Click below to download the Cornerstone Connections leader’s guide and student lesson. This week’s resources also include two lesson plans and a discussion starter video which offer different ways of looking at the topic. Each lesson plan includes opening activities, scripture passages, discussion questions, and real-life applications.
Humble Hero (Desire of Ages)
Chapter 27 - The First Leper to Be Cleansed by Christ
A dying leper dares to enter society because he hears that Jesus is coming and has never turned anyone away. Would Jesus accept him too?
Have you ever been sick? No, I don’t mean sick with a cold or headache, but sick with something contagious. It seems as if there’s a lot of that going around these days. Being a leper was somewhat like having Covid-19, except there was no treatment. If you had leprosy, you were an outcast. People would run away from you. It was a lonely existence. All of this changed when the main character of our story met Jesus.
Give your students the following list and ask them to answer each “If” question and give the reason for their answer. (A downloadable PDF is available.) Give them five minutes to complete the task. Then have students take turns reading off their answer to one of the questions and giving the reason why they answered as they did. Continue through the questions as time allows.
Being clean is extra important for some people. How many people do you know who take more than one shower a day? Everywhere you go currently there are lots of hand wipes, hand sanitizer, masks, and many more items to keep you from spreading your germs. Germs are relatively harmless, and people don’t usually avoid you because they are afraid of catching something you have. In our story today, however, a leper is looking for Jesus to change his situation.
BIBLE STUDY GUIDE
Read 2 Kings 5:1-8
1Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.
2 Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”
4 Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said. 5 “By all means, go,” the king of Aram replied. “I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten sets of clothing. 6 The letter that he took to the king of Israel read: “With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy.”
7 As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, “Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!”
8 When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: “Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.”
Read Matthew 8:1-4.
1When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. 2 A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” 3 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. 4 Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”
Being a person with leprosy was a lonely existence. People wouldn’t touch you, and you had to live away from everyone except those who had leprosy like you. In Jesus’ time, there was no cure. Today, there is treatment and a cure. Can you imagine what it must have been like to know that you would never hug or kiss your family again? When Jesus reached out and touched the man with leprosy, He was communicating with him. He was telling the man that He wasn’t afraid, and that the man with leprosy wasn’t going to be left alone. How would you have felt if you had been that man? Has there been a time in your life when you wished someone would give you a hug or want to sit and chat with you? These past months have been like that for many people. Covid-19 has made it difficult to get together, so lots of people have felt isolated and alone. Jesus came to change all that.
Write Jesus a letter telling Him how Covid-19 has affected your life. After you have written the letter, pause to pray. In your prayer, ask Him what lessons He has been trying to reveal to you. Be open; God wants us to be healed and cleansed. End by thanking Him for the good things He has helped you to see and come to understand over the past year.
In the ancient world leprosy was the most terrible of all diseases. It separated a person from others, including their family and friends. And the man whom Jesus touched had this disease. Jews in New Testament times would have been amazed by the simple statement: “And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched the leper.” This encounter inspires faith that Jesus can meet all of us, and with one touch transform our souls.
BACKGROUND ON LEPROSY
It might begin with little nodules which go on to ulcerate. The ulcers develop a foul discharge; the eyebrows fall out; the eyes become staring; the vocal cords become ulcerated, the voice becomes hoarse, and the breath wheezes. The hands and feet always ulcerate. Slowly the sufferer becomes a mass of ulcerated growths. The average course of that kind of leprosy is nine years, and it ends in mental decay, coma, and ultimately death.
Leprosy might also begin with the loss of all sensation in some part of the body; the nerve trunks are affected; the muscles waste away; the tendons contract until the hands are like claws. There follows ulceration of the hands and feet. Then comes the progressive loss of fingers and toes, until in the end a whole hand or a whole foot may drop off. The duration of that kind of leprosy is anything from twenty to thirty years. It is a kind of terrible progressive death in which a person dies by inches.
