The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

 ‘I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God

Intro:
Can you match the word or picture with its opposite? Can you think of your own pair of opposites? What is the opposite of humble? What is the opposite of justified? Today’s story is about two men who were opposites. Try and spot the difference when you hear Jesus’ story.

Game: Bulldog
One child stands in the middle of the room; they are it. The rest of the children begin at one end of the room. Their aim is to reach the other end of the room without being caught. They can only run when something from their outward appearance is called out (this means you will have some people at different ends of the room after a while). If a child is tagged as they are running they join the catchers in the middle. Last uncaught person is the winner. Call out the opposites i.e. “Opposite of a boy” means the girls run.

Game: Treasure Hunt
Cut out some opposite pair pictures and hide them around the room. Each child has to find a picture then find the person who is holding their opposite!

Memory verse:
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:10
I just found this excellent blog with tons of Bible verses; beautifully designed for colouring, by Mr Adron. Well worth a visit, and why not start with the page that illustrates this verse.

Drama:
When this script was first performed my actors available were Tom and Phil so the casting was obvious!

Talk:
What kind of person do you think God likes? We know from the drama that Phil the Pharisee thought God would like someone like him. After all, he was a very good person, he worked hard at keeping God’s laws, even his job was all about making God happy with him.
It can be very easy to think like Phil. To think that we need to be good and God will like us, if we can keep his rules then God will let us into heaven. But Jesus gives his story a surprise ending! Good people do not go to heaven!
It’s not Phil who is justified at the end of the story; it’s Tom the Tax-Collector. In spite of all the good things he’s done Phil isn’t good enough. He’s judgmental and proud. He doesn’t think he needs God’s help he’s only gone to the temple to show off to him.  It’s Tom who knows he’s a bad person; who knows he’s upset God with the way he’s lived. So Tom goes to God to say sorry and to ask him to help. God doesn’t have to say yes, but Jesus tells us that he does: God loves to accept people who aren’t good enough!
Jesus told this story to a group of people who were a lot like Phil, maybe some of them were Pharisees but some of them were ordinary men and women, ordinary boys and girls, who were good. They were probably very good. But no-one is good enough for God.  We have a choice to keep trying and failing, or to go to God and say I’m not good enough for you, but please help me, please rescue me. And he will.

Activity:
There’s a wordsearch for this.

Songs:
So Great is Jesus’ Love – Dr Rocktrin and the Groovemeisters: God Unlimited
Ze baddest sickness – Colin Buchanan: Super Saviour

Prayer:
Why not pray the prayer that Jesus’ tax-collector in the story prayed? “God, have mercy on me, a sinner” Older children can put this into their own words.

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