The story is told in the Gospels of Jesus curing the withered hand of an unfortunate man on the Sabbath. Jesus healed many people during his ministry. His kindness toward all of God's people is shown in the many stories of his love and compassion. Jesus healed lepers, ate in the home of Mary and Martha, raised Lazarus from the dead, and changed the life of Zacchaeus. However, the healing of the man with the paralyzed hand is an act that angered religious leaders of the day, specifically because Jesus was healing on the Sabbath, a day of rest.
Why was this such a problem? Today healing is done routinely every day of the week. Did Jesus merely set aside the laws of the Sabbath for more humanitarian purposes?
This story goes straight to the authority of Jesus and his acting in the name of God. Jesus' healing the paralyzed man on the Sabbath did not mean that we ignore the laws of God just because this seems to be the right thing to do. Jesus healed the man's withered hand because God has concern and compassion for God's children at all times. God has shown through Jesus that God's love and compassion for God's children is more important than rituals, even those commanded by God. The old way of doing things was altered to show kindness to one of God's people who greatly needed it. Jesus showed us tht God's compassion come first.
Can we do less as Christian's than to follow Jesus' example and show kindness to any of God's people when they need it? Should it matter when they might need our kindness or help? Children naturally reach out to others. Their hearts are easily touched by persons in need. Too often we, as adults, stifle their compassion with our more jaded, pessimistic and suspicious outlook on society.
Encourage the children to be kind to others. Encourage them to be kind to one another as well. It is more important to be kind than it is to observe all the correct rules of the church.
So this Sunday in Bible school, the children will have the stage set with one of the biggest conflicts Jesus had with the religious authorities. The Pharisees were a group of religious men who interpreted the Scriptures for the people. Their interpretations soon became a fairly rigit set of laws that people felt obligated to follow, even at the cost of being kind. Jesus knew that God wanted persons to maintain the spirit of the law, not the letter of the law, particularly when the letter of the law caused pain or suffering on the part of another human being. Your children will hear how Jesus deliverately challenged the sabbath laws in order to help a man who had been disabled for most of his life. Jesus' action now made it possible for the man to be a "whole" person in the biblical definition.
Bible Verse: The scripture says, "It is kindness that I want" Matthew 12:7, Good News Bible
Bible Story: Matthew 12:9-14; Mark 3:1-6; Luke 6:6-11
What make a person generous? What is the true measure of a gift? These are questions that can be addressed by looking at the story of the widow's coins.
Outside of the temple were thirteen receptacles to receive the gifts of the worshipers. There would be a loud clanging noise when the coins dropped. Jesus, one day, had been sitting watching people drop coins into these receptacles. He would have had to hear all the noise these contributions made. When the poor widow arrived and put her two copper coins into one of the receptacles it would have been easy to "hear" that her contribution was very small.
The two copper coins were the smallest of the denominations of coins. They had very little value. And yet the widow gave with her heart all that she had. These coins probably represented her next meal. The rich who had been dropping coins into the receptacles were giving out of their abundance. They could still afford large meals, lavish homes, and richly designed clothes. The widow would have none of these things, even if she kept her money. But the widow gave to God even that which she needed, while the rich gave of their extra.
Jesus did not condemn the gift of the weath, of the extra. What Jesus did ws to commend the extreme generosity of heart that caused the widow to give all she had to God. This generosity demonstrates a truly selfless way of living for us.
No gift of love is too small to count, and sharing what we have and who we are with complete unselfishness does not go unnoticed by God. Even the smallest gift can be the most generous gift. It depends upon the heart.
Children are natural givers. They give, without the expectation of anything in return. They give for the sheer joy of giving and making someone's day a little brighter. They can anticipate the enjoyment of the person who will receive their gifts. Commend these acts of generosity when you see them. Encourage these in the children.
Bible Verse: For God loves a cheerful giver 2 Corinthians 9:7
Bible Story: Mark 12:41-44; Luke 21:1-4