Use this free Sunday school lesson with kids from Hands-On Worship to teach kids that Jesus heals and that, most importantly, he is their friend. Find more great Sunday school lessons to help kids grow in their faith.
Whatever hardships life had dealt the paralyzed man, it’s clear that he was blessed with faithful friends. When those friends heard that Jesus was in town, they immediately brought the paralyzed man to see Jesus. Even throngs of people couldn’t keep them from laying their friend at Jesus’ feet. Believing that Jesus could heal their friend, the men tore away part of a roof so they could lower the man to Jesus. With love and compassion, Jesus forgave the man’s sins and healed him completely. What an amazing picture of friendship, devotion, and love we see here!
For the kids at your church, friendships are a major part of everyday life. Kids crave a friend who’ll listen, laugh, encourage, and play with them. They want friendships that are lasting, faithful, and fun. Unfortunately, faithful friends can be hard to find. We’ve all heard, “I’ll be your best friend if…” or “You’re not my friend anymore because…”
What a joy and comfort to realize that Jesus is our forever friend! Jesus doesn’t put boundaries or conditions on our relationship with him. He’s faithful, loving, and caring. This lesson will help children discover that their dearest friend is Jesus.
Bible Point: Jesus is our friend.
Scripture: Men bring their friend to Jesus for healing. (Luke 5:17-26)
Bible Verse: “Now you are my friends” (John 15:15).
- markers (1 per Crew)
- index cards (1 per Crew)
- offering basket
- pretzels (1 per person, plus extra)
- bowls (1 per Crew)
Gather in Crews. If you have more than four children, form Crews of two or more children. Keep the Crews as consistent as possible week to week. Designate an older child as the Crew Leader in each Crew. Relationships will strengthen as the Crew Leaders get to know their Crew members, everyone will learn names, and all children will be able to share in discussion times.
Get ready for God Sightings. Each week, children will report their God Sightings to their Crew. Each Crew Leader will write the God Sightings on an index card and tape the card to the “God Sightings” poster. As the weeks progress, you may need to add another sheet of poster board to hold more God Sightings cards.
Create the environment. For the Bible Experience, place pretzels in a bowl for each Crew.
- large towels (1 per Crew)
Did you know…
In Bible times, people used the roof of the house for more than keeping out the rain. During the summer, families might sleep on the roof to take advantage of the cool night air. They dried grain and fruit on the roof, stored tools there, and even went up on the roof to pray. In Deuteronomy 22:8, God told his people to make a low wall around the roof so people wouldn’t fall off!
1. Crowded Room
Gather everyone around you, and open up the Bible to Luke 5:17-26. Say: Let’s learn more about the men who brought their friend to Jesus for healing. Motion around you. Let’s pretend that this was the room where Jesus was. This place was packed with people who’d come to hear Jesus teach and to see if he’d perform a miracle or two, maybe heal somebody.
It was so packed that…well, I’ll show you. Everyone stand up. Pause. Now put your hands down at your sides and scoot toward the middle of the room until you’re shoulder to shoulder with someone. Pause. Now those of you in the center stand firm and everybody else scoot up until your tummy is almost touching the back of the person in front of you. Pause. Now that’s crowded! The place was so crowded because everyone wanted to see Jesus. Go ahead and “un-crowd” while I tell you the rest of the story. Pause.
Well, there were these guys who had a buddy. The buddy was on a sort of stretcher, a mat. That’s because he couldn’t walk. I don’t know what had happened to the guy, but he wasn’t getting better. He was paralyzed—that means he couldn’t move at all. The man needed friends to help him.
2. Paralyzed Pretzel-Eaters
Say: Here’s what that’s like. Hand a bowl of pretzels to each Crew Leader.
Crew Leaders, pass around the pretzels until each person has one. Pause, taking a pretzel yourself. Okay, now everyone hold on to one pretzel in one hand and stretch out that arm. Pretend that arm’s paralyzed. It can’t move at all. So you can’t bend your elbow, but you really want to eat the pretzel. Demonstrate how you have to keep your arm stiff and straight because you can’t bend the elbow. You can’t bring the pretzel to your mouth.
- Discuss with your Crew how you might be able to eat the pretzel when your arm can’t bend.
Allow the Crews to try to figure it out. If they don’t get it after one minute, say: Remember, you have your friends to help you! If Crews still don’t get it, go over to a person and feed your pretzel to him or her. Then it’ll catch on that Crew members must feed each other the pretzels. Their stiff arms will be able to reach a friend’s mouth, and vice versa. Tell kids they can move their arms normally now.
Say: Wow! We needed our friends so we could eat the pretzels. The Bible tells us that the paralyzed man needed his friends to bring him to Jesus. They were good friends to take him to Jesus. Jesus is our friend! (“Awesome!”) He does amazing things.
