MEETING AIM: To discover that Jesus loves us and wants the best for us.
BIBLE PASSAGE: John 5:1-15
BACKGROUND: The man by the pool had been unable to walk properly for 38 years. There was a chance that he might be healed (there were beliefs implied in the text and in the now deleted verse 4 that this pool had healing properties when an angel stirred the waters), but it was never a chance he was able to take. Jesus knows this, but questions him nonetheless. “Do you want to be healed?” might seem a redundant question, but the man’s reply also seems vague, given that he’s talking to the Son of God! How can we help children answer positively to Jesus’ love and restoration?
Welcome the children by name and share out any refreshments you have brought. Ask the children about their week; share in their triumphs and commiserate with them about the things that haven’t gone according to plan. If appropriate, share something of what has been happening with you recently.
You will need: chairs
Set out your chairs in a circle, with one fewer than the number of players. Everyone sits down, with one player standing in the middle. They must go up to a person sitting down, look deep in their eyes and ask: “If you love me, smile!” The sitting player must answer without laughing: “Darling, I love you, but I just can’t smile!” If the player laughs, they switch places.
Play for as long as the group enjoy the game. Who is the best at not smiling? Who is the best at making others laugh? Explain that you’re going to hear a story about Jesus today; the children should look out for the question Jesus asks and for how Jesus loves the man.
You will need: play people (such as Lego or Playmobil); scraps of paper or felt to act as beds or mats; yogurt or margarine tub; water; Lego bricks and base (optional)
Fill the yogurt or margarine tub with water and lie your play people down around it, each one on a paper or felt mat. Reserve three or four people to be Jesus and the disciples. If you have time, you might want to construct the scene out of Lego, creating a space in which to drop the tub of water to create the pool of Bethesda.
Before you start, wonder with the children about what might happen. Who are the people around the pool and why might they be lying there? Go on to tell the story:
One day, Jesus and his disciples came to a place called Bethesda. Stand a play person next to the tub of water to represent Jesus, with a few others to be the disciples. This was a special pool in Jerusalem where people who weren’t well came to be healed. They believed that when the waters moved around, the first one into the pool would be made better. Stir the water with your finger and put a play figure into the water. Take them out, straighten them and stand them by the pool.
There was a man who had been unable to walk properly for 38 years. Jesus knew what was wrong and went up to him. Move your Jesus figure up to one of the ones lying down. “Do you want to be healed?” Jesus asked. Perhaps the man was surprised by the question – he couldn’t walk properly after all. “Every time the waters move, I try to get into the pool, but someone always gets there before me.” Ask the children what they think of the man’s answer. Then ask them what they think Jesus will do. Why do they think that?
“Get up, pick your bed and walk,” Jesus told the man. And that’s just what the man did! He stood up, took up his mat and walked away! Stand the play person up, pick up his mat and walk him away.
Use these questions to continue chatting about the Bible story and what it says about God and our relationship with him:
- How does Jesus show love to the man?
- If you were one of the other people sitting by the pool, what would you think?
- What does this story tell you about Jesus?
- Explain that, in verses 9 to 15, the religious leaders get angry because the man is carrying his mat on God’s special day, the Sabbath (read those verses to the children). What do the children think about that?
You will need: art materials; paper; reflective music and the means to play it (optional)
Show the children the art materials you have provided. Encourage them to create a picture which reflects what they have discovered today. Make sure you have enough time to do this; don’t rush this activity. It’s important to give the children some time to process what God is saying to them. Some children might create beautiful pictures and be able to explain what they mean, others may not. Nevertheless, both responses (and any in between) are valid; the purpose of this activity is not to create a beautiful picture but to give the children time and space to meet with God, listen to him and process what he is saying.
If any of the children would like to, give them space to tell you (and the group if they wish) about what they have drawn.
You will need: mats (such as small rugs, throws or samples of carpet); reflective music and the means to play it
Give each child a mat to sit on and invite them to find space on the floor where they won’t get distracted by anyone else. Ask them to think about something in their life that they’d like Jesus to fix or change. Play your reflective music and encourage the children to chat to Jesus about that thing. If the children struggle to think of what to pray, ask them to imagine Jesus is sitting next to them. What do they want to say to him?
For the rest of this month’s sessions go to youthandchildrens.work/together.
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