Rotation.org Writing Team
Jesus Heals the Ten Lepers
Summary of Activities
- Students will see and discuss an animated version of the story.
- They will discuss the issues of "grace & gratitude" in the story. Then they will watch a second-different version of the animated story video set to Chris Tomlin's "Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone)."
- Lastly, they will take part in a "chain and key" demonstration (the key image takes its cue from the story and song.)
Scripture for the Lesson
See the Bible Background at rotation.org for this set's complete list of objectives. See also the brief explanation of Grace, Justification and Sanctification at the end of this lesson.
Preparation and Materials
- Read the Bible Background and scripture.
- Preview and prepare your viewing equipment to show the two YouTube videos. (Read this article if you need help connecting to YouTube in your classroom or need to download the video files and bring them in for playback on your TV.)
- A lock with a key.
- A four foot length of chain (see demonstration notes for chain size considerations).
- Duct tape.
Welcome students, explain how today's lesson will unfold, then begin with this warm-up demonstration and introduction:
Invite a student to come forward and show how easy it is to pick up a pencil with their hand. Now wrap their hand and fingers with duct tape and ask them to try and pick up the pencil again.
Telling your students about leprosy:
In today's story, Jesus heals ten people who had a disease called "leprosy." Leprosy is a bacteria that causes an infection. Mild leprosy can leave you with scars and bumps. Moderate leprosy can eat away your skin, make you blind, and make your fingers and toes become crippled, and even fall off. Imagine living like that! Severe leprosy can eventually kill the leper.
Today, leprosy bacteria still exists in some poor regions of the world. Over 600,000 people live with it. We have medicines that can get rid of leprosy or reduce its damage. We also have medicines and plastic surgery to help restore lepers to a better life.
People in ancient times were not so lucky. Not only was leprosy more common, it was greatly feared because it spread by human contact. If you caught leprosy, you were usually taken away from your family to go live outside of town with other lepers. Sometimes leprosy infections would go away on their own, and in other cases, they could get worse.
To make matters worse, in ancient times people started to believe that somehow the leper or their family must have committed terrible sins to deserve such a punishment. According to the Old Testament, only PRIESTS could declare a person "clean" or "unclean" from leprosy. And when it did sometimes clear up, it was considered a miracle from God, an act of forgiveness, ...and you could go back home to live with your family.
With that in mind, let's see the story of Jesus and the Ten Lepers...
Video Bible Study
Show "The Thankful Leper" a free YouTube video from Saddleback Kids ministry.
Questions to ask:
Did Jesus require anything of the lepers before healing them?
Why do you suppose Jesus told them to "go see the priests"? (Priests were the ones who had the authority to pronounce them officially clean and release them to their families. It's very possible Jesus used the miracle to send a message to the priests!)
All ten were healed, but only one returned with gratitude and praise? Why did they? Why didn't the other nine? (There could be several answers. We know the thankful leper realized that Jesus was his savior and said it out loud. His healing opened his faith-eyes. This tells us that blessings happen all the time, but not everybody realizes those blessings come from God.)
If you had been on that road going to the priests, and suddenly realized YOUR leprosy was healed, what would you say to the others to convince them to go back to praise Jesus?
What do you think the grateful leper did AFTER he departed from Jesus' presence?
(What do you think Jesus wanted him to do? What does gratitude and faith lead you to do?)
Say: We don't know what happened after the end of the story. Did the nine come back? Did they eventually believe? What did the priests think when they saw the nine were healed? Did they have questions about Jesus? And what did the thankful leper do with his life after having his life saved by Jesus?
Ask: How do you imagine the story might have ended?
Lead this Discussion about Jesus' Amazing Grace:
At the end of this Q & A, you'll show a video that reinforces the grace in the story.
Say and Ask:
Jesus' healing of the Ten Lepers is an example of God's amazing grace. "Grace" is a word we use a lot in the church. What does it mean?
Grace is something God gives us that we did not earn and do not deserve.
Life is grace. Forgiveness is grace. Jesus is grace. Heaven is grace.
Grace is like receiving an "A" in class when you deserved to flunk.
Grace is like doing something wrong, being caught, but not being punished.
Grace is forgiving someone who has wronged you.
Grace is "unearned."
Say: All ten received the "grace" of God. The Bible says everyone receives the "grace" of God. ("For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people." Titus 2:11. "From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace." John 1:16.)
Ask: Do you think Jesus was MAD at the nine lepers, and maybe "took back" his grace from them? (No. Jesus says the nine were healed, he just wanted to know why they were not grateful. Grace can get disappointed for sure, but Grace is patient and loving. Remember the story of the Prodigal Son where the father waited and watched for the son to come home. Paul says God will not be done until every knee bows and tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord.)
Show this special version of the Ten Lepers Video set to Chris Tomlin's song, "Amazing Grace (My Chains are Broken)"
This video mash-up of the animation with the song was created by Neil MacQueen for the Writing Team. It makes a strong and memorable connection between the story and Jesus' amazing grace.
