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Paul and Silas in Prison
After hearing the scripture the students will do three activities to help make the point that Jesus saves us from the PENALTY of SIN, they are: Sin Is A Chain-Prison (rope trick), Sin You Can't Get Rid Of (paper snowball toss), and Jesus Saves Us From Sin (and newspaper balls).
- To show the students how easy it is to be saved.
- To demonstrate how sin can trap us as if we were in prison.
- To show us what "being saved" looks like.
- To remind the students that God forgives ALL of our sins.
- A piece of string for each student, approximately 20" long.
- A stack of several newspapers.
- A blanket or sheet of paper to form a wall between two chairs.
- Hand wipes
- Practice the “Prisoner’s Escape” activity with the string. You will need to do this with another person. Doing this will make it easier to demonstrate to the class how to get away from their partner when they are tied up.
- Have a trashbag filled with extra balls of newspaper all wadded up for the two games.
Welcome the students when they arrive and explain how today's lesson will unfold.
- Ask the class what it means to be "saved."
- How does someone go about being saved?
- Do you consider yourself "saved"?
Tell the class that today’s story is about Paul and Silas and the answer that they gave someone when they were asked "how a person is saved."
Dear God, thank you for sending Jesus as our savior so that we can have eternal life. And all God’s children said: AMEN.
Read the Story and Ask Questions:
The story for today is from Acts 16:11-40. If there are students who are comfortable reading aloud, assign them some verses.
Read: Verses 11-18.
Ask: “Why do you think Paul commanded the spirit to leave the slave girl?” (Answers will vary.)
Read: Verses 19-24.
Ask: Why were the owners of the slave girl upset with Paul and Silas? (Because the slave girl would no longer be able to predict the future and the owners hope of making money was gone.)
Read: Verses 25-28.
Ask: Why do you think the prisoners did not try to escape? (Answers will vary.)
Read: Verses 29-34.
Ask: What did Paul and Silas tell the jailer he had to do to be saved? (Believe in the lord.)
Read: Verses 35-40.
Ask: Why was Paul angry when the jailer told him that he and Silas were being released? (He was upset at how he and Silas had been treated. He wanted the magistrates to acknowledge their unfair treatment by coming to the jail and escorting him and Silas out.)
First Activity: Sin is a Chain, a Prison
See the video (below) for how the string is tied and the secret for how to escape!
Tell the students that Paul and Silas were most likely chained up while they were in prison. This was commonly done in underground jails to secure the prisoners. Tell the class that today they are going to be “chained.”
Have the shepherd help you tie a piece of string around the wrists of one person; loop another piece of string over that person’s string and tie it to another person’s wrists. They should now be locked together. The goal of these two persons is to get away without breaking the string or untying the knot. The solution is to push the center of one string through the loop on the inside of the other person’s wrist, bring this new loop back over his or her hand, and draw it back through the wrist loop.
Talk about Paul and Silas being in prison.
- How do you think they felt?
- How would you feel if you were in prison?
- Would you feel trapped?
- How is SIN like a prison or chain that makes us prisoners?
Tell the students that a person who sins can feel trapped by the guilt and shame they have for committing the sin. And just like the bars of a prison cell keep the prisoners from reaching the people on the outside, the “bars” of sin can keep up from reaching God.
2nd Activity: Sin You Can't Get Rid Of
Tie a string between two chairs and tape paper or lay a blanket over it to make a wall across the classroom. (You will use this wall in both the 2nd and 3rd activities.)
Split the class in two and have them stand on either side of the blanket.
Give each team a stack of newspaper, and give them a minute or two to "ball up" as many newspaper snowballs as they can (20 on each side will do nicely). On "GO" each team tries to clear their side of all the newspaper balls by throwing them over the blanket. (Obviously, the point is that the other team keeps throwing them back!)
The first time you play the game, stop it after about 1 minute. Then make this point:
I want you to imagine that the newspaper balls represent "sin" we are trying to get rid of, trying to escape.
