It was my turn to do Sunday School again, so here is what the Lord gave me. I hope someone else may be able to benefit from it or maybe use it with their children at home or Sunday School. It is the story of the sinful woman washing Jesus' feet with her tears from Luke 7:36-50.
I took along a tablecloth, a bag of popcorn, some plastic bowls, a bottle of body lotion, and a cup which looked nice on the outside, but the inside was all dirty. We always start with a short prayer that the our Father in Heaven will help us know Jesus better and love Him more, then a song. This time it was 'Jesus' love is so wonderful.'
Then I spread the tablecloth on the floor and told them that at a special meal in Jesus' day the diners would recline on low couches around a low table, with one side open for servants to bring the food. Usually two people would share from a dish. So the children 'reclined' on the floor on three sides of the tablecloth, with a bowl of popcorn between every two.
I kept standing, telling them about the customs of Jesus' day and the story of Luke 7:36-50. The bottle of body lotion was our 'fragrant ointment.' We didn't actually wash any feet, but they did enjoy rubbing the body lotion on their hands and arms. And they loved the popcorn!
The dirty cup was to show them that Jesus sees the inside of us. We can look good on the outside, like Simon the Pharisee, but inside he was rotten and full of pride. The sinful lady, who everyone thought was so terrible, was clean on the inside because she was totally forgiven of all her sins.
The cup I took was actually a pewter goblet we happened to have. I didn't want to really make it dirty, so I smeared some olive oil inside and sprinkled cocoa powder over it to stick to the sides. When I showed it to the children, I just let them see the outside first and asked if anyone would like to drink from it. They all wanted to. Then I showed them the inside, all mucky. We talked about Jesus knew what was inside us, all about us, and we all needed His forgiveness and mercy.*
At the end I gave each child a picture to color, which I got from the Calvary Chapel's Sunday School website at http://children.cccm.com/ , and I would put the link here, but I cannot find the picture again, sorry. It was a good one too, not the usual cartoony, clumsy image, but a beautiful lady kneeling and washing Jesus' foot. He was not in the picture because, of course, we do not know what He looked like and are not supposed to make images of Him. The girls loved coloring it and one said she would put it up on her wall.
Here are some notes I made beforehand:
Jesus goes out to dinner
Jesus was invited to a meal at the home of Simon the Pharisee. But He was not made welcome! (Luke 7:36-50)
In Jesus’ time when a guest was invited for a meal, the host would:
- Greet the guests with a kiss.
- Provide water for the guests to wash their feet, or a servant would come and wash their feet. As a mark of special respect and affection, the host might himself wash the feet of a guest. The custom was necessary because most people wore sandals, and their feet would be very dusty.
- In the case of a specially honoured guest, the host would pour or smooth some scented olive oil on their head.
The guests at a banquet would lie on couches on their left side, leaning on their left arm and using their right hand to eat. They had no cutlery. Two guests would share a dish. Or at a smaller gathering all the guests would dip into one large dish.
At some suppers local people were allowed to come uninvited (Deut 16:11), and could stand around, listening to the conversation.
So…as Jesus reclined at the table, the sinful woman came in and stood behind Him, at His feet. I have seen some articles on the web which say the woman could have been a gentile, but this is wrong. No Jew would allow a gentile into his home - especially a Pharisee! Any sinful gentile woman trying to gatecrash his party would have been ordered straight back out again.
The woman, whoever she was, loved Jesus, and she was so overcome with emotion that she started to cry, and her tears fell on Jesus’ feet. She must have been sobbing almost uncontrollably, because her tears made His feet all wet. So she bent down and dried His feet with her long hair.
She had brought along an alabaster jar of ointment. It was probably expensive, to be in such a lovely jar, and it no doubt smelled wonderful. She poured and smoothed the ointment into His feet.
Simon the Pharisee watched all this with disgust. Jesus must be a fraud, he thought. If He was really from God, He would have known that the woman was a notorious sinner and would not have allowed her even to touch Him.
Jesus knew exactly what Simon was thinking, and He told Simon the story of two people who owed money. They were debtors. The person they owed money to was the creditor. One owed £50 and the other one owed £500 to the creditor. Neither of them could pay a penny.
The creditor was a kind man, and he forgave both of them their debts…he wiped their slates clean, so they owed him nothing.
Jesus asked Simon the Pharisee: Which one would love the creditor more? He who had been forgiven a small debt, or he who had a large debt just wiped away?
Simon correctly answered: The one who owed more money would love him more.
Yes, Jesus said. And now look at this woman. I came to your home and you gave Me no water to wash My feet, yet she has washed My feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave Me no kiss, but she has not stopped kissing My feet. You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil.
“Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little."
Then Jesus said to the woman: “Your sins are forgiven…your faith has saved you. Go in peace.” The woman was granted complete peace of heart despite her bad history. She did not have to suffer a guilty conscience. She was granted the joy and peace of knowing Jesus and knowing that she was forgiven and would one day go to Heaven.
Jesus publicly announced her forgiveness. Her debt was cancelled out. Her slate was wiped clean. The other guests were not happy about this! In fact they were very displeased and questioned that Jesus had the power to forgive sins. It is the same today. The natural man finds it hard to forgive anyone and thinks God is the same, but that is not so. God is full of love and the whole purpose of Jesus coming as a man was to suffer and die as a sacrifice for the sins of all who put their trust in Him. God wants to forgive sinners! He wants to give us all peace and joy!
The self righteous Simon had no peace and joy. He was just as bad a sinner as the woman, but he didn’t see it that way. He was full of pride, and quick to criticize and reject Jesus, the only One who could save him. The townsfolk probably thought of Simon as a pillar of the community, very religious. He was well off to give such a banquet. He was probably envied by people. Simon looked good on the outside, but Jesus saw his heart. He was rotten inside, just like everyone who refuses to come to Jesus.
Jesus said: “ I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (Luke 5:32)
The apostle Peter said: “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God…” (1 Peter 3:18)
The apostle John said: “…the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7)
And the apostle Paul said: “…Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6)
No one likes to admit they have ever done anything wrong, but if we tell Jesus our sins, He will forgive them and wipe them away. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
Prayer: Lord Jesus, please forgive my sins and make me full of love for You. Please come and live in my heart.
*The 'dirty' cup: I got this idea from my son-in-law Michael in Israel. He did this with our grandchildren to illustrate what Jesus said about the Pharisees, that they looked fine on the outside, but inside - oh my.