Most folks have heard of the term “Good Samaritan”, but it’s probably fair to say that many people don’t know exactly where it actually comes from. I was blessed to serve in children’s church today, and our lesson came from Luke 10:25-37. The verse (from the NIV) says,
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
I thought about how to bring the lesson home to the children, and really wanted them to be able to connect to the story in a real and tangible way. The children in my group are in the 1st – 4th grade, so I didn’t want to just have them color a picture or something like that. They’re old enough to understand what it means to be a Good Samaritan, and to practice loving their neighbor in the way Jesus calls us to do.
How to Teach the Story of the Good Samaritan
- Read Luke 10:25-37 to the children. Stop as you’re reading and ask the children if there’s a time when they or someone in their family has been a Good Samaritan.
- Make a list of all the ways that the children can be Good Samaritans. Let them know that even though they are kids and may not be able to go up to a stranger and help them, they can call their parent to help, or flag down a police officer.
- Ask the children who are some neighbors that they can help out.
- Talk to the children about how they can be good Samaritans even if they don’t have money, or if they’re too little to do much. I shared with them how speaking kindly to someone, and even just saying hello and looking them in the eyes could make a difference in their lives that they have no idea about.
- Since we live in an area with a high rate of tent cities, we decided to write notes on water bottles that we could take to our neighbors who live under the freeway. The children brainstormed a list of encouraging phrases and wrote them on name tags that we stuck on water bottles.
- After we finished the activity, the children decided they’d like to make snack bags, too. We’ll work on that during another class.
- At the end of the class, go over the verse again. Remind the children that they are to love their neighbor as they love themselves. I actually showed them what that would look like by using the example of being at a party and the host saying that they are cutting the cake. I jumped up, knocked my chair over and ran over to a table as if I was trying to be first in line. I showed them that instead, I should check in with them, “Would you like to get some cake? Can I bring some to you?”. That example, along with the activity, really drove the verse home for the children.