The Lord acts in mysterious and often unexpected ways. We seldom have things happen how we might imagine or even hope they will, but fortunately God’s plans are greater than ours! This lesson discusses how important it is to trust in Jesus for all things, even if we have a hard time understanding Him. The story reminds us of a time when the Son of God healed a blind man by making mud with spit! Some people were upset by this action, but they missed out on who Jesus was and how great He was. His power and methods are beyond comprehension!
The question asked at the beginning of this story is “Who sinned?” People in that day assumed that physical ailment was a punishment for wrongdoing, and should somehow be atoned for. We know that Jesus has erased our sins once and for all, and continues to save and forgive us. We might still endure physical suffering, but He has healed our souls!
Passage: John 9:1-41
Target Audience: Kindergarten-6th grade
Materials Needed: Items that have surprising uses, such as vinegar, toothpaste, lemon juice, milk, etc; mud (optional visual)
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Object Lesson (5 minutes)
Greet children, and invite them to consider unusual uses for things…
Hello, children of God!
Have you ever received unusual instructions about something? Or perhaps you’ve gotten help from a strange or unexpected source? There are times when I’ve learned about certain products that helped things I might have never guessed. (Choose whichever of the following examples works best for your environment, students, and items you have on hand.)
For instance, let’s say I made a bit of a mess (wipe something greasy on a plate, such as butter or mayonnaise). How can I get this cleaned up? I certainly can’t do it with my hand. A tissue or napkin doesn’t do much better…but let’s try this (pull out vinegar). It smells a bit funny, but believe it or not, this item can help clean a lot of things. Let’s find out. Observe how the vinegar cuts through the grease and cleans the plate. Wow, that’s pretty neat! I’ve heard of some other creative solutions to problems, too. Did you know, for instance, that toothpaste can help with more than just your teeth? I’ve used it on pimples and even wasp bites! Or what if you eat something super spicy, and want to cool your mouth down? Water can help, but the best item to use is actually good old milk! It calms the spice and soothes your throat.
Now, maybe you knew about some of these things, maybe not. But there are sometimes that we find help in unusual ways. That happened to a man in the Bible. Jesus met a man who had been born blind. He was never able to see. Someone asked Jesus if the man had done something wrong, or maybe his parents had done something sinful. They believed that if someone had a handicap of some sort, it was a punishment from God for sinning! Anyway, Jesus responded that it wasn’t anyone’s fault, but was an opportunity for God to be glorified. Then He did something strange: He spit into the dirt and made mud. Then He wiped the mud over this man’s face, and told him to go and wash up in a pool. When he did, he could see! It was a miracle, perhaps not in the way the man might have expected, but he knew that he was blind, and then could see.
The church leaders of Jesus’s day (called Pharisees) did not like this much. They tried tricking and trapping him with questions, angry because He had healed someone on a special Sabbath day. They were so focused on the specifics of how He had done things that they missed out on Who He was, and what a great thing had just happened! They missed knowing the Messiah was right there with them.
The man who had been healed knew Jesus was someone remarkable. He could have questioned the mud facial or refused to believe in Christ like the Pharisees did. But He trusted Jesus. We can trust Him, too. Sometimes, well, most of the time, He does not work in the ways we would expect Him to. He might not answer our prayers in the timing or the method that we would prefer. Sometimes good things come, but bad things happen first. We cannot predict and sometimes cannot understand how God works. But we can trust that He has our best interests in mind. Even in times that we don’t get earthly miracles or healing, we know that He has given us Jesus and removed our sins. We know that one day we will be with Him in Heaven. We can trust that He is always with us, in good times and in bad. If we get caught up in the tiny details of how He’s doing things, we might miss out on how wonderful He is, like the Pharisees did. But we know He loves us and will always listen when we pray, even if He answers or works in unexpected ways!
Why don’t we say a prayer now and ask God for help?
Prayer: (Invite the children to repeat each line)
Thank you for giving us new life.
Help us to trust in you
Even when it’s confusing or strange.
Help us rely on you for all things.
Thank you for your love
We love you, God!
In Jesus name, Amen!
Game & Activities Suggestions
This passage reminds us that Jesus cares for our needs and will meet them, even if He sometimes provides in unexpected ways. The story involves a special healing, mud, and a blind man. Open with some activities to spark thought and introduce themes. Some possible ideas include:
- Making mud: have students make mud, just like Jesus did. Gather some dirt, and have messy fun adding water to it for mud. Note: this activity may best be done outdoors.
- Make edible mud! Make fudge or chocolate pudding or frosting. If you want to add an extra “dirt” element, throw some crushed Oreo cookie crumbs on top!
- Blind tag: In a small area, have students play tag with a twist: the “it” player is blindfolded and can call out, somewhat similar to Marco Polo.
- Blind art: invite students to draw a picture, with eyes closed or blindfolded. Observe the challenges of not seeing, as well as how unique the pictures turn out.