Lepers were treated as if they were, in effect, dead people. Immediately after leprosy was diagnosed, the leper was absolutely and completely banished from human society. “He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease; he is unclean; he shall dwell alone in a habitation outside the camp” (Leviticus 13:36). “Anyone with such a defiling disease must wear torn clothes, let their hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of their face and cry out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’” (Leviticus 13:45).
Scholars agree that in Jesus’ time the leper was barred from Jerusalem and from all walled towns. The synagogue provided him a little isolated chamber, ten feet high and six feet wide, called the Mechitsah. The defilement involved in contact with a leper was second only to the defilement involved in contact with a dead body. If a leper so much as put their head into a house, that house became unclean even to the roof beams.
Can you share a story about when you touched something that made you feel unclean?
Read Luke 5:12-16.
12 While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”
13 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him.
14 Then Jesus ordered him, “Don’t tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.”
15 Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. 16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
1. What did the leper do when he saw Jesus?
2. What were his words to Jesus?
3. What was Jesus’ next move?
4. What commands did Jesus give the man after his healing?
5. What effect did the healing of the man have on Jesus’ ministry?
6. What act of humility did Jesus employ as a result of this healing?
7. Describe what you imagine it would be like to be treated as if you were less than human, as a result of an illness or for some other reason.
8. What personal sin-sickness would you like Jesus to take away from you? Why?
One can vividly picture the scene of a person with leprosy coming through the crowd and worshiping Jesus. One can almost see the crowd drop back, opening the way for that person as people cried, “Unclean, unclean!” We see in this healing moment a progression of faith in the man that moved him in his manner of approaching Jesus. The man worshiped in faith, affirming his belief that Jesus could, if willing, cleanse him. We also encounter the Man of compassion, for Jesus reached out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” In this moment we take in a Christ faithful to the law while going beyond it, for He asked the leper to go to the priest and fulfill the requirements of the Law, “as a testimony to them.” We behold His humility as he sought to avoid undue publicity, saying, “Tell no one.”
Jesus acted with authority, not fearing the disease nor hesitating to be of service. Authority is not dominance but is the deepest sense of security in truth and in relationship with His Father for power. This humble authority ought to be at work in our lives, enabling us to say by faith, “Lord, I know you can heal me, please do it even right now.”
Touching people who had leprosy in Jesus’ day was a big no-no! Have you ever found yourself shunning people who are sick or who are different from you? When someone sneezed around you in a COVID-19 world, you may have gotten very upset. Any contagious disease would offer much pause and caution to those living in that era. Jesus connected with this man with leprosy with no issues, showed him compassion, and healed him.
Below, find some application activities to apply this lesson to your life this week. Use these ideas as written, or use them as inspiration to come up with your own ways to apply the lesson.
Ask your pastor or children’s ministry leader to share in an activity with the smaller kids of your church. It could be the children’s story, story time at children’s church, or any special gathering for church kids. Prepare the following activity for the kids.
Make a fun puppet in honor of the healed leper. Here are methods of doing so:
Think of someone in your church who has been really sick lately. It may even be someone who is terminally ill.
Share about what your class has learned regarding this story to all present at the sing-off. (This should be fun.)
Understanding & Relating to Asian American Youth
By Jane Hong-Guzman de Leon, Kevin Doi & Mike Park
If you’ve read Growing Young, you know how important it is to engage young people in your church. But how? Even when we bring our best intentions to these conversations, the dialogue somehow flops.
This comprehensive 40-page guide is the perfect handbook for any adult looking for a starting point in conversations with today’s Asian American youth. It includes an overview of the reality Asian American youth face, fundamental principles of conversation, plus 30+ questions and ideas for next steps.
1. Activity / Busy Bags for Kids
Help parents stay sane. Assemble bags with activities to keep small children busy.
Cost: Less than $5.00
Cheer up the homebound. Thoughtfully decorated placemats are a lovely extra to bring to meal recipients. If you’re able to laminate the placemats, all the better!
Cost: Less than $5.00
Help fight hunger. Pick up and deliver meals to seniors and people with disabilities.
Cost: Less than $5.00