Lesson: Jesus Visits Martha and Mary

This lesson is the fifth and last lesson in a series of five that explore the theme “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” through Bible stories that each involve the sharing of a meal.  I apologize that pregnancy and medical concerns have prevented me from posting this last lesson in the series until now.  I appreciate your understanding, prayers, and support.

This lesson would work for Sunday School or Children’s Church.  The introduction and baby picture activities may be used as children’s sermon illustrations for this Bible story.  Estimated length is 45-60 minutes.

By contributing writer, Nicole VanderMeulen, Children’s Ministry Coordinator at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church in Renton, Washington.

Learning Objectives:

Children will experience the story of Martha and Mary hosting Jesus and consider what place and priority Jesus should have in our lives and the interruptions and distractions that often get in the way.

Target Age Group: Children age 5-12 years

Bible Story: Luke 10:38-42 Jesus Visits Martha and Mary

Explanation: The big idea is that when we gather together around food and drink, Jesus is with us too, and this unites and strengthens our Christian community.  For churches that regularly observe the sacrament of Holy Communion, each of these Bible stories and lessons can be connected to the story of The Last Supper and the belief that Jesus told us to eat bread and drink wine together and remember him.  Jesus invites everyone to his table for forgiveness and renewal, especially those who are far from him or have forgotten his love, and his hope for us is that we would do the same for others.

In the story of Jesus visiting Martha and Mary, we are reminded that Jesus wants us to look to him before anything or anyone else, yet our lives are full of distractions that get in the way of making him our number one priority.  Gathering around the Communion table to remember Jesus is just one of many wonderful ways to return to him and our love and devotion for our God.

Items Needed:

  • Bible/Children’s Bible
  • Small Containers with Lids
  • Rocks or Marbles
  • Rice or Sand
  • Paper
  • Markers or Crayons

Introduction: Give the children a task, like coloring a picture, writing three sentences, or memorizing a Bible verse.  Although some of the children to complete their work, but continually distract and interrupt some of the other children.  End the activity and call the group together to discuss the situation.  Who finished their task?  Why or why not?  Are their times in our lives when things get in the way of doing something important?  What would Jesus say is the most important thing for us to do? Remind the children about this introduction activity later in the lesson after they have heard the Bible story and do some further discussion if time allows.

Story: Recruit a group of adults or older youth to perform a rendition of the following skit for the children.  It could also easily be modified into a simple puppet play.

Jesus is Coming to Dinner

Regular person: Hello. . .who is this? You’re kidding me! This must be a prank. You’re Jesus?! And you’re coming to dinner? Wow! I really need to clean up good! (Hangs up phone and frantically starts cooking and cleaning.)

Ding. Dong. (Door bell)

Person 1 at the door: Can you please help me? My car broke down. . .

Regular person: Sorry, Jesus is coming to dinner and I’m too busy to help you. (Closes door. Continues cooking and cleaning. Some people can do this with much humor. The funnier the better!)

Person 2 at the door: Hello, we are collecting donations for ______. . .

Regular person: Sorry, Jesus is coming to dinner, can’t you see I’m busy. (Closes door. Realizes there is nothing to cook for dinner. Really starts to panic. More humor.)

Person 3 at the door: Hi, I live next door and I was wondering if I could join you for some conversation. . .

Regular person: Come back tomorrow, I’m super busy. (Closes door. All out panic.)

(Quiet. Waiting.)

Regular person: Where is Jesus?

Ring. Ring. (telephone)

Regular person: Hello? Is this Jesus? Hey, I cooked and cleaned all day and you didn’t show up. Where were you?  What do you mean you came to me three times and I turned you away?  I did?

Discuss the skit with the group.  Share the Bible story of Jesus visiting Martha and Mary found in Luke 10:38-42.  The story could be read from a regular or children’s Bible.  Ask your students how the story of Martha and Mary was similar to what they saw in the skit.  Do the children think they would be more like Mary or Martha if Jesus came to their house?  Who would Jesus want us to be more like?   Explain what “Jesus” meant in the skit when he said, “I was already there three times.”

Activity: Provide each child with a small container with a lid, like a glass baby food jar or small plastic container.  Help each child to put three objects inside the container, like three rocks or three marbles.  Then, fill the remaining space in the container with something smaller, like sand or rice, and then put on the top.  Now, have the children empty the contents of their container into an extra bowl.  Ask them to put the sand or rice in first and then the larger three objects (marbles/rocks) and place the lid back on.  They won’t be able to do it!  Now try putting the larger three objects in first and then the smaller material again.  Everything should fit just fine!  Discuss how the three large objects are like God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.  If we put those things “first” in our life and then add everything else (family, toys, school, tv, sports, etc.) everything seems to fit a whole lot better than if we try to do it the other way around.  Ask the children if they have any idea about what they can do to try to put Jesus first in their life.

Art: Provide each child with a paper circle (or help them to make their own).  Work together to make a pie chart/illustration that shows how they spend their time.  For example, if most of their time is at school, color that in as the largest piece.  Use other colors and pieces to show how much time is spent on sleeping, eating, sports, homework, family, tv/video games, friends, etc.  Ask the children how the amount of time they spend focused on Jesus compares to the time they spend doing everything else.  Brainstorm some ideas about how to spend more time with God.  Make a list on the other side of the circle of the most important things in life.  Challenge the children to “put those things first” as much as possible.

Communion Connection: The bread and wine of communion represent the enormous gifts Jesus gave to us when he died on the cross.  Communion is also a time when we can give back or love and devotion to Jesus by remembering him.  He said, “Do this and remember me.”

Prayer: Consider using a “repeat after me prayer”.  Pause between every few words, allowing the children to echo what you have said.  Dear Jesus,/Thank you for/your endless love/even when/we seem to love/other things/more than you./Help us/to put you first./Amen.

Need More Ideas? Then browse our videos about children’s ministry or discover free Sunday School crafts online.


Comments

  1. Joan says

    Thank you for encouraging comment on your very well rounded lesson. I like the accountability aspect to is. The lesson contains lots of useful material for teaching children. Our church invites everyone who has accepted Jesus as Lord, repents of their sin, seeks forgiveness and a relationship with God to the communion table.

  2. Lisa says

    These comments on your lesson, in which the writer has decided he knows who God would or would not chose to break bread with was so disheartening. The lesson is lovely, and representative of Christ’s availability to all persons. Even Judas was invited to share the bread with Christ. I am not clear why the writer referenced a grand father, as he was not later referenced in the writers comments.

  3. Erich Aseltine says

    My grandfather was a Lutheran Missouri Synod Missionary to India, and later Pastor, by the name of Erich Knoernschild. Your explanation of the story of Mary and Martha in comparing it to Communion sounded so Lutheran to me reading it. I think you stretched it a bit to compare this dinner to the Sacrament of Holy Communion, though, your main idea:
    “…wants us to look to him before anything or anyone else, yet our lives are full of distractions that get in the way of making him our number one priority.”
    is good.
    Though I am not Lutheran the following statement:
    “Jesus invites everyone to his table for forgiveness and renewal, especially those who are far from him or have forgotten his love, and his hope for us is that we would do the same for others.”

    You could be ELCA based on that statement, a Missouri Synod, or Wisconsin Synod Lutheran would point out that your statement could contradict the idea of “Closed Communion.” They would state that a person practicing, an unrepentant sin, (ex. for ELCA a homosexual, that does not believe in the Real Presence of the LORD Jesus in Communion), should never take communion. If they did in would be in an unworthy manner. Though I am not Lutheran, I agree with these churches on the practicing sin aspect of Communion.

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