Living Your Best Life (Jesus Heals a Man with Leprosy)
Themes: Acceptance; compassion; caring for all; the life of Jesus.
Summary: The source for this well-known Bible story is three of the gospels: Matthew 8: 1 - 4, Mark 1: 40 - 45, and Luke 5: 12 - 15. According to the gospels a man with leprosy knelt before Jesus saying 'Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.' Jesus replied 'I am willing, be clean' and instantly the man was cured of leprosy. Jesus went on to direct him to not tell anyone what had happened but to go to the temple and offer a gift. According to two of the gospels the man ignored this guidance and instead told everyone of the miracle.
The story of 'Jesus Heals a Man with Leprosy' is retold - with a twist.
Benjamin lives in the Galilean village of Capernaum and has leprosy. He is also appearing on the reality TV make-over show called 'Living Your Best Life'. Benjamin learns from the presenter - Joanna, the Make-Over Queen - that Jesus is due to visit Capernaum the following day. Benjamin duly kneels before Jesus asking to be cured. Later, joined by Joanna once more, Benjamin describes how his life has changed. But what has made the greatest impression on him is the compassion and acceptance of Jesus.
Duration: 4' 51"
Last words: 'I am so happy to see you Living Your Best Life.'
- What is the name of the village where Benjamin lives? (Capernaum)
- In what three ways do the local people reject Benjamin when he is ill? (They won't eat with him / they won't allow him in the synagogue / they expel him from the town)
- What does Benjamin ask Jesus to do for him? (Make him clean again)
- How does Ben say he felt when Jesus touched him? (That Jesus didn't care about his disease and that it made him 'feel' again)
1. Entry music
Play suitable music as the children enter. A possible suggestion is 'Everyone Belongs'
Today we're thinking about acceptance. Can anybody tell me what the word means? (Gather responses.) How can we show people that they are loved and accepted? (Gather responses.) It's really easy to show people that you welcome them and accept them when they are like you. This doesn't necessarily mean that they look like you - although they might - but that they may be similar to you in personality. Perhaps they enjoy the same sports as you, or like the same subjects at school. Perhaps they enjoy playing the same games at break, or maybe they just enjoy talking about the same things as you. What is more challenging is how we can make people feel accepted when they are completely different to us - and when we may not understand them very well. We're going to watch a short video now about a man who did not feel at all accepted. In fact, nearly everyone he had known had turned their back on him. He had a disease called leprosy and people were scared to go near him, even though they couldn’t catch the disease in that way. It's based on a well-known story from the Bible.
3. The video
Play the video. The duration is 4' 51" and the final words are: ' ... to see you Living Your Best Life.'
4. After the video
Discuss the following:
- Why had all the people turned their backs on Benjamin? (Possible answers might include 'they were scared', 'they didn’t want to stand out from the crowd' or 'he looked different to them.')
- Why do you think Benjamin's real friends felt they needed to help him in secret?
- Who was the only person that properly stood up for Benjamin and showed him compassion?
- How people were scared of Benjamin being different and they didn’t know how to act around him.
Explain that no matter how different we think we are, there is always at least one thing that we can find in common if we try.
Think about the game (called 'Guess Who') in which you have to eliminate people by choosing things they all have in common about their appearance. Get some ideas of what that could be. But what if we could speak to them? We might be able to find out even more. Ask everyone to stand up (or put their hand up) if the statements you say apply to them:
Stand up if you like chocolate; If you enjoy playing football; If you like reading; If you like painting; If you have a brother; A sister; etc.
Explain that even if we can’t see it, we all have differences and similarities and these need to be embraced and, when we can, we need to show compassion for those who are being left out.
5. Opportunity to sing
Suggestions for possible songs below.
6. Opportunity to reflect
Close your eyes...
And think of someone you know who might be feeling left out at the moment.
Or someone that you don't really speak to - perhaps because they seem different to you.
Can you think of a way that you can make that person feel more accepted..?
Perhaps here in school. Or at home. Or somewhere else..?
7. Opportunity for prayer
Use your usual form of address ('Dear God', 'Lord', 'Close your eyes and reflect' etc) and:
Thank you for all that I have.
Thank you for my friends and family and for my health.
Help me to open my eyes and see other people around me and to feel compassion for them.
Help me to accept everyone, no matter how different they might be.
Play the music again and ask everyone to think about how we can celebrate the differences we all have.
Other suitable songs
Difference Make Us Unique - Sing Together
When I Needed a Neighbour - Come and Praise