- Blind guide: have one student blindfolded, and have other students lead them through an obstacle course (or do this in partners with multiple students at a time). For extra challenge, have the guide lead with voice only, not touching the “blind”.
Explain to students that today’s lesson focuses on how Jesus healed a man who could never see. The way He healed him was rather unusual, and some people didn’t understand what was going on, but it was a miracle! When we trust in Jesus, anything can happen.
Main Bible Teaching
This passage is a bit longer, and can be approached in a variety of ways. For younger students, you may wish to paraphrase things or find a story book version. You could also assign parts and have children act it out, to an extent. Older participants may be able to take turns reading verses, and pause to clarify parts of the passage and identify what is going on.
John 9:1-5 ESV As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
Explain that in those days, people often thought that having some sort of ailment or handicap was a punishment for sin. The disciples asked Jesus if the man was blind because of something he had done, or something his parents did. We know that we all sin, and are only saved because of Jesus. Jesus explained to the disciples that the man was going through hardship in order to bring ultimate glory to God.
Ask: Have you ever had something happen that was challenging, but brought good things later?
John 9:6-7 ESV Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud 7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.
This sounds rather strange…Jesus gave the blind man a mud facial! That was probably the last thing the man expected. Being blind, he probably only made money by begging for it. Perhaps he hoped that Jesus would give him a coin or two. Instead, Jesus spit into the dirt and put mud over this guy’s face! Then He told the man to go wash himself in a special pool. The blind man could have called Jesus crazy and tried to wipe the mud off with the hem of His robe, but he trusted this man, and did as he was told. After washing the dirt away, he was healed!
John 9:8-12 ESV The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” 10 So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and received my sight.” 12 They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”
Ask: How do you act when you hear news that seems unbelievable? Have you ever been told something that seemed too wild to be true?
Explain that this encounter with Christ transformed the man. He was so changed that the people who knew him before didn’t even believe it was him. They thought it must be someone else who looked sort of like the blind man, and wanted to know how it could be possible that he could suddenly see. They were so suspicious and perplexed that they took him to see the Pharisees. Remind children that the Pharisees were the people who were in charge of the church. They were very focused on rules and regulations, and they often did not get along very well with Jesus.
John 9:13-17 ESV They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14 Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15 So the Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” 16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them. 17 So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.”
There are a lot of cultural customs to explain in this passage, and these verses present another one. The Pharisees were very strict about keeping God’s Sabbath Day holy. This is great, but they did so to an obsessive and extreme extent. They were upset because Jesus “worked” on the Sabbath, by making the mud and healing the man. In fact, they were so focused on the fact that Jesus did the miracle on the Sabbath that they overlooked how amazing it was that a miracle had taken place! This man was blind and could see, and proclaimed himself how remarkable Jesus was. But all the Pharisees could think was how Jesus had violated their Sabbath rules.
Ask: Have you ever missed out on something good because you were distracted or focused on the wrong thing?
John 9:18-23 ESV The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight 19 and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 20 His parents answered, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. 21 But how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” 22 (His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.) 23 Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
The Jews were still skeptical that this man had been healed. They thought maybe he had somehow deceived them or wasn’t the same person, so they went to his parents to verify the claims. Sadly, though, his parents were nervous, because they knew that they could get in trouble for saying that Jesus was Christ. They were afraid of the church leaders and didn’t want to lose their place in the synagogue, so they pushed off the questions and told the Jews to inquire the man himself.
John 9:24-34 ESV So for the second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.” 25 He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 26 They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27 He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” 28 And they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” 30 The man answered, “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. 32 Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34 They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out.
Ask: Have you ever had an opportunity to share the good news of Jesus with others? What happened?
The man who had been blind told things pretty plainly. It was clear to him that Jesus was sent from God and had miraculous ability, or He couldn’t have healed him. It seemed clear and obvious. But when he stated this plainly, the Jews threw him out of the church. They only wanted to hear things that matched up with the way they believed and held power, and they were threatened and upset by this man speaking so highly of Jesus. Fortunately, though, their rude actions did not discourage the man from believing and following the Lord.
John 9:35-41 ESV Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” 38 He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. 39 Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt, but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.
Ask: Why do you think the Pharisees refused to acknowledge who Jesus was? Have you ever met someone who wouldn’t believe in Jesus?
Jesus came to seek and save the lost. He could see that this man truly believed in Him and recognized what He had done and who He was. The man worshiped Him. On the other hand, the Pharisees should have recognized Jesus. They should have known who He was and praised Him, but they were focused on their own agendas and missed out on the opportunity to welcome and embrace their Messiah. Sometimes we don’t realize how God blesses our lives, because things we experience don’t turn out quite the way we would have imagined or expected. We need to trust that He has our best interests in mind, and that He will heal and love us no matter what. We should also be ready to rejoice in Him and proclaim His good news to others, thankful for who He is and what He does.
Close with prayer, thanking God for healing us and asking Him to help us trust in Him.