Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Pharisee and Tax Collector by Martin Wiles

(All material is original to the author with the exception of songs and activities which have been borrowed from various sources. All studies are free for public use.)

Scripture Reference: Luke 18:9-14
Related Scripture Reference: Romans 3:23
(Compiled and written by Martin W. Wiles)

Objectives: We live in a culture that often downplays the seriousness of sin. This lesson will remind children how terrible sin is in the eyes of God. Sin can lead to God’s punishment. If we don’t confess it and trust Jesus as our Savior, it will keep us away from God for an eternity.

Say: Today we’re going to read a story about a very religious man called a Pharisee and a very bad man called a tax collector. Today, the Pharisee would be like a preacher at a church or a teacher in a college. He knew God’s Word well and was capable of teaching it to others. The Pharisees were very careful to do everything God had said to do in the Bible. Tax collectors, on the other hand, weren’t liked by anyone. They collected taxes for the Roman government. Rome was the foreign nation ruling over the nation of Israel during Jesus’ time. Tax collectors had to collect the amount the government told them to, but they would often collect more than that and put in their own pockets. Many people considered them robbers and thieves. One of Jesus’ disciples, Matthew (Levi), was a tax collector before he became a follower of Jesus. 

Say: (Display the following verse where the children can easily see it.) Let’s say our memory verse together. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. (Romans 3:23 NLT)

Bible Story Time: 
Tell children the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector:

Jesus told a story about a Pharisee and tax collector because some people thought they could be good enough for God to accept them. These same people tended to look down on other people whom they thought they were better than. The two groups of people in Jesus’ day who thought like this were the Pharisees and Sadducees. Both groups were leaders in the church of Jesus’ day, but the way they thought God accepted a person was wrong. Jesus had to correct their way of thinking. 

Reflection: What does our memory verse say all people are? Do you think God loves us because we’re good or just because he wants to love us? 

People in Jesus’ time went to the Temple to pray just like we do when we come to church. Jesus tells about a certain Pharisee who went to the Temple to pray. He wasn’t the only one there; there were probably many other people praying as well. This very religious man probably walked down to the front where everyone could see him before he started praying. 

Reflection: What are some things we should do when we come to church? Why should we come to church? 

The Pharisee’s prayer was very boastful and selfish. He began by thanking God that he wasn’t a sinner like everyone else, especially the tax collector over in the corner. He listed sins he had never committed and then told about all the good things he did for God. 

Reflection: What are some things we might boast about that we do for God? Instead of bragging, what should have the Pharisee have done? 

The tax collector’s prayer was quite different. He stood at the back and wouldn’t even look toward heaven. He knew he was a sinner and told God how sorry he was. He cried out for God to forgive him. Jesus concluded the story by saying that the tax collector was the one who went home forgiven.

Reflection: Why do you think God forgave the tax collector and not the Pharisee? The tax collector confessed his sins to God. What do you think it mean to confess your sins? (Read the following verse: But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness (I John 1:9 NLT). What does God promise to do when we confess our sins? 

Activity Break: 
Kneel With Jesus
Follow the footpath where Jesus walked (step in place).
Sit by the seaside where Jesus talked (sit down).
Hold the little children who sat on his knee (pat knees).
See the great miracles that came to be (point to eyes).
Hear glad praises the children raised (cup hand to ear).
Speak with the angels who sang his praise (point to
mouth).
Feel the sweet love Jesus freely shared (cross closed fists on
chest).
Kneel in the garden with Jesus in prayer (palms together, kneel).

Transition:
Let’s sing a song to celebrate how wonderful God’s love is.

Song:  
I've Got the Joy in My Heart

I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart
Where?
Down in my heart!
Where?
Down in my heart!
I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart
Down in my heart to stay.

And I'm so happy
So very happy
I've got the love of Jesus in my heart
Down in my heart
And I'm so happy
So very happy
I've got the love of Jesus in my heart.

I've got the love of Jesus, love of Jesus
Down in my heart
Where?
Down in my heart!
Where?
Down in my heart!
I've got the love of Jesus, love of Jesus
Down in my heart
Where?
Down in my heart to stay.

And I'm so happy
So very happy
I've got the love of Jesus in my heart
Down in my heart
And I'm so happy
So very happy
I've got the love of Jesus in my heart.

I've got the peace that passes understanding
Way down in the depths of my heart!
Where?
Down in the depths of my heart!
Where?
Down in the depths of my heart!
I've got the peace that passes understanding
Way down in the depths of my heart!
Down in my heart to stay.

And I'm so happy
So very happy
I've got the love of Jesus in my heart
Down in my heart
And I'm so happy
So very happy
I've got the love of Jesus in my heart.

And if the Devil doesn't like it
He can sit on a tack!
Ouch!
Sit on a tack!
Ouch!
Sit on a tack!
And if the Devil doesn't like it
He can sit on a tack!
Ouch!
Sit on a tack to stay!

And I'm so happy
So very happy
I've got the love of Jesus in my heart
Down in my heart
And I'm so happy
So very happy
I've got the love of Jesus in my heart.

Wrap Up: 
Let children color the Pharisee and Tax Collector coloring sheet. 

Take Away:
Let each child tell one thing they learned from the story of the Pharisee and Tax Collector.