Grades 3-6 Lesson 8 for Sunday School:
Imitators of Christ – Perseverance
Teacher’s Notes: For many weeks, now, we’ve looked at what it means to call ourselves “Christians.” We are called to be Christ-like; and Jesus Christ, Himself, lived out many great examples for us while He walked on this earth. We began by looking at Jesus’ examples. Then, last week, we turned to examples in other Bible characters. This week, we will look at perseverance; and some faithful friends whose perseverance led to the salvation and healing of their paralyzed friend.
Remind the students that we are learning about what it means to be Christ-like. And that last week we talked about a healed leper with a thankful heart. Then ask the students if any of them made a list, this week, of things they remembered to thank God for. If anyone did, allow them to share their list with the class. Then perhaps take a moment to thank Him once again for those things your students listed.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve been studying what it means to be “Christians,” or imitators of Christ. In order to find out what Jesus is like, we’ve especially looked at specific examples from His life that have taught us how to use God’s Word as a sword; and to be compassionate, humble, submissive, and loving.
Then last week, instead of looking at examples from Jesus’ life, we began looking at a few other Bible characters who can also teach us to act as God wants us to. Remember this verse that I shared with you last week?: 1 Corinthians 10:11 says, “Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” In our lesson last week, we learned that only one of the men who was healed of leprosy came back to thank Jesus. He was a great example, to us, of how important it is to remember to be thankful to our Heavenly Father, and to tell Him just how thankful we are.
This week, we are going to learn about four friends who showed great perseverance. Does anyone know what the word “perseverance” means? “Perseverance” means we keep going, no matter how hard or how scary things get.
Here’s a suggested activity to introduce perseverance to the students: Bring in a collection of as many items you would like that the students can try to stack on top of each other. The more different kinds of shapes you have, the more perseverance will be required. Place the items in a pile in front of a volunteer, and ask them to stack as many of them as they can, on top of each other, with only the bottom item touching the surface they’re working on. Give them a limited amount of time, perhaps 3 minutes, to see how many they can keep stacked up. If the stack falls, encourage them to begin again, as long as they still have time remaining. When everyone has had an opportunity to try, ask them these questions:
Explain that this activity is a good example of perseverance…sticking with something, even when it gets hard.
Here’s another suggested activity: If you have at least 5 students - bring a sheet or blanket with you to class, and have your students take turns with 4 students holding the corners, and the 5th lying on the blanket. Have the 4 try to carry the student on the blanket around the room. Point out to them how difficult it is, especially if they have to go across uneven surfaces or around obstacles.
Let’s take a look at this week’s memory verse, to see what God has to say about persevering. Then we’ll look at an example from the Gospel of Mark.
Memory verse: (Have the children repeat this verse with you several times, until they are able to say it themselves. And encourage them to repeat it to others several times during the week, so that it’ll have a place in their hearts.)
“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Galatians 6:9
Opening prayer: Lord, thank You for each student who’s here, today. And thank You for Your Holy Bible, where we can read about people who are good examples for us to learn from. Please open our eyes, and ears, and hearts now to learn to persevere, especially when things get tough. Help us to remember that in Your time, we will see good results from sticking with the tasks You give us. Amen.
This Week’s Lesson: (perseverance that led to salvation!)
(Suggested Bible Reading): Mark 2:1-12 (you may read the entire passage now, or just refer back to it when suggested in the lesson)
1And again [Jesus] entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house.
2And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them.
3And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four.
4And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay.
5When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.
6But there was certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts,
7Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?
8And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts?
9Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk?
10But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,)
11I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.
12And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.
What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done? (Allow the students to share experiences they’ve had.) Was it something you had to do? Did you find it was harder than you expected it would be? And if it was, were you tempted to give up? What made you keep going? And how did you feel once you actually finished?
Today we’re going to be looking at 4 friends who had an exciting opportunity to help their friend. But the task they had chosen got much harder than they expected. Let’s take some time, now, to look at what they planned to do, and what happened when they met up with some unexpected challenges.
As our passage opens today, there is some exciting news in the town of Capernaum – Jesus is staying in a house, there. And although it was still very early in His ministry, Jesus had already healed many people. So when the news got out that Jesus was back in town, a huge crowd of people began to gather. In fact, there were so many people who wanted to see Jesus, that they couldn’t even fit everyone inside the house. Have any of you ever tried to get into a meeting or party, but it was so full that they wouldn’t or couldn’t let you in? That can be so discouraging, especially if you’ve come a long way, or really feel like you need to be there.
