“You may be the only Jesus someone sees today,” is a phrase used in the church. Is it true? Use this Elisha and the Shunammite woman object lesson to discuss trusting in God and how Jesus is our Mediator.
Scripture Focus: 2nd Kings 4:8-37
- Pitcher of water with 4 ounces of water
- Plastic cup (preferably Solo cup, which has a white interior)
- ½ tsp. of Water Gel powder – sodium polyacrylate gel (Purchase through Steve Spangler Science, https://www.stevespanglerscience.com/store/water-gel-starter-set.html, or on Amazon)
- Paper towels (just in case)
- One volunteer
Preparation: Put ½ tsp. of water gel powder in the cup and 4 ounces water in the pitcher before children arrive.
Geography: The Northern Kingdom of Israel in 892-832B.C., the town of Shunem, a town between Samaria and Carmel.
Background: Elisha was a prophet who came after Elijah. Elisha traveled around the nation encouraging the people. In this event, the Shunammite woman finds Elisha at Mt Carmel. This is where his mentor, Elijah, saw fire come down from heaven.
Object and Bible lesson for Elisha and the Shunammite Woman:
[Place the chair beside you. Have the volunteer come to you. Before they sit down, ask:]
- Do you trust this chair to hold you up? [Yes]
- Why? [Allow for answer; If they have sat in chairs that held them up many times, then they will most likely trust a chair to hold them again.]
[Show the cup and the pitcher of water to the children. Tilt it a bit so they can see that nothing is in the cup. Unless they are near to you, they should not be able to see water gel powder in cup. Say to the volunteer as you pour water into the cup…]
I am going to pour this water over your head. BUT I promise you won’t get wet. This is an exercise in trust. I want to see if you trust me.
[Keep holding the cup like it has water in it as the gel absorbs the water. Read 2nd Kings 4:8-37 then ask:]
- Why do you think the woman wanted to put a room in her house for Elisha? [She recognized that he was a man of God, and she trusted in God, not some of the idols that were so prevalent in that day.]
- If you were going to build a room on your house for your pastor to stay in when he came by, what would you put in the room? [Allow for answers]
- What did the woman in the story put in the room for Elisha? [a bed, a table, a chair, and a lampstand]
- Why do you think she put those things in there? [Allow for answers]
- How did Elisha respond? [He wanted to bless her in some way. He found out that the woman did not have a son and told her that in one year she would have a son.]
- Was Elisha correct? [Yes]
This woman and her husband knew that Elisha was a man of God. In those days, many people had turned to idols. They worshipped statues of different things and called them gods. This woman obviously worshipped the one true God, and trusted in Him alone. She knew Elisha was a prophet, a messenger of the one true God. She trusted Elisha.
- How did the woman show she trusted God and His messenger, Elisha? [When her little boy died, she went straight to Elisha, because she knew he would pray to God for her little boy.]
- When the woman left quickly to go get Elisha, what did she do with her son’s body? [Put him on Elisha’s bed]
- Do you think that is what was usually done with a body? [Allow for answers; They probably would have begun preparing him for burial.]
It seems that the woman trusted Elisha that he could pray to God to revive her son. She said she would not leave Elisha, so he had to come back with her. She trusted that if God wanted to, He could bring her son back from the dead. Maybe that’s why she put him on Elisha’s bed. She was expecting and trusting that God, through Elisha His prophet, would wake her little boy up.
Notice how Elisha trusted God, too. He went with the woman as fast as he could, immediately went up to the room, and prayed to God to intercede and to return the little boy to life. God showed him as he prayed what to do to bring the little boy back to life.
- Did he come back to life all at once? [No, first he started getting warm, then finally he sneezed, and woke up.]
Sometimes God does miracles all at once; other times He uses a process to do a miracle.
[Consider Mark 7:31-37, Mark 8:22-26, and John 9:1-38 for some examples where Jesus heals using a process, not immediately. Using one or more of these for examples of how God uses a process helps relate this Old Testament story to the gospel. Ask:]
- How many times did the little boy sneeze? [Seven times!]
- Have you ever sneezed that many times? [Allow for answers]
- What did the woman in this Bible event and Elisha have in common? [They both believed in the one true God. They both trusted God.]
- What does it mean to trust? [Allow for answers]
In the dictionary it states that trust means a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.
[Turn to your volunteer and swish the cup around their head.]
(Say the volunteer’s name) showed trust in the strength of this chair and its ability to hold him/her up. The Shunammite woman and Elisha both showed trust – belief that God was reliable, that He was able to heal the little boy, and that He had the strength to overcome death. They knew that no man-made god could do this.
We want to see what kind of trust (volunteer name) has in my words. Remember I told him/her that I was going to pour this cup of water over their head, and they wouldn’t get wet.
[Ask the volunteer:]
- Do you believe me when I say you will not get wet? [Allow for the answer; If they are a child who is really fearful, and suddenly doesn’t want to volunteer, let them sit down, but let them pick another volunteer.)
[After the volunteer answers, say: “Here we go!” Turn the cup upside down. The gel powder will have absorbed the water and should stay stuck in the bottom of the cup. After a reaction from the volunteer and class, turn the cup quickly right side up. Thank the volunteer for trusting you then explain the trick.]
Elisha, as God’s prophet, went to God for the Shunammite woman. The woman trusted Elisha and so she trusted the One True God. Elisha was an example of a mediator, someone who goes between two people.
We have a mediator, too. His name is Jesus. When we decide to follow Jesus, He then goes between us and God. Because of our sin, we have a broken relationship with God the Father. But when we look to Jesus, believe that He died for our sins and rose again, and repent, our faith heals that broken relationship. God does not see our sin. Instead, He sees Jesus. Jesus goes between us and God.
Because Jesus is our mediator, we can now go straight to God on our own without having to have a prophet, priest, or pastor go for us. Jesus opened the way to God for us through His death and resurrection. (See Mark 15:38, Luke 22:45)
We can be trustworthy like Elisha. When people watch us show honesty and integrity, we can show them Who God is.
- What do we trust God for each day? [Allow for answers; examples: food; forgiveness; friendship; family; love from God; remind the children about The Lord’s Prayer]
- What can we trust God for in our future? [Allow for answers; examples: God has a plan for each person; eternity with Him]
Some people say, “You may be the only Jesus someone sees today.” This is true. People cannot see Jesus with their eyes, but they can see what you do for Jesus. You can be a mediator like Elisha! And when you show love and care, and people trust you, then they might choose to trust in Jesus, too.
What is God saying through Elisha? God uses His people to bring other people to Him. Because of Elisha’s kindness and friendship, a woman chose to believe in the power of the One True God.
Worship and Educational Videos for Elisha and the Shunammite Woman: