The life of Paul is full of amazing and exciting stories. From his initial conversion on the road to Damascus to imprisonment to his shipwreck and snake bite, the apostle had an amazing record of life events and important lessons to share. Just as his first encounter with Christ was remarkable, the next event on his journey is also exciting. In this story, we see Paul escape a near-death threat with the help of his friends and an unusual method of transportation.
Lesson focus: God sometimes uses unusual methods and other people, but He will always take care of us if we trust Him.
Passage: Acts 9:20-31 Target Audience: Kindergarten-6th Grade (adaptable older or younger)
Materials Needed: Paper (or Styrofoam) cups, yarn, paper and decorating materials, Popsicle sticks baskets, ropes.
Option: Saul is converted coloring Page (pictured above)
Lesson Opening: Cable car challenge…this activity can be conducted using a few methods depending on number of students and available resources. Have students work in partners or teams, and explain that their job is to transport as many (stuffed toys, balls, balloons, whatever you choose) from one side of the room to another (or open space outdoors if better).
However, they must move the items using a basket and a rope. They can rig up a pulley system, stand on a chair, lower from one angle to another, however they opt to do, but must use the baskets. For younger students, hold a relay race where kids run back and forth filling baskets with items. After the game, gather kids students and explain that in today’s story they will hear about a person who took a ride in a basket!
Bible Lesson: Tell students that today they will hear a story of trust and deliverance. Remind students of the story of Paul and his amazing conversion (or briefly review the story if students have not already heard it). Pick up where that tale left off by describing how, after he spoke with Ananias and became a Christian, Paul traveled the rest of the way to Damascus and shocked the people by preaching about Jesus: Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus.
20 At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. 21 All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” 22 Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah. -Acts 9:20-22
Paul had been the chief enemy of the believers, yet here he was telling everyone about the good news of Christ! How could this be? The temple leaders and Jews noticed, as well, though…and they were not too happy about it:
After many days had gone by, there was a conspiracy among the Jews to kill him, 24 but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him. 25 But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall. -Acts 9:23-25
Paul had to escape from the city of Damascus because people were out to kill him. But the Jews were sneaky enough to block his exit by guarding the gates. So to be even sneakier, Paul had his friends help him out. They put him in a basket! Hopefully this was a big basket, probably a fishing tool of some sort…but they used it to get him out of the city safe and sound.
Do you think Paul was afraid? What did he have to do to allow his friends to do this crazy task? (He had to trust them and care about them). After making it safely out, Paul wet to Jerusalem and discovered he was still seen as an enemy by the disciples:
When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. 28 So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He talked and debated with the Hellenistic Jews,[a] but they tried to kill him. 30 When the believers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus. -Acts 9:26-30
We cannot really blame the disciples for their hesitance to believe Paul’s sincerity. After all, just a few days before he had been trying to destroy the Christians! Now here he was claiming to be one of them…that is the difference Jesus can make. He takes something dirty and broken and makes it clean and usable.
Once the disciples were convinced that Paul was a good guy, he was able to do some incredible things for the church and to further the gospel. But more than trusting Paul, the disciples had to trust God to protect them whether or not Paul was being truthful. When we put our trust in Him and believe, wonderful things can happen!
Craft: Paul in a basket…have children decorate a long piece of paper to look like a “wall.” Then allow them to decorate a cup as a basket and a large Popsicle stick for Paul’s body. Once they have completed these elements, help children hole punch the top and bottom of the paper as well as a spot in the cup. Place “Paul” in his “basket” and string yarn through all holes to create a basket that moves up and down, just like Paul!
Close with prayer and reminder of God’s work in our lives. Ask for trust and faith in His goodness and protection, and ask God for opportunities to share His love with others and take care of them.