Fear Not! Jesus Protects and Transforms Us – Also known as the time Jesus Made Deviled Ham…
The story in this passage can be a fun, goofy, or challenging one to communicate to kids. How do we approach the topic of demons? What’s with the pigs? There are several elements that we can take from this encounter in Luke. We don’t want to ignore or avoid the spiritual forces present in the Bible, but it is important to let students know that Jesus is bigger than all of our fears. We can trust in Him and let the spirit of God rule our lives. When that happens, we are transformed and made new, just like the man in the story. And once we are new, we have a job to do telling others about the wonderful power of Jesus!
Age Range: Elementary school, pre-K-5th grade (adjustable)
Materials Required: Empty tissue boxes or similar containers, decorative materials, large paper, clothes and accessories, cookies or rice cakes, frosting, small pig toys, bucket of water
Scripture Reference: Luke 8:26-39
Bonus Ideas: Some extra inspiration if you like to modify this lesson plan.
- Watch our children’s sermon on Luke 8:26-39
- Get teaching helps the Go and Tell message from Sermons 4 Kids
- Download our free Jesus is my King coloring book or the A is for Almighty page from our Bible Alphabet series.
Opening Game Activity
Opening: Play a couple of silly games to open this lesson. First, have a “dress-up relay.” Split students into two teams. Allow each team to choose a “model” that will be decorated. Provide clothes, hats, accessories, etc., and have them set in buckets on one end of the room. Have the models stand on the other end of the room. Time the activity and let students grab items out of the bucket and run across the room to dress the models. When the time runs out, you may choose a “winner” based on the number of items worn or creativity of the outfit. Or you can simply have both teams “win.”
Additionally, have students “dunk pigs.” Provide several small plastic pig toys. Allow students to take turns acting out the pig scene…you might let them push the pigs off a table, launch them catapult-fashion, or even fling them across the room! Have a small bucket of water available for them to land in.
Bible Lesson from Luke 8:26-39
Lesson: Explain to students that today we will look at a story that involves kind of a scary topic. Ask about things that might seem scary to students. What do they do when they feel scared? Let kids know that it’s okay to be afraid sometimes. Today’s story includes a frightening thing called demons. Demons are Satan’s helpers, and enemies of God. But guess what? They are scared of Jesus! They want nothing to do with Christians because they know we have Jesus inside of us! In the Bible story, though, there was a man who had demons in him. We aren’t sure exactly how they got there (assure kids that if Christ is in their hearts, they will NOT randomly get demons in their bodies!), but there were a bunch of them… Jesus met this man who was possessed by evil:
They sailed to the region of the Gerasenes, which is across the lake from Galilee. 27 When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!” 29 For Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places. -Luke 8:26-29
So Jesus knew what was happening to the man, and the demons recognized Him, too. They knew His power came from God, and didn’t want Him to destroy them. Jesus got their attention right away, and probably got the man’s attention. He addressed the issue…
Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”
“Legion,” he replied, because many demons had gone into him. 31 And they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss.
32 A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into the pigs, and he gave them permission.33 When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned. -Luke 8:30-33
Wait… pigs? Why pigs? Well, in Jewish times, pigs were considered dirty and untouchable. But in this town, there were non-Jewish people living and working, and they happened to have a bunch of pigs. The demons knew Jesus had power but begged him to go into the pigs. So He cast them out of the man’s body and sent them to the pigs, which then ran off into the lake. In this way, Jesus was also destroying part of the town’s economy base, as the pigs were probably used as part of business. It certainly got the attention of the townspeople:
When those tending the pigs saw what had happened, they ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, 35 and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 36 Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured. 37 Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left. -Luke 8:34-37
The people living in the town also realized something big was going on with Jesus. They may not have known what to think, but they knew their pigs were gone, and they then saw that the infamous crazy demon guy was completely transformed. They knew that for a long time this man had run around naked and insane, but now he was perfectly fine. The people felt so nervous and threatened that they asked Jesus to leave town. He agreed. But the man he had healed was reluctant. He was likely grateful, after all, and wanted Jesus to stay close.
The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him. -Luke 8:38-39
So what do we see here? Well, Jesus loves us, and He has power over any scary thing that might threaten our lives. We can still be scared, but we know Christ is stronger and better than whatever comes our way. We also know that Jesus can transform and change out lives in amazing ways! Because of this, we should want to share that with those around us, and ultimately with the whole world!
Craft Activity for Sunday School
Craft: Explore an extra game or craft/activity option that involves the concept of being changed or made new by God…
- Give students a plain item, like a small box or bucket, or a visor or cap, or plastic water bottle. Allow them to “transform” it into something new and special with decorations.
- “Make-over man mania”…on a large sheet of butcher paper, draw an outline of a person. Or you might even use a Halloween skeleton decoration, if one is available. Provide students with items like paper clothes, eyes, hearts, etc., and have them “change” the man to make him a whole person again.
- “Make-over snack”! Start with a plain cookie (or rice cake) and provide ingredients to decorate the snack and “transform” it into something new.
- To accompany the theme of courage, make a door hanger with the words “Fear Not!” to remember that Jesus is more powerful than any of our bedtime worries.
Close with prayer, thanking God for always being with us, even in the midst of frightening circumstances. Ask for help in trusting Him always and bringing fears to Him.