Play the game again, only this time, put most of the players on one team and yell "go!" The smaller team will be overwhelmed and beaten.
Ask: What POINT do you think this game just made about "sin" ?
Possible answers: Sin is an overwhelming problem! There's more sin and sinners tossing it back at you than you can handle.
Ask: What did this game just teach you about YOU and SIN? What help do you need?
(Sin is a trap, it will overwhelm us. It will beat us, unless we have help.)
Activity Three: Jesus Saves Us From Sin (and newspaper balls)
Ask: What must I do to be saved? --and have your students look up the answer in Acts 16:31 “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and your household.”
(You might also note that many Christians understand "being saved" as something we are already given, and simply need to accept. We're like the thankful leper who acknowledges what Christ has done for us. Jesus wants us to ask him to be our Savior, and the answer is yes before we even utter his name.)
Set up the Newspaper Tossing Game again with everyone against ONE player, ...only this time, tell the students that "DURING THE GAME JESUS IS GOING TO SAVE THE PLAYER."
And add this rule: every time the single player is 'hit' by a sin-newspaper-ball, they must bend down and slow down as if they are freezing (being imprisoned). After a few hits, they should be frozen on the floor.
Bring out your extra bag of newspaper balls for the kids to throw at the one player. The point is to overwhelm that player.
Prior to playing, designate someone to play Jesus. This may be a teaching assistant or older student. Give them the nametag, "Jesus."
Give Jesus these instructions: "When I nod to you, walk over to the single player and kneel down with them. Shield them from the newspaper balls as best you can, and toss a few back as you are able. When the hail of newspaper balls stops, put a blanket over their shoulders to UNFREEZE them, then stand them up and lead them away from the sin, kicking away any sin newspaper balls in your way."
Shout "Go" ! Very quickly, the one player will be overwhelmed, frozen and sunken to the floor. Wait for a few moments, then nod to Jesus.
Following this demonstration, debrief the students as to what they just saw.
Ask them "how did Jesus save the person from sin?"
Did the sins go away? (Not really. They and we still sin when we're saved. We ask for Jesus' help to resist sin, and be forgiven. What Jesus saves us from is the penalty from all our sins. Jesus does not let our sins keep us from his love and guidance. We are not forgotten or abandoned. )
What effect did the sins have on the player? (Sin beats us down, destroys us, freezes us so that we aren't free.)
What did Jesus do about the sin? (Jesus sheltered them and lead them away. As you describe this, act it out. Re-enact what Jesus did by comforting someone and kicking away newspaper balls.)
Jesus saves us from the PENALTY of SIN. which is separation from God now, and when we die. Sin tries to kill our spirit, freeze our compassion, imprison our hearts. Takes away our Hope, rob us of our Joy, and destroy peaceful relationships.
To say "Jesus saves" is to say, Jesus is our shield and strength, and our hope for new life, and eternal life with him.
TIP: Have hand wipes ready to remove newsprint from player hands before moving on. You can also point out that sin leaves a STAIN ! And can ruin everything we touch. Jesus is our handy-wipe too.
Finally, ask each student eye-ball-to-eye-ball, "Have you thanked Jesus for saving you? ...for being your protector and guide?
Have the students write the memory verse in their journal or on a piece of newspaper to fold and stick in their pocket as a reminder.
Dear God, help us to share the story of Jesus with others so they might know him and love him as we do. And all God’s children said: AMEN.
- https://www.rotation.org/forum...-and-silas-in-prison (The Ideas & Lesson Exchange-Main Categories; Paul and Silas)
- Sunday School Curriculum Bible Basis by Pastor Dean E. Larson
- Cub Scout Leader How To Book published by Boys Scouts of America 1999 (revised). ISBN: 0-8395-3832-4
Lesson prepared by Rick from: Augustana Lutheran Church
St. James, MN
Subsequent improvements and additions were discussed and added
by several members of the Rotation Community.