And that is exactly what happened to a group of men who came to see Jesus. You see, they had heard about how Jesus was able to heal all kinds of diseases and infirmities. And they happened to have a friend who was “sick of the palsy.” That means he was paralyzed. Now the Bible doesn’t tell us just how severe his paralysis was, but it does tell us that the four men had carried him there on some sort of bed. And back then, they probably did not have smooth roads or sidewalks like ours today. They path they took, carrying the paralyzed man on his bed, was likely to have been quite uneven. And with such great crowds pressing in to see Jesus, it would have been very hard for them to even get to the house where Jesus was. These friends must have really believed that Jesus was able to heal their friend!
So it would have required perseverance, on their part, just to get this man, on his bed, through the crowd and to the house. Have you ever been in a place that was so crowded that it was hard to get where you were trying to go? Imagine trying to move through such a crowd, while carrying a person on a bed. That must have been quite a feat! So imagine their huge disappointment when they finally got to the house only to find that, according to verse 2, “many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door…” They had made it so far, only to be told there was no more room to see Jesus. They couldn’t even get inside the door. What do you think you might have done if you were one of the four friends who had already done so much to bring their paralyzed friend here? Would you have concluded that there was nothing more you could do; that you had done your best, but might just as well head back home since you couldn’t even get inside the house? And how do you suppose their paralyzed friend reacted? Surely he was terribly disappointed…to come so close to being healed, only to be turned away. Do you suppose he thanked his friends for trying, but accepted the fact that they would not get in to see Jesus?
Let’s look back at our passage to see what they did. Listen to what verse 4 says: “And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay.” Not only did the friends not turn back toward home, they came up with a clever plan to get their friend right where he needed to be…next to Jesus. But how did they do it? First, we find the group has made their way up onto the roof. It would have been a little easier for them to do this than it would for many of us today. This house likely had stairs on the outside, leading up to the roof. But it certainly would have been very hard to get a man on his bed up those stairs. These men showed great perseverance, not letting a little crowd stop them. They took hold of their friend’s bed, and did what needed to be done in order for him to see Jesus. Once they lifted and pulled and pushed their friend up onto the roof, they encountered one more obstacle. They needed a way to get him down through the roof, into the room where Jesus was preaching to the crowd. Our verse says they uncovered the roof, and broke it up. In other words, they found a way to break a hole right in the roof, big enough to lower their friends bed through. What do you imagine the people down below were thinking, as little pieces of the roof began hitting them on the head? And what about the owner of the house? Do you think he was probably shouting at the men to stop destroying his home? Do you think he demanded that they fix the hole immediately?
Whatever the reactions may have been, the men were not discouraged. They kept right at their task of bringing their friend to Jesus. Wouldn’t it be great if each one of us had that much perseverance when it comes to bringing our friends to Jesus! They didn’t let the idea of a heavy load (carrying the man on his bed) stop them. They didn’t let a crushing crowd stop them. They didn’t let a set of stairs stop them. And they didn’t even let a barrier, like a roof, stop them. They wanted their friend to meet Jesus, face to face. And they didn’t let anything stop them. That is true perseverance!
And what was the result of such incredible perseverance? Let’s take a look at our passage, again, to see. Something very special happened to their paralyzed friend, because of their perseverance. What do you think Jesus said and did when He saw this man being lowered in front of Him? Jesus was in the middle of preaching to this crowd. And He could have seen this as a disturbing interruption. But instead of being angry or upset, He used the opportunity to teach the crowd something about Himself, as well as ministering to the paralyzed man. Listen to what verse 5 tells us: “When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.” Do you think this is what the paralyzed man or his friends expected Jesus to say? Do you think they might have been confused by Jesus’ words, since they had expected Jesus to heal him? Perhaps only Jesus truly understood that forgiving this man’s sins was far more important than healing his physical body. Jesus wanted the people to know that He could do far more than heal a broken body. He could heal a sinner’s soul. And since He could see the heart of the paralyzed man, and the hearts of his friends, He knew that they believed in Him. So he declared the man’s sins forgiven. How do you think the crowd reacted to Jesus’ statement? Do you think they might have been disappointed to hear these words, and not see a great outward miracle?
Our passage tells us that some of those in the crowd were more than disappointed. They were angry. Does anyone who was here last week remember the word “blasphemy?” It means saying or doing something dishonoring to God. There were some in the house who did not believe that Jesus was the Son of God. Verse 7 tells us that in their hearts, some of them asked, “who can forgive sins but God only?” These men were offended that Jesus claimed He could forgive sins, when only God can do that. But that was precisely Jesus’ point. He wanted them to understand that He really was God, in the flesh, right there living among them. And how do you think they felt when they realized that Jesus was actually listening to their thoughts? Do you think it made them think a little harder about who Jesus was claiming to be?
