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A Successful Single-Minded Search for the Savior

Aim: To encourage a successful single-minded search for Christ in each child's life

Core Competency: Single-Mindedness

Objectives: The children will

  • Desire to seek God honestly
  • Expect a change in their behavior when they follow Christ

Key Verse: "We no longer believe just because of what you said: now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world." ( John 4:42 )

Story: "Woman at the Well " ( John 4:7-30,39-42 )

Materials Required:

  • Balloon, Black
  • Balloon, White
  • Pencil
  • Helium Tank (optional)
  • Candle, Red
  • Matches

Eye on Science:

Advance Preparation: Place the white balloon over the eraser end of the pencil, and push it into the black balloon. Remove the pencil, leaving the balloons nested together.

Using the helium tank, an air pump, or your (very strong!) lungs, inflate the white balloon (while inside the black balloon) just over half full and tie. Now, using your lungs, inflate the black balloon just a little more, ensure that the white balloon moves freely inside the black balloon, and tie.

If successful, you will have a helium-filled white balloon hidden inside of a normal-looking heavier-than-air black balloon. Since balloons are notoriously unreliable, you may wish to make two or even three sets as backup.

During Class: Feel free to tell the story of the Samaritan woman's fateful encounter with Jesus in your own words. In doing so, weave into the story the plan of salvation as you prefer to tell it. The text below is one approach to making clear the gospel message.

Refer the children to the story reference. Explain that in the time of Jesus, Israel was divided into three areas (rather like states in the current USA).

The lower "state" was Judea, which contain Jerusalem and the high-ranking religious leaders of the day. The upper "state" was Galilee, rather the "boondocks" and the area where Jesus conducted much of His ministry.

The middle "state" was Samaria, where the non-Jews imported by the Babylonians 400 years earlier lived. These "Samaritans" in the middle "state" had a corrupted knowledge of God - they accepted parts of the Bible (especially the moral part of the Law) while changing others (they believed that God should be worshiped in Mount Gerizim rather than Jerusalem, for instance) - see John 4:20 . They worshiped Who they did not know nor understand ( John 4:22 ).

Jesus' disciples had gone into town to buy food, and Jesus - hot and thirsty, but without a vessel to draw water - sits beside a well. Tell the story in seven steps, as shown below.

  1. John 4:7-9 - Jesus first wins the confidence of the woman by asking her for water. This was very surprising to the woman, for two reasons. First, men rarely spoke to women in public in this time. Even more surprising, Jewish individuals never spoke to Samaritans - in fact, most Jews would have crossed the Jordon in Judea and traveled around Samaria entirely rather than risk even seeing a Samaritan. Jesus also puts her in a confident position by asking a favor - He is now in her debt, and thus she is curious and anxious to continue the conversation.
  2. John 4:10-12 - Jesus offers her living water. Although she does not understand His offer, she can sense His special power to the extent of suspecting that He is greater even than the patriarch Jacob.
  3. John 4:13-15 - Jesus explains to her the meaning of the offer. She doesn't really understand - clearly she believes that He will permanently satisfy a physical need rather than a spiritual one - but she eagerly accepts. She has forgotten her own water jug, and is single-mindedly seeking what Jesus has to offer her.
  4. John 4:16-18 - Jesus shifts the topic to her life. He is not suddenly disdaining her femininity in asking for her husband, but rather gently leading her to a confession of sin. Her response - "I have no husband" - is at once honest but wary. Her actions have been shameful, but she is honestly ashamed and thus prepared to meet One who can offer forgiveness and freedom from guilt. By His answer, Jesus shows that He already knows her darkest secrets - and more importantly, that His offer of living water was not made based on an erroneous expectation of perfection, but rather in the full knowledge of her shortcomings ( Romans 3:23 ). Her soul is in eternal peril, but He has now offered her a free gift of eternal life ( Romans 6:23 ).
  5. John 4:19-24 - Jesus now explains worship that is pleasing to God. In effect, He shows her that her own religion with its legalism is no substitute for a true relationship with God. We cannot climb to God's level ( Ephesians 2:8-9 ) - only He can reach down to our level and lift us up.
  6. John 4:25-26 - In response to the woman's honest seeking for God and for relief from her spiritual thirst, Jesus makes a rare confession of His true identity. He plainly admits that He is the Messiah, the Goal that the woman was seeking, and the only solution to her separation from God ( John 14:6 ). At this point, her life changed. Explain to each child that his life can change, too, using the following demonstration.
    • (Hold up the black balloon.) Before meeting Jesus, the Samaritan woman's life was covered in sin. (Allow balloon to drop to the table or floor.) This sin dragged her down and kept her from knowing and serving God. My life was similarly dragged down by sin, as was yours. Perhaps yours still is.
    • (Strike a match.) This was the entire reason that Jesus was born - to bring light into our darkness ( John 1:4 ).
    • (Light the red candle.) Jesus lived a perfect life, yet He chose to allow Himself to be killed as a sacrifice for sin. In effect, He died as punishment for your sins so that you would not need to be punished ( Romans 5:8 ).
    • (Slowly bring the black balloon closer and closer to, but not yet touching, the candle flame.) If you will single-mindedly seek Jesus, you will find Him. When your life touches Him, you will be changed ( Romans 10:9 ). If you do not like loud noises, please cover your ears right now. (Allow the black balloon to touch the candle flame. Almost instantly upon touching the flame, the black balloon will pop, freeing the white balloon, which will begin to rise toward the ceiling. Let it rise.) First, your sin will be forgiven and your heart made clean, just as the balloon has instantly changed from black to white. Second, you will become a disciple of Christ, and will want to serve Him just as the white balloon rises toward heaven. Has Jesus touched your life this morning? If not, He wants to do so right now. If you have never asked Jesus to be your Savior but would like to this morning, please talk to me or to your parents right after class and we will show you from God's Word (hold up Bible) exactly how to make Jesus real in your life.
  7. John 4:28-30,39-42 - That Jesus had become real in the life of the Samaritan woman is obvious by her actions. She had come to the well in the middle of the day to avoid people - after all, they knew the kind of life she led, and probably whispered behind her back or even teased her openly. Now, however, she seeks out those in town to tell them about Jesus. Her actions are so striking that a large group left the town and sought Jesus. At first they sought Him because of her words, but after spending two days with Jesus, they believed He was the Messiah because of His words. Do your actions reflect the change that Jesus has made in your heart? Who was the last person you told about Jesus? Remember that our job as Christians is not to convert others - that is the job of the Holy Spirit. Our job is only to share the good news of Jesus Christ ( Romans 10:14-15 ).

Notes: If the white balloon is filled with helium, be sure the candle flame touches the bottom of the black balloon. If the white balloon if filled with air, be sure the candle flame touches near the top of the candle flame. If the black and white balloons are touching where the flame hits, both may well pop.

If using helium, then either use a "waxless" candle or touch the balloon to the flame quickly after the candle is lit. Otherwise, melted wax may splatter onto the white balloon when the black balloon bursts, and the white balloon may not rise because of the added weight.

Be particularly sensitive to children who are afraid of balloon pops and other loud noises. Be certain to warn the children who want to cover their ears with enough time that they are not startled or frightened.

Used: KIDZ 06/01

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