Use this children’s Sunday School lesson to help students understand the need to do the best thing over the good thing.
Needed: Bibles, cookies or other small prizes
Intro Activity: Acting It Out
Divide students into groups of three or four. Have each group decide on and act out one part of your church service. After each group, briefly discuss why your church includes that in its weekly worship. Point out that doing those actions are part of the way you make the Sabbath a holy day.
Intro Game: Good vs. Best
For this game show type game, you’ll call on volunteers to come up and answer a question about the Bible (choose questions you think kids will know). If they get the answer right, give them a cookie or other small prize. Then, tell them that they can take their one cookie or prize and sit down or they can try to answer another question. If they get the second question right, they’ll get a second cookie or an even better prize. If they get it wrong, they lose their cookie or prize they earned from answering the first question.
When everyone who wants to has had a chance to play, ask, Was it a difficult choice deciding if you were going to try to answer the second question? Why or why not?
Sometimes, we need to make difficult decisions, and we have to think about what the best choice is.
Ask students, What are some rules you have in your house?
Are you ever allowed to break those rules?
What if one of the rules in your house is that you’re not allowed to run in the house, but then a fire starts in your house; are you allowed to run away from the fire even if that means you have to run in the house? (Yes.)
Your parents don’t want you to run in the house usually because you might bump into something or fall and hurt yourself. But if there’s a fire, then they would want you to break the rule so that you could get away and be safe. It’s the choice between doing the good thing of not running and the best thing of running in that situation.
What if it was your bedtime and you were supposed to be in bed, but then you heard your mom or dad fall down; are you allowed to get up and go see if they’re okay even though you’re supposed to be in bed? (Yes.)
Your parents usually want you to stay in bed when it’s bedtime, but if they fall down and get hurt, they would like it if you came to help them. It’s the choice between doing the good thing of staying in bed and the best thing of going to check on your parents.
So, there are times when we’re allowed to break the rules if we’re trying to do something more important than following the rules, like getting away from a fire or making sure our parents are okay.
It’s the same way with God’s rules.
(Read Matthew 12:1-2.)
“At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to Him, ‘Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.’”
Jesus’ disciples were hungry and were picking food out of the farm field and eating it. But the Pharisees said the disciples were breaking the rules because you weren’t supposed to be doing farm work on the Sabbath. God’s rule was that the Sabbath day was only for going to church and resting.
(Read Matthew 12:3-8.)
“He answered, ‘Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent? I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. If you had known what these words mean, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice,” you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.’”
Jesus said that sometimes there are special reasons why it’s okay to break God’s rules.
(Read Matthew 12:9-10.)
“Going on from that place, He went into their synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked Him, ‘Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?’”
One day, when Jesus went to church, he saw a man whose hand didn’t work right. The Pharisees said it was against the rules for Jesus to heal the man’s hand because it was the Sabbath day, and God’s rule was that you weren’t allowed to work on the Sabbath day. The Sabbath day was only supposed to be for going to church and resting.
But do you think God would want Jesus to heal the man’s hand, even if that meant breaking the rules and doing a little bit of work on the Sabbath? (Yes.)
God likes it when we help other people, and God wanted Jesus to heal the man’s hand, even if that meant breaking the rule of the Sabbath.
(Read Matthew 12:11-12.)
“He said to them, ‘If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.’”
Jesus said it was okay to help the man because it was a good thing to do to help the man, even if that meant breaking the rule about not doing any work on the Sabbath. Jesus knew God would want Him to break the rules if He had a good enough reason, just like your parents would want you to break the rules in your house if you had a good enough reason.
Jesus had the choice between doing the good thing of keeping the Sabbath and the best thing of helping the man with the disabled hand.
(Read Matthew 12:13.)
“Then He said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other.”
Game: Hide and Go Sheep
Pick one person to be It. They are the Shepherd. Everyone else is the Sheep. They go and hide while the Shepherd counts. The Shepherd then tries to find the Sheep. When he or she finds one, that Sheep helps them look for the others. The last Sheep found becomes the new Shepherd for the next round. Play as long as time allows or until everyone has had a chance to be the Shepherd.
Remind students that just like the Shepherd goes to find his sheep that need help, so Jesus helps us.
Jesus, we pray that You’ll give us wisdom always to do the right thing, even if it means breaking other good rules. Amen.
You can also find this lesson for Kindle or in print in my book, The Miracles of Jesus.