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Free Workshop Rotation Model Lessons - Season 2

 A lesson for

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Curriculum > Youth > Year 2 > Lesson 14


  • Introduce at a basic level how to consider the phrase "unclean spirits"
  • Highlight the power of naming as the turning point in the story
  • Talk about the pigs a little bit as unclean food
  • Wrap up with how sometimes what we do as a group of people makes it difficult for an individual to get well


  • Device that allows class to view this video clip (from the movie To Kill a Mockingbird)
  • Same as last class: A game of Yahtzee for every 4 students (you could get away with 5 students per game)
  • Have 5 dice for every 4 students (most dollar stores sell a package of 10 dice for a dollar)
  • Print out a scoring card from this .PDF for each student.



  • We start today’s class with the opening question. One of the teachers will ask the question and then to give you some time to think of an answer, the teacher asking the question will also answer first to give you some time to think.
  • Once the teacher answers the question, we'll go around the circle.
  • When it's your turn, start with your name and then answer the question to the best of your ability.
  • Here's this week's question:  What is something that is yours, is not very expensive, but would make you upset if it was taken away from you?


  • Last week, we started a session about some of the healing stories that happened during Jesus' ministry.
  • Our first story was a two-for-one story. We heard how Jesus healed a woman and brought a girl back to life.
  • In today's story, we see a different kind of sickness and a different kind of healing.
  • We will see a sickness that is more about one's mind and emotions, rather than a physical condition.
  • In today's world, we might describe that situation as mentally ill.
  • But that language and science (of psychology and psychiatry) did not exist in Jesus' time.
  • The language that was used, instead, was to say someone had "unclean spirits."
  • We'll see that the interaction between Jesus and the Gerasene man is pretty intense at first.
  • But there's a turning point in the story, when a name is given to the situation.  
  • To help us think about how names can change a situation, let's watch the following clip from the movie, To Kill A Mockingbird
  • In it, Atticus Finch, a lawyer, is representing a black man in court, who, in that time and place in USA history, was already considered guilty just because of the color his skin
  • The man is being held prisoner in the town's jail.
  • Atticus is standing guard because he knows that some of the people in the town will want to pass their own type of "justice."
  • Atticus is correct about his assumption and is facing a number of men from the town who want to take "justice" into their own hands by killing the prisoner right then and there.
  • That's where this video clip begins with Atticus' children (and their friend) joining him in the middle of the situation.
  • Note: The word Scout uses is "entailment" and it's a legal term that refers to property being passed between people, often after someone dies.
  • Let's see what happen.


ASK – answers are in parenthesis

  • During the first half of the clip, who is being told to leave? (the kids are)
  • Who actually ends up leaving? (the men with guns)
  • What action / thing changes the focus from getting the kids to leave to eventually causing the men to leave? (Scout, the girl, starts talking to the dad of one her friends)
  • Does Scout know the dad's name? (yes)
  • Does she say it? (yes)
  • Does she say the names of other people that the dad knows? (yes)
  • What are your thoughts on why Scout saying his name causes him to leave? (hearing his name seems to remind him of who he is, of his humanity, of the things he does when he's a caring, loving person, aka when he's in his right mind. Also seems to remind him that if he follows through with what he's doing, he'll have to face his son and his son's friend afterwards)  
  • Does it seem like Scout really understands what is going on? (nope, not really)


  • So what we see in the movie clip is that a group of men have their mind set on a thing -- a not very good thing; a thing that they wouldn't normally do.
  • You could even say that because of what and how their mind was set on that thing, they were not in their right mind.
  • The thing that then gets at least one of the men to return to their right mind is by being called by his name.
  • And being reminded of who they were, who they loved, and who they cared about
  • In the following scripture story, we'll see that the Gerasene man is not in his right mind, as well
  • As we read the story, look for the moment where the man starts to return to his right mind
  • I'll give you a hint: Just like in our movie clip, the moment starts with a name.
  • Let's see what happens


Recommend class reads it out loud; one person per verse

Mark 5:1 They came to the other side of the lake, to the country of the Gerasenes. 2 And when he had stepped out of the boat, immediately a man out of the tombs with an unclean spirit met him. 3 He lived among the tombs; and no one could restrain him any more, even with a chain; 4 for he had often been restrained with shackles and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the shackles he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always howling and bruising himself with stones. 6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and bowed down before him; 7 and he shouted at the top of his voice, 'What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.' 8 For he had said to him, 'Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!' 9 Then Jesus asked him, 'What is your name?' He replied, 'My name is Legion; for we are many.' 10 He begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. 11 Now there on the hillside a great herd of swine was feeding; 12 and the unclean spirits begged him, 'Send us into the swine; let us enter them.' 13 So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the lake, and were drowned in the lake.

