We live in a world that often tells us to look out for Number One and forget about everyone else. This is the opposite of what the Bible teaches and Jesus demonstrated. Jesus continuously helped those others didn’t want to help.
The objective of this lesson is to help children understand that God wants us to love all people, regardless of who they are. Teachers should use caution not to override the messages children also hear about being careful of strangers. There are many safe ways children can help other people without putting themselves in danger.
Today we’re going to read the most well-known story Jesus ever told—the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
Let’s say our memory verse together: Love your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27 NLT).
Tell children the Parable of the Good Samaritan:
The reason this story is so famous is that it tells about a man who wouldn’t have been liked by most of Jesus’ listeners. This hated man helped another man who had been robbed. Many of the Jewish people hated the Samaritans because they were a mixed race. They were part Jew and part Gentile. Many years before, some of God’s people had been taken captive by foreign invaders. These mean people left some of the poorest people in the land to tend the crops. Those left behind married some of the foreigners, causing their children to be of mixed race.
Samaria was one of the three areas the nation of Israel was divided into. The other two were Judea and Galilee. Samaria was in between these two regions, and the Jewish people hated the people who lived there. In fact, many Jews would intentionally bypass this region if they were traveling between Judea and Galilee. But not Jesus. On one occasion, he made a point to travel through this region just to prove to his disciples and others that he loved everyone—even the despised Samaritans.
Reflection: What are some reasons we might not like some people? What are some reasons others might not like us? Is there ever a good reason not to love someone? Why should we love others? Are there people at your school who don’t like you? What are some reasons why?
Before Jesus told the story, a religious man asked him what he had to do to go to heaven. Jesus answered his question with another question. He asked him what the Bible said. The man answered that a person should love God with all their heart and their neighbor as themselves. Then he asked Jesus who his neighbor was. Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan to answer his question.
A Jewish man who was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho was attacked by robbers. They stole his money, beat him, and left him for dead. The first person to come by was a priest—somewhat like a preacher. He was on his way to the Temple (the church of Jesus’ day). If he helped this man, it would make him unclean and he wouldn’t be able to perform his duties at God’s house. So he crossed to the other side of the road and ignored the hurt man.
The second person to see the man was a Temple assistant—somewhat like a deacon (someone who helps the preacher). He too was going to God’s house. If he helped the man, he would be considered unclean and wouldn’t be able to do his work at God’s house. He also crossed to the other side of the road and ignored the man.
The third person to come by was a hated Samaritan. Jesus knew it would make his listeners angry if he told them a Samaritan helped the poor man. When the Samaritan saw the man, he went over to him, put medicine and bandages on his wounds, put the man on his donkey, and took him to the nearest hotel. He gave the hotel manager enough money to care for the man until he returned from his trip. He promised to pay the difference if the bill was more than he had paid.
When Jesus finished the story, he asked the man who had approached him which person he thought was a good neighbor. The man hated to admit it, but he had to confess that it was the Samaritan. Jesus told him to go and do the same.
Reflection: Who do you think a neighbor is? What does Jesus teach in this story about loving our neighbors? What are some ways you can show your neighbor you love them? What should you do if the person you helped still doesn’t like you?
Game: True Servants
Have children sit in a circle. In the middle of the circle, set items such as a pencil, sheet of paper, string, a roll of tape, empty cup, towel, glass of water, and a piece of candy. Each child in the circle needs one item.
One at a time, have children pick one item and use it in some way to help someone else in the circle. Kids must pick an item that hasn’t been used. Make sure everyone is served once.
Give children a blank sheet of paper and let them draw and color a picture showing someone being a good neighbor.
Let each child tell one thing they learned from the story of the Good Samaritan.
Martin Wiles is an author, teacher, and freelance editor currently residing in Greenwood, South Carolina. He and his wife Michelle are founders and editors of Love Lines from God (www.lovelinesfromgod.com). Wiles has authored Grits & Grace & God and Grits, Gumbo, and Going to Church (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas), Morning By Morning,Morning Serenity, Grace Greater Than Sin (America Star Books), Authentic Christianity (Smashwords) and is a contributing author in Penned from the Heart (Son-Rise Publications), and Rise (Chaplain Publishing). He has served as Regional Correspondent and Sunday school lesson writer for the Baptist Courier and also written for LifeWay’s Bible Studies for Life curriculum. He has also been published in Open Windows, Proclaim, The Secret Place, Upper Room, Light from the Word, Reach Out Columbia, Mustard Seed Ministries, Journey Christian Newspaper,Common Ground Herald, The Quiet Hour, and Power for Living. He is a regular contributor to Christian Devotions, and PCC Daily Devotions, and is a regular contributor for the Dorchester County Eagle Record, the Orangeburg County Times and Democrat, and the Greenwood County Index Journal. Wiles also serves as the Managing Editor for Christian Devotions and as an assistant Editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolina. You can follow him @linesfromgod.