Objectives: To remind children that God created and loves all people, regardless of the color of their skin, where they work, what country they live in, or how much money they have. Because God loves all people, he wants us to love everyone as well.
Jesus was a great preacher and teacher, but the primary way he did both was by telling stories. Telling stories is a good way to teach because we remember stories longer than we do other things.
Let’s say the following verse together, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31 NLT).
Jesus taught that the greatest commandment was for us to love him with all our heart, soul, and mind. The second was that we love others as we love ourselves. Ask children the following:
If I asked you to tell me what love is, what would you say?
Do we see a lot of love in our world or a lot of hate? (If needed, remind children about some wicked acts we hear and read about daily. Explain that these are evidences of people not loving others.)
How do we know God loves all people? (You might mention such things as his letting the sun and rain fall on all people, giving us family to care for us, giving us food to eat, giving us water to drink.)
Bible Story Time:
Tell Jesus’ story about the rich man and Lazarus the beggar.
Jesus told a story about a man who was very rich. He had the best clothes money could buy. If he lived today, we would say his clothes were the popular name brands everyone was wearing or at least wanted. Since he was rich, he could afford to buy the best. This man had everything else he wanted as well. Anything his heart desired, he could afford to buy. Anywhere he wanted to go, he could afford to go.
Reflection: How do you think you’d like to be able to buy anything you wanted?
But there’s another person in this story. His name was Lazarus, and he was a beggar. A poor person. This isn’t Jesus’ friend Lazarus whom he raised from the dead. And since this is a story, these two people probably aren’t even real but made up. Poor people in this time didn’t have government programs to help them as are present in many countries. They had to depend on other people…especially rich people.
But not everyone wanted to help them. Some people were selfish, and the rich man was. Rich people often used pieces of bread to wipe their mouths as we use napkins. After wiping their mouths, they would throw the bread on the ground. If animals didn’t eat the discarded bread, people like this poor beggar would.
Reflection: How do you think you might feel if you needed help but no one would help you?
Lazarus was not only a beggar, but he was also sick. Sores covered his body. He was so weak that he couldn’t even fend off the scavenger dogs who roamed the streets and licked his sores.
The rich man and Lazarus eventually died. They lived differently in life, and their eternities were different as well. The rich man went to hell, and the beggar went to heaven.
Reflection: Did the rich man go to hell because he was rich and Lazarus to heaven because he was poor? If not, why did they go to each place? (Make sure children understand that it’s not a sin to be rich, nor is there any virtue in being poor.)
The rich man could see Lazarus from hell. While he was being tormented in the fire, the beggar was being comforted by God. The rich man cried out, asking Lazarus to bring just a little bit of water to cool his tongue. But Lazarus couldn’t go. The decisions they made in life affected their eternity, and it was too late after death to change their mind.
Ask: What does this story teach us about loving others no matter who they are? What does it also teach us about our decision to follow Jesus?
Have children sit on the floor. Read aloud Luke 19:5-6.
Say: Zacchaeus had good manners. Who knows what manners are?
After children answer, say: Manners are how we treat each other. When we help people or when we’re kind, we have good manners. When we’re happy for people to come to our home, we have good manners. Or when we share with others, we have good manners. Zacchaeus had good manners because he was happy for Jesus to come to his home.
Say: Sometimes we call being nice to each other “using our manners.” When we share God’s love with other people we are kind and helpful.
Give each child a sheet of construction paper. Print the words, “My hands can help” at the top of each sheet. Have the children lay their hands on the paper and trace around them. Write each child’s name on his or her place mat.
Give children a blank sheet of paper and let them color the Rich Man and Lazarus.
Martin Wiles is an author, pastor, English teacher, and freelance editor who resides in Greenwood, South Carolina. He is the founder and editor of the internationally recognized website, Love Lines from God (www.lovelinesfromgod.com). Wiles is the Managing Editor for Christian Devotions and an Administrator/Editor for Vinewords.net. He has authored seven books. His most recent is Don’t Just Live…Really Live.He has also been published in numerous publications. He is the husband of one, the father of two, and the grandfather of six.