The Parable of the Good Samaritan
Lesson Plan for Children Ages 4-12 years old
Goal: To teach children about Jesus’ concern for our health and how he showed love through acts of healing; To show them how we can express our love for others through concern for their health; To help them see "others" and "ourselves" as individuals, but also as participants in community; To teach children that our concerns can be a basis for taking responsible action.
Supplies needed: Children will be making hand puppets to tell the story of the "Good Samaritan."
You will need:
Considering the ages of the children in your class and the amount of class-time available, you may wish to cut the felt (fabric) into appropriately shaped pieces and sew button-eyes on the socks. It may be helpful to have a "sample" puppet prepared as an illustration.
All Teachers: As a group, identify some of the specific "health needs" of children in your community – needs not being met. Consider immunization problems, children who are not receiving care because their parents have no insurance, mothers who receive inadequate pre-natal care. Consider speaking with your community hospital, pediatricians, homeless shelters, schools, community health department. What "ministries" are churches in your community supporting to meet these needs? Is there a specific project your classes could support with time or money?
Part I (Opening) 5 minutes
Tell the children what is happening today at their church. The whole church is celebrating a Health Care Sabbath – a time for prayer, study, and action.
Explain to them that our country is in a dilemma about health care; many people cannot get the care they need. Children, especially, have been affected. One child in seven has no insurance; At least ten million children in our country live in families that may not be able to afford the medical care they need. What can we do to help? We ask ourselves, "what would Jesus want for us, what would he have us do?
To understand what Jesus wants us to do, we read the Bible. We read the stories about and the stories he told. We study what Jesus has said and try to understand what it means for us today. We ask God, through prayer, to help us find answers.
Part II (Prayer)
God, we know you love all your children. We feel your love, and we thank you for taking care of us. But, we know that some of your children are sick. Because we love you, we want to help you care for the sick children. How can we help? Please let the lessons we hear today help us discover ways we can bring healing to your sick children.
Part III (Activity)
Explain to the children that they are going to help you tell a story from the Bible. It is their task to make puppets to represent the characters in the story. These are six characters: the traveler (someone like you), the Priest (a preacher – Like Rev.___), the Levite (a church worker – like the teacher), the Samaritan (a stranger that frightens us), a robber (you may have several bandits), an innkeeper (clinic nurse) and perhaps a donkey. Make sure everyone identifies which puppet they are making. If you have a large class (and if time permits), the "extra" puppets may be used to tell the story a second time. You may wish to tell the story initially with the original characters, and second time using modern characters. Select the format (traditional or modern) that best suits the age-level you teach and your teaching style.
Part IV (Bible Lesson – Luke 25-37)
While your class is making puppets tell them about Luke and set the stage for the story.
The story they are about to enact came from the Gospel according to Luke. Do they know where to find "Luke" in the Bible? Many of the stories that appear in Luke are also told in the other Gospels, but this story is not. Luke seems particularly interested in Jesus’ concern for the oppressed, the poor and the sick. Tradition suggests that "Luke" may have been a physician.
Read Luke 25-29 or tell the story of the "lawyer’s" question. Your emphasis should be on the statement "YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF." and on the question "AND WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR?" (NRSV) Discuss the meaning of "Neighbor." It is easiest to "love" the people we already know and like. But, does Jesus want us to love people we don’t know, people who are different, people who need something? How does he want us to show our "love?"
The Puppet Show
Jesus answers the lawyer’s question with a story. Tell the story with the puppets. Choose a method that best suits the age-level of your class.
When the story was finished, Jesus asked "WHICH OF THESE THREE, DO YOU THINK, WAS A NEIGHBOR TO THE MAN WHO FELL INTO THE HANDS OF THE ROBBERS?" Ask your class to answer.
Tell them how the lawyer answered and Jesus responded: "HE SAID, ‘THE ONE WHO SHOWED HIM MERCY.’ JESUS SAID TO HIM, ‘GO AND DO LIKEWISE.’"
What does it mean to be a "good neighbor"?
The Priest and the Levite probably felt sorry for the injured man, but they did not help. Perhaps they prayed for him, but they didn’t touch him. They did nothing to make him better; they didn’t try to move him to safety. Only the foreigner helped the injured traveler – he alone was the "good neighbor."
Jesus tells us to "do likewise". Are their "injured strangers" that we have ignored? What can we do to help? Ask your class for their suggestions! Is there a "ministry" you can support?
Note: As children leave with their puppets, no "one" puppet can tell the story. It takes all the puppets, working together, in "community" to make the story come to life. We are like the puppets. Alone, our life is unfulfilled; but working with our "neighbors" our stories come to life. We are called to be part of God’s larger community.
[Resource from Interfaith Impact's Health Care Advocacy Kit, 1994]