Scripture Reference: Luke 17:11-19
Suggested Emphasis: Express thankfulness to Jesus, God and others.
Memory Verse: Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 106:1
On his way to Jerusalem Jesus met ten men who were suffering from leprosy. He healed the men and then sent them to the priests so that they could obey the law and be publicly declared clean. Nine of the men went on their way while only one man, a Samaritan, returned to thank Jesus for what he had done.
The modern name for leprosy is Hansin’s disease. It is characterised by running skin soars and white patches. In New Testament times leprosy was a term used more broadly to also include probably any number of acute skin diseases (like eczema or psoriasis) involving inflammation of the skin.
Leviticus 13:1-46 instructs the Jews, quite graphically, how to deal with leprosy. A person suspected of having leprosy visited a priest. One of the priest’s duties would have been to know how to discern skin conditions. If the condition was not leprosy then various herbs and oils could have been used to heal it. If the priest considered it leprosy then the person was declared unclean.
After being quarantined for seven days the person was examined again. If the skin appeared clear then the person was quarantined another seven days to make sure and then pronounced clean.
If the skin had not cleared up then the quarantine was extended by another seven days. At that time, if the condition remained, then the person was cast out of the community. At any time, if the skin condition cleared up then the priest had to go outside the community to check on the person. Leviticus 14:1-32 outlines the eight-day ceremony that had to take place before the person could be declared clean again.
Today’s story begins as Jesus traveled along the border of Samaria. Jews viewed Samaritans as half-breeds and the two groups were often openly hostile to each other. Despite this, this group of Jews and Samaritans were drawn together by their common suffering of leprosy. Lepers were strictly forbidden to get near healthy people. They called out when approaching so no one would get close enough to be contaminated with the disease.
Perhaps they had heard of Jesus and thought he could help. Whatever they thought he might do to help them, they must have been shocked when Jesus healed them of their leprosy. The Scripture does not say exactly what condition these men were in but the symptoms must have been obvious because they knew immediately that the leprosy was gone. Perhaps their skin was restored or maybe the rotted flesh or missing appendages reappeared.
The men had been living away from other people. They must have been anxious to go and see their loved ones! Before they could do that they would have to go through the ceremony to be publicly declared clean. Jesus told them to go to the priest and show themselves.
All of the men rushed away to the priest. They must have been totally wrapped up in their joy. Only one of them (who was a Samaritan) stopped and came back to thank Jesus. Saying “thank-you” was and is much more than being polite. It is acknowledging where and whom the gift has come from. He wanted to acknowledge Jesus.
It is good for children to acknowledge those who bless them. The old saying “it is the thought that counts” is still true. No matter the size or quantity of a gift, we should thank those who gift us physically or of their time and care.
Way to Introduce the Story:
At the beginning of class present each child with a lolly (candy). Take care to praise those who say “thank you.” Do not embarrass any of the children who do not say “thank you”, simply praise the children who do. Tell the class how good it made you feel when the children showed appreciation. You may even want to try again and see who says “thank you” the second time around. The result is guaranteed to be better when you tell the children you want to give it another try! “Once Jesus did something very nice for ten men. Let’s see if any of them said “thank you.”
Have you ever had a sore or rash on your skin? You might have put cream or powder on it to make it go away. Sometimes the rash or sore might just go away by the next day.
In the times of Jesus’ ministry people sometimes got sores or a rash that would not go away. No matter what kind of medicine the person used, they did not get better. The sores would get so bad that the person would die. This was called leprosy.
People with leprosy could not get close to anyone else in case others got leprosy too. People with leprosy could not hug anyone or eat with anyone. They had to live away from the city. They could only be with other people who had leprosy.
Once there were ten men who had leprosy. They did not live in a city. They had to stay away from everyone. They must have been very sad.
The ten lepers had heard about Jesus. They heard that Jesus could make people well. The problem was that the men could not just walk up to Jesus because they did not want Jesus to get leprosy too. Instead, they waited on the road for Jesus to walk by. When they saw Jesus coming towards them they called out to him before he got too close.
The ten lepers said, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
Jesus must have been very sad to see these men. They would have had sores and some of them might have even had leprosy so long that their toes or fingers might have rotted off. The lepers probably even stunk.
Some people might have just wanted to run away from the men. But Jesus did not run away from them. He made them better instead. Jesus made all the leprosy disappear!
