Social distancing has effected all of us, although we introverts probably not as much. The reason is simple, yet profound: Because God did not create us for isolation; He created is for relationship. Relationship with Him and with others. This is helpful to keep in mind as you prepare for this week’s session—one I which we are able to share with our kids in person.
At a Distance from the Savior
Maybe it is just the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon in action, but something jumped out at me as I read the passage for this week again:
As he entered a village, ten men with leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” (Luke 17:12-13 CSB, emphasis added)
Social distancing in action two thousand years ago. And for similar reasons: fear of contamination. Today the fear is over contamination by a virus that can be lethal for many, while back then the fear was over contamination by ceremonial impurity.
These ten men with leprosy knew the drill. Ever since they had contracted the dreaded disease these men had done the same thing any time another person approached: they gave plenty of distance.
Imagine with me for a moment, what it must have been like for these men the first time they heard of this man—a man named Jesus—who was said to be able to heal diseases. Imagine the hope that welled up in their souls. And then, imagine what it was like for them when they heard that this man was traveling in their area. Surely they dropped everything they might have been doing and ran to meet this man, from a distance of course.
They likely drew as close as they dared and then raised their voices, part excitement and part to be heard, asking for mercy.
Jesus heard them and He extended mercy to all ten, exhorting them to go show themselves to the priests. Interestingly, and importantly, the healing did not occur until they went—coming about out of their faith. In that moment, ten men were cleansed from leprosy, but one would experience an even greater renewal.
At the Feet of the Savior
Only one of the ten men, a Samaritan at that, returned to thank Jesus for the healing he had experienced. Notice, though, from where the man thanked Jesus:
He fell facedown at his feet, thanking him. And he was a Samaritan. (Luke 17:16 CSB, emphasis added)
“At his feet.” The man was held “at a distance” from Jesus no longer. Now, having been cleansed by Jesus, the man was able to draw close to the One who had extended such lavish mercy upon him.
What most people would have considered the greatest barrier of this man’s life—leprosy—was now gone. He could now walk near others. Shake hands. Hug his family. Kiss his wife, if he had one. The great barrier of social distancing was over for him. But as wonderful as that was, it was far from the greatest barrier that Jesus removed.
Thankful for a Savior
After Jesus asked about the other nine men and pointed out how the lone man to return was a Samaritan (a comment pointedly directed at the nationalistic pride of Israel in their belief that God wanted to save them alone), notice what Jesus told the man:
And he told him, “Get up and go on your way. Your faith has saved you.” (Luke 17:19 CSB, emphasis added)
Jesus changes the context from healing a disease to providing salvation from sin. Presumably, part of the Samaritan man giving glory to God (v. 15) was recognizing that Jesus is God—that which is necessary for salvation. The man’s barrier between other people was gone—and that was wonderful—but through Jesus, the man’s barrier between him and God was now gone too—and that was glorious.
In this, we see how the entire account pictures our salvation from sin. We too were like the men with leprosy—forced away from God because of our sin. But then, due to the mercy and kindness of Christ, we are able to draw near to God once again when we trust in Jesus. Jesus is the greatest healer ever, and He is even a greater savior. For this, we give great thanks. Jesus has closed an uncrossable, infinite distance.
*Devo from Pastor Brian, from The Gospel Project.
#JesusJams for today!
---> And here's this week's story!!
Christ Connection: Jesus healed the ten men who cried out to Him. The one who had faith was saved. When we trust in Jesus by faith, He heals us from something greater than a disease; He saves us from our sins. We can give Him thanks and worship Him for making us new.
If you have a bible at your house, you'll be turning to Luke 17: 11-17 to read with your family this week! If you don't have one, that's okay! CLICK HERE.
OPTION 1: Spot the difference Help the kids form pairs. Instruct each pair of kids to face and study each other. After a few moments, the kids will turn away from each other, and each kid will change one aspect of her appearance, such as untying a shoe, raising an eyebrow, removing glasses, and so forth. Then, the kids will turn to face each other again. The first kid in each pair who correctly identifies the change in her partner will move on to find another partner. The other kids will sit out. SAY •That was tricky! In our story today, we will learn about a group of ten men who seemed pretty similar. All of them were suffering with the same skin disease. When Jesus healed them, it changed their lives! One man had an even bigger change in his life besides just being healed.
OPTION 2: Get-well-soon cards Provide each kid with a sheet of heavyweight paper. Help the kids to fold the sheets in half to make cards. Instruct the kids to write kind messages inside the cards and draw pictures on the outside. You may choose to provide the kids with the names of people in your church who are sick, or you may encourage the kids to write the cards for someone else they know. SAY • Writing a sweet card to people who are sick can be a great way to lift their spirits and help them trust God to help in hard times. Today we will learn about something Jesus did to help ten sick men.
OPTION 3: Stuck on Jesus Provide each kid with a 2-by-4-inch piece of felt. Instruct the kids to draw a bandage shape and cut it out. Help the kids attach an adhesive magnet to the back of their bandages. Then, ask the kids to write Jesus heals on their bandages. SAY • Jesus healed ten men, and one was saved. When a person believes that Jesus died on the cross for her sin and rose from the dead, she is saved. When we are saved, God gives us the Holy Spirit to help us love and obey God. Over time, Jesus heals the damage sin causes in our lives. Although physical healing is a blessing, being saved from sin and healed of the damage it causes is the best thing we can receive from Jesus.
OPTION 4: First Aid Scramble