YouTube link: https://youtu.be/dktZJee_2BU
Lyrics from the song:
My chains are gone, I've been set free
My God my Savior has ransomed me.
And like a flood, his mercy reigns, unending love, amazing grace.
(For the full song set to images, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbe7OruLk8I)
Afterwards, ask them if they recognized the song "Amazing Grace" and tell them that this was a "new version" created by Christian songwriter, Chris Tomlin. In some churches and homes, his name will ring a bell. If you have time, read the first verse or two of Amazing Grace (the hymn).
A Chain and Lock Life Application Demonstration
"Chains" are a powerful visual representation of both the lyric from the song and Christian symbolism. In this demonstration, we'll use real chains to illustrate our need for grace, and the power of gratitude.
1. Invite a student to come forward and be chained up with the chain and tape. First, wrap the tape around both wrists, making a criss-cross between their hands so they can't slip out of the tape. Now wrap the chain around the criss-cross between their hands and wrap the ends of the chain tightly around their waist. If you have a bunch of escape artists in your class, take a second length of chain and wrap it around their waist and legs to make it harder to wriggle out of.
LOCK the chain with a KEY LOCK and dramatically toss the key in a place where the chained person cannot reach.
2. Now give them 30 seconds to get out of the chains. (Any longer and they just might!)
4. Ask the students what the chains represent to Christians. (You've already mentioned some of this, so this is a refresher: sin, doing wrong, a life not lived free and full the way God wants us to live. Slave to sin, slave to selfishness, weighed down, held back, hurting, lack of joy, lack of ability to praise, disease, disability, people's expectations, feeling judged. It's a metaphor so let it roll!)
5. Now invite someone to "play" Jesus and have them stand before the chained person.
Ask the class to consider the Ten Lepers story and ask, "what the chained person needs to do to be healed and set free." (They did yell out, but they didn't know Jesus, and didn't express faith in him or praise him. Yet Jesus still acted, and not with them standing right in front of him. Grace is not conditional, it is unconditional. Grace is something we discover, just like the lepers discovered they were healed.)
6. Point out that only Jesus can reach the key (Salvation) and invite Jesus to go get the key and release the chained student.
7. Once unchained, ask Jesus what he/she wants the unchained student to do now. That is, "what kind of response does Jesus want?" (They learned it from the story!)
Option: You'll undoubtedly have another student who wants to be chained up. Pick one that's not likely to wriggle out. Run through the whole demonstration a second time. Repetition is "the key" to remembering everything.
Where do we go from here? Living a Grateful Life
Write these on the board or copy to a handout. Assign them to students to come up with specific examples of...
- A way you can act in church that shows you are a grateful leper!
- Something you can say to a friend to tell them how much Jesus means to you.
- A thank you for God's grace that you can say to Jesus in your prayers.
- Something you can do to reach out to people who feel like lepers, –are sick, or feel left out and alone.
- Something you can do to heal a relationship that is hurting.
A Chain Gift (Optional)
If time and materials allow, give every student a small length of chain to remind them of the grace Jesus showed to the lepers, and to us. Tell them to carry it as a reminder of the gratitude we need to return for Jesus' Amazing Grace.
For Younger Students: The chain metaphor is probably too much for young children (K's-1st). Instead, act out the "Living a Grateful Life" statements.
If short on time: Save the chain demonstration for another time, and focus your reflection on coming up with "ways to show gratitude to Jesus" that aren't simply a list of "politeness tips."
The Christian doctrine of Salvation has two important parts to it: "Justification" and "Sanctification." We are justified, "forgiven," "made right," "healed," "made well" with God through Jesus' sacrifice. It is the unearned, unconditional gift of grace. Our response to God's justification (saving) is called "sanctification." Sanctification is the process of discovering our salvation, becoming grateful, learning to be faithful, and letting our lives become transformed into a new creation in Christ.
The story of the Ten Lepers illustrates this classic doctrine of Salvation. Ten were saved (healed, made well), but only one returned to praise and thank Jesus. Jesus does not "un-heal" the other nine. Instead, he confirms they were healed, but wonders why they did not return to him. He loves them no less. Like the father in the story of the Prodigal Son, Jesus looks for their return. Like the shepherd in the story of the Lost Sheep, Jesus will not give up on them. The Apostle Paul admonishes us not to judge others for their lack of faith (and indeed, we have little of it ourselves according to Jesus!), because in the end, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.” (Romans 14) Some like to call this "cheap" grace, but as the story illustrates, the only thing that's "cheap" is our ungrateful response to God's grace. Faith is our response to God's saving grace, not it's pre-condition.
Written by the Rotation.org Writing Team
Copyright 2017, Rotation.org Inc.
Copyright notice: The second video that combines the animation and song is permissible "fair use" under U.S. copyright law as a "transformative" work."