The men were so happy! They could hardly believe it when they looked at their healthy skin. Now they could go and be with their friends. Now they could go and give their families a great big hug.
Jesus told the men to go to the priest and show him that the leprosy was gone. The priest would have a special ceremony and the men would get permission to go back to the city where the other people lived. The ten lepers were so happy that they rushed off to find the priest.
Most of these ten lepers were Jewish men like Jesus and the apostles were but one of the lepers was a Samaritan Jew. Jews and Samaritan Jews did not like each other very much. The Jews thought the Samaritans were not very good Jews. They thought they were better than the Samaritans.
But as the ten men rushed away one man, a Samaritan, stopped and began walking back to Jesus. He wanted to say “thank you” for what Jesus had done.
The Samaritan was so thankful that Jesus had healed him that he threw himself down by Jesus’ feet and kept saying “thank you”. Others thought that Samaritan Jews were not good but Jesus knew that this man had a good heart full of faith. After all, the other nine just went on their way.
Jesus told the man to go on ahead to the priest. He said to the man, “Go, your faith has made you well.”
The man went on his way very happy and thankful.
Ways to Tell the Story:
This story can be told using a variety of methods. Always remain true to the facts found in the Bible but help children connect to its meaning by using drama, visual aids, voice inflection, student interaction and/or emotion.
Click here for visual aids and story-telling methods.
Click here to download the slideshow or click here to download the pictures to print.
Each teacher is unique so only use the illustrations that best relate to the way YOU are telling the story in THIS lesson. Too many illustrations can be confusing so eliminate any that cover other stories or details you do not wish to emphasise in this lesson.
- Jesus met ten men on the road. What disease did they have? Leprosy
- What did Jesus do to the ten lepers? Healed them of leprosy
- How many of the 10 lepers thanked Jesus for healing them? Only one
- He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands Song
- Books of the New Testament Song
- Refer to the Song Page on this website for more options.
Learning Activities and Crafts:
- Place ten cards on the table. One of the cards should have “thank-you” written on the back while the other nine should have “leper”. Children take turns mixing them up and trying to guess which one is the “thank-you” card.
- Use books from the public library that show pictures of someone with leprosy.
- Help children draw simple faces on their ten fingers. Take turns acting out the story with these “finger puppets.”
- Use a fine-line permanent marker to write ”thank you” on plasters. Let the children stick the plasters on as a reminder to say thank-you to people. A fun activity for older children might be to only put the plaster on after they have thanked ten people for things they have done.
- Hand each child a small treat of some sort. When a child says “thank-you” then they get an extra treat. Soon, everyone catches on and says “thank-you”!
- Make a Bottle Cap Word Puzzle so children can unscramble the important words from the lesson. Click here for Bottle Cap Word Puzzle Instructions.
- Use an online search engine such as http://images.google.com/ to search for pictures of people with leprosy. Some of these pictures can be very disturbing, especially to younger children, so use discretion and only pictures that are age appropriate for the children in your class.
- Show the children how to fold paper in an accordion style and cut to make paper doll chains. Make a paper chain with of ten men. Use these to review the story. Tear one off for the one that came back to thank Jesus.
- Have children write “I Am Thankful” on the top of a paper. Let them cut out pictures from magazines or draw things in their lives they are thankful for.
- Make cards in class to write thank-you notes to people in the congregation.
- Help children start writing a “gratitude journal”. Each week, in class, they can add 10 more things they are thankful for.
Check the Teaching Ideas page on this website for ideas that are adaptable to any lesson.
Other Online Resources:
- Colouring page and worksheets about the healing of the lepers (Calvary Curriculum)
- Lesson ideas at http://sundayschoolsources.com/lessons/tenlepers.htm
- Colouring page (sermons4kids.com)
- Word Search puzzle (sermons4kids.com)
- How to say “thank you” in many languages at http://www.enchantedlearning.com/crafts/thankyougifts/thankyou.shtml
- Lesson ideas at http://sundayschoolsources.com/lessons/tenlepers.htm
- Fill in the blank worksheet at http://sundayschoolsources.com/classmat/thankfulworksheet.htm
- Draw a line to the picture- worksheet at http://sundayschoolsources.com/classmat/im_thankful_for.htm
- Online activities and games at http://gardenofpraise.com/bibl47s.htm