The Greatest Commandment
Summary of Lesson Activities:
The Bible story will be told with a short puppet skit. Students will develop and act out dramatic, modern-day skits on the story concepts.
Workshop Objectives – Children will learn
- Jesus summarized the Ten Commandments into two, which emphasize love: love God with all you’ve got (your heart, soul, strength, and mind) and love your neighbor as yourself.
- God wants us to serve him with EVERYTHING we have.
- That Jesus was often challenged by those who didn’t understand his ministry.
For scripture and Bible background material- see above.
- Read the scripture for this lesson.
- Read and reflect on the overview material provided for this lesson.
- Prepare an opening and/or closing prayer in case you need one.
- Gather the materials.
- Two handle-bag puppets (or whatever puppets you have available)
- Drama scenarios – make copies of scenarios for students to use. See attached PDF.
- Puppet script: “Rules of the House” by Louise Ferry (link in references below)
- Props: microphone, sports equipment, math book (optional).
Lesson Plan: Opening
Greet your students warmly, introducing yourself and any other adults.
Say: Let’s begin with prayer.
Ask for any prayer requests. Ask if anyone would like to lead the group in prayer. Be prepared to say a prayer yourself, working in prayer requests. A suggestion: “Lord, help us to always remember to love you, not half-heartedly but with all of our heart, and with all of our soul, and with all of our mind. Amen.
Dig-Main Content and Reflection
Say: To start off today, your Shepherd and I will do a little puppet show for you.
Do: Using the two handle-bag puppets, have the Shepherd help you perform “Rules of the House” by Louise Ferry, using the attached puppet script.
Ask: The puppets were talking about a Bible story from the New Testament. Has anyone ever heard that story? Tell me what you know about that Bible story.
Do: Have the kids tell you what they know about the story from Matthew 22:34-40. If they get the story details, skip to the section labeled “For all students.”
If they don’t seem to know the story very well (for example at the beginning of the month), follow the lesson below, depending on the age of the students.
For 3rd grade and up:
Do: Have kids find Matthew, chapter 22, verse 34 in the Bible. Have kids read verses 34-40 to themselves to pick up any story details they left out. Be sure they include:
- Pharisees testing or wanting to trick Jesus,
- Pharisees asking Jesus what’s the most important commandment, and
- Jesus’ reply.
For younger kids:
Do: Hold a Bible.
Say: This story is from the New Testament of the Bible. It is from the book of Matthew.
“Jesus was teaching the people. There were certain Jewish religious leaders called Pharisees, who were more concerned with their own laws than God’s laws. The Pharisees wanted to trick Jesus so they asked him what they thought would be a hard question. One of them asked: What is the most important law? Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. And love your neighbor as you love yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.”
For all students:
Say: So a Pharisee was questioning Jesus. He wanted to know what the most important commandment was. Remember how last month you learned about the Ten Commandments? Now Jesus has summed them all up into two commandments! The first one was: Love God with all you’ve got. The second one was: love your neighbor as you love yourself. We call these two commandments, which are both about love, the Greatest Commandment.
Ask: What do you suppose Jesus meant by “loving God with all your heart, soul and mind”? (allow a brief response; If anyone asks about the loving your neighbor part, briefly reply and say that will be discussed in other workshops.)
Say: For the rest of our time we’re going to explore this idea some more by using drama.
For 3rd grade and up:
Divide into a maximum of 5 groups as directed by scenarios. (There are scenarios where reluctant performers can be part of a “group” scene.) Ask the Shepherd to help you form groups. Give each group a printed scenario. Tell them they can act out their scenario in whatever way they want. (They don’t necessarily have to act out the “correct” response.)
Their skit should be short – no more than 3 minutes. They may use any props from the room. Have paper available if they want to write themselves a script.
Allow kids 8-10 minutes to develop and practice their skit. They can work in different parts of the room. (Give them a 2-minute warning before the time is up.) Direct the Shepherd to help you, by circulating among the groups to give any direction.
Be sure and allow enough time to watch the skits.
For younger kids:
Use the scenarios indicated as being appropriate for younger kids. You and the Shepherd will probably have to go to each group and read them their scenario. Tell them they can act out their scenario any way they want. You may need to narrate their skits (it they want you to do so.) They may use any props from the room if they want. You and the Shepherd should help any group that needs assistance.
You’ll have to judge how much time to allow kids to prepare their skits. Give them a 2-minute warning before their time is up.
For all students:
Watch each group perform their skit. After each skit, talk briefly about how it relates to loving God with all our heart, our soul, and our mind. Possibilities include:
- Loving God with all our heart is like our deep feelings—it’s easy to love Mom or Dad, it’s harder to love someone who isn’t being nice. We can think of loving them anyway because God loved us first.
- Loving God with all our soul is like our conscience—we know what we are supposed to do. (That doesn’t make it easy though.)
- Loving God with all our mind—is like our logical thoughts—we are told to love other people but it’s sometimes hard. With our mind (our brain) we can learn a Bible verse by heart; it can help us when we don’t know how to act.
- Loving God with heart, soul, and mind—loving God with all we’ve got, is like an athlete totally committed to winning a gold medal.
Say: God loves you. God wants you, (God wants all of us) to serve him with EVERYTHING we have. I hope some of the drama you have seen will help you think this week about loving God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.
Encourage everyone to come back next week for another workshop, and to invite friends to come too!
- http://puppetscripts.tripod.com/puppet139.htm for puppet script “Rules of the House” by Louise Ferry
- sundayschoolresources.com/bsawhatdoido (this link is now dead) – where drama scenarios were originally found. I modified these and made a separate list for younger students, simplifying the scenarios for them. I have 5 scenarios for older students and 5 for younger.
A lesson written by Carol Hulbert from First UMC, Ann Arbor, MI