We’ve all been sick before. What happens when you are sick? Can you be with other people when you are sick? Allow children to answer. Help children realize that you may have to stay home from school/church/activities when you are sick, but that they still aren’t totally alone. In our community, when we get sick there are people to help us. Like our parents, or grandparents, doctors and nurses. You usually have to stay home from school/church/activities when you are sick so that you don’t spread germs, but your family is still there to take care of you. But in Jesus time if you were sick you weren’t allowed to be around anyone. You couldn’t be a part of the community anymore.
This week’s bible story is about a man who was sick and wasn’t allowed to be around anyone in his community. He was by himself all the time. I bet he felt really lonely. Let’s read about what Jesus did. Read Mark 1:40-45 from Ralph Milton’s Lectionary Bible Year B. It was a big deal that Jesus stopped and talked to Rufus. It was an even bigger deal that he touched him. Can you imagine being sick and having no one look at you, or talk to you, or touch you at all? No hugs? No smiles? All alone. That would make me very sad. But Jesus stopped and helped Rufus feel better.
Why do you think Jesus asked Rufus not to tell anyone that Jesus had made him feel better? Allow children to answer. This is a tricky question to answer…even for grown-ups, but I’ll tell you what I think. I think that Jesus felt his most important job was to tell people about God’s love. And when people like Rufus started talking about how Jesus made them feel better when they were sick, that was all people could think about. They wanted Jesus to make them feel better too. The story tells us that there were so many people coming to Jesus that he could hardly move sometimes. All those people asking Jesus to make them better made it hard for Jesus to teach about God’s love.
Which makes me think…perhaps the most important part of this story isn’t about how much better Rufus got. I think the really special part is that Rufus was finally able to join his community again. Because he was better he could be around people. Having a community of people in our life is really important. Because he had been sick, Rufus knew what it felt like to be all alone. Now that he is better, I bet he will be more able to help others in his community that feel alone.
That is what Jesus teaches us. To love others in our community. Especially those that feel all alone