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Object Lesson: Jesus Eats With Sinners at Matthew’s House

In this object lesson, elementary-age kids perform a water experiment as they discover Jesus’ love for everyone.

Scripture: Matthew 9:9-13


  • clear cups (1 set of 6 for every 10 or fewer kids)
  • water
  • super-absorbent paper towels
  • red, yellow, and blue food coloring
  • spoons (1 for every 10 kids)
  • scissors

Easy Prep:

  • For each set of 6 clear cups, fill 5 of them about ¾ full of water.
  • Cut paper towels into ¼ sheets.
  • Test the experiment to make sure your paper towels are absorbent enough to work within the timeframe.

Object Lesson

In this object lesson, kids see how different colors of water can travel into one cup via paper towels.

Set Up the Experiment

Say: The Pharisees didn’t think Jesus should eat dinner with the tax collectors or other people they thought were bad, but Jesus came for everyone. Let me show you what I mean.

Have each group of 10 kids gather around their set of six cups. Have them arrange the five cups with water in a circle, and have them put the empty cup in the center of the circle. (They’ll want the cups close together as in the photo.)

Say: First of all, Jesus came for you. He loves you personally! One of the cups in your circle will represent you all. Have one child in each group add about four drops of red food coloring to one of the cups of water and stir it.

Repeat this process, making each cup of water represent a different group with a different color: friends (yellow), family (blue), people who have hurt us personally (orange, made by using some red and yellow), and people who have done some of the things we think are the worst things people could do (green, made by using some blue and yellow).

Watch the Water Move

Give each group five quarter-sheet paper towels. Have children in each group fold a paper towel into fourths the long way.

Say: Your center cup represents Jesus. He wants everyone to come to him: you (have groups place a folded paper towel in the red water and put the other end in the empty center cup), your friends (have groups repeat the last step with a folded paper towel in the yellow water and the empty center cup), your family (repeat with a folded paper towel the blue water and the empty cup), people who have hurt you (repeat with a folded paper towel in the orange water and empty cup), and even people who have done really bad things (repeat with a folded paper towel in the green water and empty cup). Jesus came for all these people.

Keep an eye on your cups as we talk.

Jesus Came for Everyone

Point to the red cup. Share a good quality about yourself, and then ask the children to share good qualities about themselves with their groups.

Point to the yellow cup. Share a couple of good qualities about one of your friends. Ask:

  • What are good qualities your friends have?

Point to the blue cup. Share a reason you love your family. Ask:

  • What are reasons you love your families?

Point to the orange cup. Briefly share a way someone has hurt you (without giving a name). Ask:

  • I’m sure you can think of a time you felt hurt, too. Let’s pause and think about that now. Pause for a few moments.

Point to the green cup. Ask:

  • What are some of the worst things that people do? If children have trouble thinking of ideas, you might ask what kinds of things people go to prison for.

By this time, you’ll see the water traveling into the center cup from all the other cups of water.


  • In this experiment, all the water was “equal.” Does that seem fair to you, knowing the different kinds of people represented? Explain.

Say: Just as you can come to Jesus, all the other people can come to Jesus. Matthew and his friends could come to Jesus even though some people didn’t think they were good enough. That’s because Jesus came for everyone.

This object lesson comes from Group’s Sciency-Fun WOWS!: 54 Surprising Bible Object Lessons (ages 8-12). In this book, you’ll find 54 biblical object lessons from the popular DIG IN Sunday school curriculum. And it’s available for kids ages 3-7, too! For even more ideas, check out these posts.

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Object Lesson: Jesus Eats With Sinner...

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