Jesus was, indeed, reading their thoughts, and wanted to be sure that there was no confusion. Verses 10 and 11 tell us what Jesus decided to do, to prove to their questioning hearts who He really was: “But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) ‘I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.’ These are probably the very words this man’s four friends had been waiting to hear. No doubt they were thrilled to hear that his sins had been forgiven. But now they could see, with their eyes, what Jesus was doing for this paralyzed man. Yes, their perseverance had certainly paid off. Jesus had forgiven the man’s sins, and now He was going to make their friend walk! And sure enough, that’s just what happened. Verse 12 says, “And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.” Did you notice all the wonderful things that happened as a result of the perseverance of these 4 men? The first, and perhaps best, thing that happened was their friend having his sins forgiven. Then, the result they’d been looking for, the man’s paralysis was taken away, and he was able to get up from his bed, and walk away. Then, there was one more great result. The people who were in the house, heard Jesus’ words, and saw the miracle gave glory to God for the incredible things they experienced. That is a great reminder to us, that when we follow through with what The Lord asks us to do, He can do great things in our lives…and He gets all the glory!
What a great encouragement that must have been for those four men, to be able to see the immediate fruit of all their work. But it doesn’t always work out that way. If we look back at today’s memory verse, we are reminded not to grow weary while doing what God asks of us. Sometimes we’ll see great results right away, like the men in today’s Scripture passage did. But Galatians 6:9 suggests that results won’t always happen so fast. In fact, the verse talks about sowing and reaping. A farmer plants his seeds in the ground, and hopes for a great harvest. But he doesn’t expect to reap that harvest right away. He has to wait for the sunshine and rain to help his crop to grow. And sometimes, there can be very discouraging conditions that threaten the farmer’s crop. Perhaps the crops get too much rain. Perhaps they don’t get enough. Sometimes there are even bugs that will come and eat the crop. But when conditions get tough, our verse reminds the farmer, and us, not to give up. It encourages us to persevere through the difficulties, because “in due season we shall reap if we don’t lose heart.” God will bring about the great harvest He has planned for our lives, in His own time (that’s what “in due season” means). But it requires us to not lose heart…to persevere. And when those discouragements do come, our Heavenly Father is always right there to help us through.
Closing Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for the example we’ve seen of perseverance. Help us, even this week, to be willing and able to persevere in whatever You give us to do, just as they did; and perhaps through that perseverance, have an opportunity to lead a friend to You. What a wonderful privilege that would be. And thank You, Lord, for giving us the strength we will need to keep on going, even if things get a little tough. Remind us to look to You for the help we might need, because we know You love us, and want us to succeed with a bountiful harvest that will bring glory to You. Amen.
Class Discussion/ Activity:
(Bible lesson Tic-Tac-Toe)
If you are familiar with the game Tic-Tac-Toe, you can use it to quiz your students on today’s lesson. Here’s how it can work. Divide the students into two teams. One team will be X’s, and the other O’s. Make a Tic-Tac-Toe board (draw it with chalk or even in the dirt if you have a dirt floor) with 9 spaces: three across, and three down. Number each of the spaces using the numbers from 1 to 9. The object of the game is to be the first team to get 3 of their marks (X’s or O’s) in a row on the board. Have the teams take turns earning the right to put their mark on by answering a question from today’s lesson (for example: how many men carried the paralyzed man to Jesus? What town was Jesus staying in?). If the team answers correctly, they can put their mark in a spot on the board. To keep the game simple, you can let them choose where to put it. To make it a little more challenging, you can make little numbers ahead of time, perhaps writing them on little pieces of paper, and have someone from the team draw one of the numbers to determine where the mark will go if they answer correctly. Then, the next team takes a turn and is given another question to answer. If you are using the numbers to determine where their marks go, they may pick a number the other team has already picked, and replace that mark with their own if they get the answer right. Have fun! And the game works best if you have the questions prepared ahead of time.
Here are some thoughts to consider this week:
Are any of you facing tasks this week that you know are going to be difficult?
Is there anything that you think might stop you from persevering, and finishing this task?
If you’re afraid you might not be able to keep going, what might you be able to do make sure you follow through, and finish the task you’ve been given? (Suggestions: pray – asking God to give you the strength; recall verses that encourage you with promises of help from The Lord; take time to read The Bible, allowing God to speak words of comfort and encouragement to your heart; talk to another Christian who can encourage you to persevere.)
And finally, remember that just because you are doing what God has asked of you doesn’t guarantee that it’ll be easy. In fact, when we are obeying God, that’s just when Satan likes to come along and cause problems…hoping to discourage us from following through. What a great victory it is when we can overcome those temptations from Satan to quit! He would like nothing better than to see us give up. But when we trust God to keep us going, we can defeat that old devil, and bring glory to our Heavenly Father.
Perseverance is the key,
Pressing forward, faithfully;
Even when the way gets tough,
Knowing Jesus is enough;
Overcoming doubt and fear,
Asking Jesus to draw near;
So we will not weary be
As we finish, victoriously.
Lisa DeVinney, March 2014