3. On the Roof
Say: With so many people trying to see Jesus, there was no way the friends carrying a stretcher could make it through the door. They couldn’t even get close. But these guys were going to be sure their buddy saw Jesus—period.
Here’s what they did: They found the stairs up to the roof. And when they got up there they started digging—right through the roof! When the hole was big enough, the friends lowered the mat right down to where Jesus was standing.
Our Great Friends
Boy, those were some friends! They were even willing to get in trouble to make sure their buddy met Jesus. They took him to Jesus, and that’s great! Maybe you have some good friends, too. Maybe your friend got a brand new video game, and he loaned it to you even though he hadn’t played it yet. Or maybe you have a friend whose family went on vacation, and she could take a buddy with her to Disneyland—and she chose you!
- Tell your Crew a great thing some friend has done for you.
Allow two minutes for Crews to talk, and then ask several children to report back to everyone.
Jesus Heals and Forgives
Say: You’ve got some great friends! Well, when the men lowered their friend to Jesus (indicate a place on the floor just in front of you), Jesus saw how much faith the friends had. He knelt down (do this as you continue) and said to the paralyzed man, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”
That made the teachers of the law—they were in the audience right toward the front in the good seats—sit up and take notice. They said, “Hey, wait a minute. Only God can forgive sins. If Jesus is forgiving sins, then that means he thinks…he’s God or something!”
Jesus knew what they were thinking. Jesus said, “Which do you think is easier for me, to forgive this man’s sins or to heal him? Tell you what—I’ll do both so you know I am who I say I am.”
Jesus looked at the paralyzed man and said, “Get up, take up your mat, and go home.”
The paralyzed man lay there and he could…he could wiggle his toes! Have kids wiggle their toes with you. He could wiggle his fingers! Have kids wiggle their fingers. He sat up…his legs were working and his arms were working…and he stood up. Have kids stand up. His body worked perfectly! Have kids do five jumping jacks with you. The friends on the roof were probably celebrating! Do this: Give a high five to everyone in your Crew! Yeah! Jesus healed this guy! Pause as kids give high fives.
Now, the guy with the mat didn’t just go home—he went home jumping around and praising God and showing everyone how his feet worked. He was one happy, ex-paralyzed guy, I’ll tell you that.
Jesus was his friend BIG time! He forgave his sins and made him walk!
Jesus is Our Friend
- Tell your Crew about some of the ways Jesus is a friend to you.
- How can you be a friend to Jesus?
After a couple of minutes, ask several children to report back to everyone.
Say: That was great getting to know more about Jesus because Jesus is our friend. (“Awesome!”) Let’s head into a prayer time to thank God that Jesus is our friend. (“Awesome!”)
4. Prayer Place
Say: Because Jesus is our friend (“Awesome!”) we’re never alone. We can do all kinds of things like love others and tell others about Jesus. Jesus is always with us, ready to help us. Talk about the following questions in your Crews. Share about each question for a minute, and then I’ll ask another question.
- Because Jesus is my friend (“Awesome!”), at home I can… Maybe you can be kind to your younger brother or maybe you can help your parents clean the house without them asking you to. Share for one minute, then I’ll ask another question. Allow time.
- Because Jesus is my friend (“Awesome!”), at school I can… Allow time.
- Because Jesus is my friend (“Awesome!”), in my neighborhood I can…Allow time.
- Because Jesus is my friend (“Awesome!”), at my church I can…Allow time.
Say: Let’s close by thanking God for Jesus’ friendship. During the prayer, you’ll have time to tell God where and how you’ll show Jesus’ love. Mention something you just talked about with your Crews. Pray: Dear God, thank you for giving us Jesus to be our friend. Help us show Jesus’ love at home, at school, in our neighborhood, at church, and everywhere. Please hear us. Pause and let kids take turns praying. Then close by saying: In Jesus’ name, amen.
Say: You’re God Sightings to me. Thanks for your prayers, singing, and laughter throughout the day. Keep watching for more God Sightings this week!
Give any other announcements, and then dismiss the children. Play the Hands-On Worship Sing & Play Music CD or DVD in the background as they leave.
Bonus Idea: Mat Races
Give each Crew a large towel.
Say: The Bible tells us about the men who brought their friend to Jesus for healing. The poor guy couldn’t walk, so the men carried him on a mat. Let’s celebrate these guys’ awesome friendship by having mat races!
Have each Crew gather around a towel. Say: Choose the smallest Crew member to sit on the mat. When I shout “go,” everyone else will pull your Crew’s “mat” to the opposite wall and back. So Crews don’t get too “overzealous,” have them walk heel-to-toe so the friend doesn’t fly off the mat!
Play several rounds, letting other children ride as well as pull. For extra fun, have Crews pull their Crew Leaders.
Change the course: Instead of wall to wall, race around the room.
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