This is another fun miracle lesson, with a couple of interesting twists. In this story, Jesus encounters a man who has been crippled for many years. Jesus first asks the man if he wants to get better. Not realizing who he was speaking with, the man explained his situation, and received healing in an unexpected way. Although we do not always know what God has planned for us, we can recognize that He will always have the best in store.
Lesson focus: There are all sorts of superstitions and ideas about what will bless our lives. However, the only One truly able to help and save us is Jesus. He is the true healer, as long as we are willing to let Him into our lives.
Passage: John 5:1-9
Target Audience: Kindergarten-6th Grade (adaptable older or younger)
Materials Needed: Construction paper; Felt or fabric (optional); card stock; decorative materials
- We have a children’s sermon on John 5:1-9
- Jesus heals at the pool of Bethesda video Bible story
- Mission Bible class has some great lesson ideas for this passage (offsite link)
Jesus asks “Do You Want to Be Healed?” Pool of Bethesda Bible Lesson
Lesson Opening: Legless racing… have students line up in pairs or relay-style teams, depending on the size and ages of the group. Explain to students that they are to venture across the room to retrieve an item or high five a team pal (again, adjust race requirements to suit group needs). There is one catch: racing students cannot use their legs! They can use partners, or arms, but no legs. Is it challenging?
Bubble up! Provide students with a liquid (water, juice, etc.) and straw. Who can make the most bubbles? Or the longest bubble stream? The highest? You may even venture to bring bubble solution inside, and talk about how bubbles form….explain that in today’s story, we will encounter some bubbles, as well as someone who could not walk.
Feel free to communicate this story through puppets, illustrations, readings, or live skits. This might be a good opportunity to act out the story with participation or “acting” of a sort. Set the stage for a time in the New Testament, when Jesus was in Jerusalem.
After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. 3 In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed.[c]5 One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. -John 5:1-5
Provide a little information about this
particular pool. The term “Bethesda” means “House of Mercy,” and the pool was
near the temple. The sheep gate likely refers to how the pool may have been
used to bathe sheep that were being prepared for temple sacrifice. Since the water in the pool was used with the
temple, it was considered extra special or holy water. People would sit or lie
around the pool, partly due to the shade of the colonnades around and partly
for the hope that the water might have healing properties.
Speaking of which, there was a legend that every so often an angel would come and stir up the water in the pool. The first person to get into the water after it bubbled up was said to receive healing. So a lot of people in need were gathered around this pool. Jesus encountered one of them:
When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” 7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” 9 And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. -John 5:6-9
The question Jesus
asks here might seem a little strange. “Do you want to be healed”? Well, it
would seem obvious that the man would desire healing. But he answers with
excuses…he claims that he hasn’t been healed because no one can help him get
into the pool. But the man does not realize that he speaks with the true
healer. Special water cannot do it, and having an extra set of hands is not
going to do it. The interesting thing is how Jesus responds: He calls the man
to action. Without a lot of extra questions or fanfare, Jesus merely tells the
man to pick up his mat and go. What happens? The man is healed. It doesn’t take
time…it just happens “at once.” When the man was willing to believe and trust
Jesus, his life was changed. (if time
for extension allows, you may visit the criticism of the church leaders…but
main focus should be on God’s work here).
Emphasize for kids how Jesus is the true healer. Superstition can sometimes seem accurate, but it never compares with the real author of all life. We can rest assured that our prayers will be heard when we are trusting the one true God. When we have that faith, anything is possible!
Two potential activities (among others) work particularly well with this story. Invite students to create their own “lame man mat” in honor of the mat picked up. Have kids select colors of paper (or fabric, which is trickier) to weave. Cut slits in one long piece of paper, and help them to interweave the colors with one another until pictures are complete. (See attached photo example).
Additionally, have students make cards for someone who is ill or in the hospital. Pray over the card recipients and explain what a blessing it is to have our health.
Close with prayer and thanks to God for all of His amazing wonders. Ask for His help in trusting Jesus and recognizing His power in our lives.