is not healthy people who need to see a doctor but people who are sick. I haven’t come only to call people who do all the right things. I’ve come for those who do wrong and those who don’t know God. I’ve come for everyone.”
Jesus came for everyone! Everyone gets sick, and we all need a doctor. Just as doctors used to go and visit people in their homes, Jesus went to the homes of people who needed him.
Ask the children these questions, encouraging everyone to take turns to contribute (use your object or cuddly toy if you passed one around earlier):
- What was your favourite part of the story?
- How do you think Levi must have felt when Jesus called him?
- What would it have been like to meet Jesus?
- What would you talk to Jesus about?
You will need: bubbles
Jesus came for everyone. He came for you and me. God’s big rescue plan was that Jesus would come so we could be forgiven for all the things we do wrong. Encourage the children to think of something they would like to say sorry to God for.
Invite them to talk to God about that thing as you blow the bubbles. In the same way that these bubbles pop and are gone, when we say sorry to God the bad things we have done are gone. He forgives us, and we can connect with him and forget about those things.
You will need: a map of your local area; a globe or map of the world; plasters
Remind the children that Jesus didn’t wait for people to come to him so he could tell them about God. He walked around and visited their houses. He went and talked to lots of people. Because Jesus came for us, we can share him with other people.
Show the group the map or globe and encourage the children to choose any country they like. They should think about the people there and ask God to help them meet Jesus. As you pray for different places, stick a plaster on them. At the end, look together at how many places you have prayed over. Thank Jesus that he came for all people.
Finish by praying: “Jesus, thank you that you came to forgive us for the things we have done wrong. Thank you that we can share your love with other people.”
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