"Wash Up – What Makes You Clean?" Sunday School Lesson from Mark 7

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"Wash Up" Sunday School Lesson from Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
This free Bible lesson is based on Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23, when Jesus and His disciples are eating without washing their hands, which makes the Jews question their adherence to the faith. It is designed for children’s church or Sunday School. Please modify as best fits your ministry. If your church follows the Revised Common Lectionary, this teaching plan would correspond to Year B – 14th Sunday after Pentecost, Gospel Reading – Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23.
Opening Activity – Wash Up – Old Testament Law, Real or Not Real
Supplies – painters tape (or other easy  to remove floor marker)
Before class mark off  6 parallel lines on the floor, about 18 inches apart.  Make the line long enough for all the kids to stand next to each other at one time.
Start with all of the kids standing side by side on the first line.  Read an Old Testament law from the list below and ask the kids if they think it is real or not real.  If they think it is real, they will raise their hand, if they think it is not real, they will leave their hands by their side.  For each correct answer kids will step one row forward.  For each incorrect answer they will step one row back .  The first child to make it to the last line wins.

  • Begin prayer with “Dear Lord” – NOT REAL
  • Circle your home once before entering – NOT REAL
  • Do not bow down before a smooth stone – REAL
  • Do not eat meat – NOT REAL
  • Men can not shave the hair on the side of their face – REAL
  • Do not eat worms found in fruit on the ground – REAL
  • Women must brush and braid their hair every morning – NOT REAL
  • Do not eat milk and meat cooked together – REAL
  • Do not eat fruit from a tree in its first 3 years – REAL
  • Give only to poor family members – NOT REAL
  • Do not throw objects further than 10 feet – NOT REAL
  • Do not wear clothes made of wool and linen together – REAL
  • Do not wear colorful clothing – NOT REAL
  • Leave a small amount of crops for the poor – REAL
  • Do not have more than 2 children – NOT REAL
  • Do not grow crops on the seventh or fiftieth year – REAL
  • Lend to the poor and do not demand payment on the loan if they don’t have it – REAL
  • Judges can not accept bribes – REAL
  • Give a traveler anything they ask for – NOT REAL
  • Do not live in Egypt – REAL

Lesson – Wash Up
Supplies – index cards, markers, large bowl of water, hand towels or paper towels, small treats (candy, grapes, etc)
We just learned about a few Old Testament laws.  Some we already knew, some were cool, and some seemed super strange.
There are actually WAY more laws in the Old Testament.  I mean WAY more.  I want everyone to take an index card and a marker, and I want you to take a guess at how many laws there were in the Old Testament.  Write your answer really big on your card, but don’t show anyone yet.
Is everyone ready?  Stand up with your card, and show everyone, and make a line from smallest to largest across the front of the room so I can see all of your guesses.  Now we can see who got the closest.
{Read guesses out loud, then eliminate guesses until you only have one left.}
We have our winner!  The actual number of laws is 613.  613 laws!  Can you imagine trying to remember all of those?
And then there are the traditions.  The traditions weren’t laws, but they might as well have been.  If you didn’t follow the tradition, you might not be able to eat with your friends and neighbors, or marry the person you want to marry, or sell your crops.
Our winner is about to teach us about one of those traditions.  As the winner, of course, you get a prize!  But before you can eat it, you must first wash your hands.  Here is your water and your towel.
Keep scrubbing.  More.  More.  Clean under your nails, between your finger.  And done.  No wait!  I think you need to scrub again just to be safe.  Actually, just keep scrubbing until I tell you to stop.
Does that seem a bit strange to you?  Washing your hands is a good thing to do, but should it be so important that no one will want to eat dinner with you?
Speaking of hands, let’s check on our winner.  Are your hands clean?  Just a little bit more scrubbing.  I will check on you again in a minute.
Back to our lesson.  The Old Testament had 613 laws for the Jews to follow.  In order to follow all of them the Jews had to study them and practice them.  And then there were all the traditions, which meant more time learning and practicing and doing.  There was so much time spent learning and following laws and traditions that many people forgot the most important law of all.
To love God.
Ok, I think we have clean hands now.  Thank you for playing along.  Now you can finally have your treat and take a seat.
Jesus and his disciples were eating dinner one day and when the Pharisees noticed that they had not washed their hands before they ate.  They couldn’t believe that Jesus was ok with His disciples ignoring this Jewish tradition.
But Jesus didn’t care one bit about their dirty hands.  And why should He?  They weren’t hurting anyone.
Jesus told the the Pharisees that there more important things for His disciples to do.  They were busy loving God and loving others.  They were traveling all over the place and telling people about Jesus.  They were teaching them how to repent, and telling them how they can have a clean heart, be saved, and go to heaven.
Jesus knew that there was absolutely nothing more important than sharing the good news with others.  Clean hands for 5 minutes, or a clean heart for all of eternity?  I’m going to follow Jesus on this one so I can spend eternity with Him.  I’m going to choose a clean heart.  How about you?
Activity A – Wash Up– Bible Verse Challenge
Supplies – Bibles
Verse – Mark 7:6-8
Pass out Bibles to students. Bibles should be closed and sitting on the table face up in front of each child. When you say go, have the kids look up this week’s Bible verse. As each child finds the verse, have them stick one finger on the verse and quietly raise their other hand. The first one to find the verse gets to read it to the rest of the class.
Help younger kids and new kids find the verse by following these steps.
Look in the Table of Contents for the book you are looking for. Make an effort to show them if it is found in the Old Testament or New Testament to help them in the future. Then open the Bible to the page number listed in the Table of Contents.
Show them the large numbers in the text, known as the chapters. Flip through pages until you find the large chapter number you are looking for.
Then scan through the text with them pointing out the smaller verse numbers until the correct number is found.
Activity B – Wash Up – Clean Hearts

Supplies – craft foam, scissors, washable markers, containers of soapy water, hand towels or paper towels
Before class, cut craft foam into ~5 inch squares.
Give each child a piece of craft foam, a washable marker, and a pair of scissors.  Have them draw a heart on the foam and cut it out.  (If you have younger kids, give them a template to trace or draw a heart before class.)
Then have them make a big scribble for each of the following they have done.  (Or ask them to come up with their own.)

  • Told a lie.
  • Talked back to parents.
  • Hit or pushed someone.
  • Stolen something.
  • Copied homework.
  • Made fun of someone.
  • Disobeyed parents.

Talk about how every time we sin our heart looks like this.  And their is only one way our hearts can be clean again.  As you talk about asking God for forgiveness and believing in Him, have the kids wash their hearts in the soapy water.  The marks should come right off and leave them with a heart made clean by God.
Closing Prayer – Wash Up

Ask for a volunteer to pray for the class before leaving, and encourage them to ask God to remind us of what is really important.


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