MEETING AIM: To begin to understand what Jesus means when he calls himself the light of the world.
BIBLE PASSAGE: John 9
BACKGROUND: The fourth of our series on the people Jesus met in the Gospel of John focuses on a blind man whom Jesus heals. Like the story of the man by the pool (from session three), his healing takes place on the Sabbath. However, when the
Pharisees confront Jesus about work on the Sabbath this time, he uses the idea of physical and spiritual blindness. The uneducated man who was blind can see the truth about Jesus; the Pharisees (who should know better) are blind to him.
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: lots of different lights such as spotlights, torches, battery-operated tea lights or desk lamps
Darken your meeting space if possible and experiment with the different lights you have brought. Which light up the room the best? Which ones are the most atmospheric? Which do the children prefer?
Introduce the idea that the Bible sometimes calls Jesus ‘light of the world’. Indeed, Jesus calls himself this in John 8 and 9. What do the children think this means? Make sure that the children stay safe as they experiment. Discourage them from shining their lights into people’s eyes (or their own)!
You will need: sunglasses with very dark lenses
Gather the children and ask for volunteers to play the different parts in the story: the man who was blind, his parents, Jesus, the disciples, the Pharisees. (If your group is small, you can miss out the parents and the disciples; if your group is larger, then have as many disciples and Pharisees as you want!) Tell this story:
One Sabbath (that’s the holy day of the week when people weren’t meant to do any work), Jesus and his friends met a blind man. Give the child being the blind man a pair of sunglasses to wear. Jesus told his friends that this man was going to show how amazing God is. “I am the light of the world,” Jesus said.
Jesus spat on the ground, made some mud and rubbed it on the man’s eyes. Jesus can mime doing this. “Go and wash your face in the Pool of Siloam,” Jesus told the man. He did, and could see! Remove the sunglasses from the blind man.
People couldn’t believe that this was the man who was blind. The disciples should look confused. But the man told everyone that he was! The man who was blind should tell everyone who he is. They took him to the Pharisees – the religious leaders – who questioned him. Take the man to the Pharisees. They were angry that Jesus had healed the man on God’s special day, the Sabbath. They called the man’s parents to confirm that he was blind, but could now see. Bring in the parents, if you have them. They said: “Ask him, he can speak for himself,” because they were scared of the Pharisees.
The Pharisees asked the man again what had happened. The Pharisees should look angry. Then they got angry with him, and the man was surprised. “If this man were not from God, he could do nothing,” he told them. The Pharisees were so angry, they threw the man out. They do so, gently!
Jesus went to find the man. The man was so happy that he worshiped Jesus. The man does so. “I have come so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” Some Pharisees heard him and were angry: “Are we blind too?” Put sunglasses on the Pharisees to show they are ‘blind’.
Use these questions to continue chatting about the Bible story and what it says about God and our relationship with him:
- What do you think Jesus means when he says he is the light of the world?
- If you were one of the disciples, what would you think?
- What does this story tell you about Jesus?
- What does it mean to be blind, but not physically blind? Why did Jesus call the Pharisees blind?
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: battery-operated tea lights or candles
Place the candles and tea lights around the room and switch them on. Darken your space if you can and ask the children to gather around the candles in smaller groups (or have one each if your group is small). Encourage the children to use the lights as a focus as they chat with God about what he has been saying to them today. Challenge the children to tell God what they think; they should be honest!
After a moment, gather the candles and children together in one place. Thank Jesus for being the light of the world. As you all stand together, pray that God would help you understand that more this week.
For the rest of this month’s sessions go to youthandchildrens.work/together.
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