MEETING AIM: To think about how the man didn’t have to do anything special to be healed and how we can be grateful that God loves us all no matter what we’ve done
BIBLE PASSAGE: John 5:1-15
BACKGROUND: It’s likely in those days that some kind of bubbling spring fed the Pool of Bethesda but the people would have believed that an angel stirred the waters causing them to bubble. They would sit and wait in the hope that they’d be the first in to get healed. Jesus didn’t come just to heal ‘deserving’ people, the man didn’t do anything special and he also didn’t seem particularly grateful but Jesus came for all of us regardless of what we’ve done.
Invite the children to sit together in a circle. Encourage them to share stories from their week. Celebrate any birthdays, or special events. It can be helpful to have an object or cuddly toy which you pass around for the child talking to hold as they speak. Ask the children: “What one thing could you thank God for this week?” Thank God that he’s with you and ask him to help you learn more about him today.
You will need: strips of paper and pens or pieces of fabric and fabric pens
Explain that today you’re going to need a mat for the story. Depending on the age of your children invite them to weave a mat out of paper or decorate a piece of pre-cut fabric with fabric pens. If you’re weaving a mat, place five or six strips of paper next to each other vertically. Weave a different coloured strip horizontally over one vertical strip and under the next. Continue to do this with other strips of paper until you make a square mat.
You will need: antacid tablets (such as Alka-Seltzer); a clear bowl or jug; water; mats from ‘Intro activity’; play people (such as Playmobil)
Gather the children together and tell this story:
One day Jesus went to Jerusalem for a Sabbath day. That was the day when every- one rested, they did no work and focused on worshiping God. Just inside the city, near a place called Sheep Gate outside the Temple, was the pool of Bethesda. Use Alka-Seltzer tablets to make a bowl of water bubble as you explain what the pool was like.
A big crowd of poorly people – some were blind, some couldn’t walk, some couldn’t move at all – lay near the pool. They would wait near the pool because they believed it would bubble up and that the first person to go in would be healed. So they waited and waited and hoped they’d be able to get in first if the water bubbled up.
One of the men lying there had been sick for 38 years. That’s a really long time to have waited by a pool! Give each child a person and invite them to lie it down on their mat. Invite them to act out the next bit of the story as you tell it.
Jesus saw him and knew that he had been ill for a long time. He asked him: “Would you like to get well?”
“I can’t, sir” the sick man said, “because no one can put me in the pool when the water bubbles up. Other people always get there first.”
Jesus said: “Stand up. Pick up your mat and walk.”
Immediately, the man was healed! He didn’t have to get someone to put him
in special bubbling water, all it took was Jesus’ power and then the man rolled up his mat and he started walking! You could stop the story here if you’re doing a session with children under 3.
There were some strict Jewish leaders who didn’t like it when people broke the rules so when they saw that the man was carrying his mat they said: “You can’t work on the Sabbath. The law says you’re not allowed to carry a sleeping mat.”
The man told them: “The man who healed me told me: ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’’’
“Who would say such a thing?!” they demanded.
The man didn’t actually know because Jesus had disappeared into the crowd of people. Later on Jesus came back to find him and said: “You’re well again now. It’s time for you to start making good choices.” The man hadn’t been living a life following Jesus and probably made lots of bad choices. Jesus didn’t heal him because he’d done anything spectacular or good. Jesus chose to heal the man because he loved him. Just how he loves everyone.
Ask the children these questions, encouraging everyone to take turns in contributing:
- What was your favourite part of the story?
- How do you think you’d feel if you’d been sick for a long time and suddenly you were healed?
- Why do you think Jesus healed the man?
- What does this story tell you about Jesus?
You will need: biscuits; icing; jelly babies Invite the children to make their own man on a ‘biscuit mat’ and talk about the story as you decorate biscuits together. If you don’t give children biscuits or sweets in your sessions, then you could skip this and just do the prayer activity. Alternatively, you could make a man out of fruit (grape for a head, orange segment for a body and sticks of apple for arms and legs).
You will need: card; collage materials; glue; pens or pencils
Tell the children that God is so powerful and there are so many stories of Jesus performing amazing miracles in the Bible. You can pray and chat to God for people you know who are hurting or ill too.
Ask the children to think about someone they know who is ill or who is sad who they would love to pray for that they might get better and that they’d know how much God loves them.
Invite the children to make and decorate a card for that person. You might want to pre-write a verse from the story in the cards. Invite the children to pray for the people they made the card for and ask God to help them show that person love this week.
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