14 The swineherds ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came to see what it was that had happened. 15 They came to Jesus and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the legion; and they were afraid. 16 Those who had seen what had happened to the demoniac and to the swine reported it. 17 Then they began to beg Jesus to leave their neighborhood. 18 As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed by demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 But Jesus refused, and said to him, 'Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you.' 20 And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed.

ASK – answers are in parenthesis

  • Verse 1, where do Jesus and the disciples land? (the country of the Gerasenes)
  • So, what do you think, are they in Israel anymore? (Nope, they are not)
  • Verse 2, who meets Jesus? (a man with an unclean spirit)
  • Verse 3-5, how does the man with the unclean spirit live? (not very well: he couldn't be restrained, he would hurt himself, he lived among the dead in the tombs)
  • In verse 7, what does the man scream at Jesus? (Why do you torment me?)
  • In verse 8, why, are we told, is the man screaming that at Jesus? (Because Jesus had told the unclean spirit to come out, and…it didn't work)
  • Does it at all surprise you that Jesus was not successful at his first attempt to heal the man?
  • What does Jesus ask the man in verse 9? (what is your name)
  • Does the man answer? (yes)
  • With what name? (Legion)
  • An odd name (it's the name of a Roman military unit), but once the man says the name, does it seem like he functions differently? (yes - he's not running around, he's not bowing, he's not screaming. Instead, he's discussing things with Jesus)
  • In their ensuing discussion, where do Jesus and the man agree to send the unclean spirits? (into a herd of pigs)
  • What do the pigs do after the unclean spirits go into them? (they run down a hill into the sea and drown)
  • Do you find that to be weird or disturbing?
  • Verse 15, what are the people's response to the man's healing? (they are afraid)
  • Verse 17, what do the townspeople tell Jesus to do? (to leave)
  • Does that seem like the correct response to you? Why / why not?


  • There's a lot in this story, so we won't be able to focus on everything that is in it, unfortunately.
  • So for today, let's talk about what the "unclean spirits" part means, the naming of the unclean spirits, and then a little bit about the pigs.
  • As we already discussed before the passage reading, the phrase "unclean spirit" was how the Israelites described a person where something was not right inside of them; that they were not in their right mind
  • This unclean spirit idea also suggested that there something inside of the people who were sick, something that needed to be removed
  • So the way to deal with an unclean spirit, as far as first century Israelites understood it, was to cast out the thing that was making the person be "not in their right mind."
  • In today's story, we are told Jesus tried this approach and it didn't work (verses 7 and 8).
  • But Jesus is not deterred and tries another approach.
  • The other approach that Jesus tries is asking the man what his name is.
  • Which brings us back to the power of language - remember our first few stories where we talked about language and the naming of things? Well guess what!? We're back to it!!!
  • But, instead of giving his name, the man gives a name to his problem.
  • When the man says "Legion," he's saying his problem is big and powerful, just like the Roman army unit (A legion is a unit of 5000 Roman soldiers)
  • And once the man has a name for his problem, that's when his path to being in his right mind really begins - to the point that he's even able to figure out where to put his problems - into some pigs
  • Now, the pigs thing is weird - so some quick background on pigs: Israelites don't eat pigs because God told them that pigs are an unclean food
  • To an Israelite, then, it would make perfect sense that unclean spirits and unclean food would somehow be linked - so why not get rid of both things at the same time, if you could?
  • But another idea associated with the pigs, then, is that community of the Gerasenes is actually part of what is  making the man sick - that their choice of food is making the man sick.
  • To help us think about how the choices a community makes might keep an individual from being healthy, let's do the following activity where the choice of one person will affect the rest of us in the class.


  • We're going to do the exact same activity we did last class - we're going to play a game of Yahtzee
  • However, we're going to make one MAJOR change to the game.
  • One person will be the leader (we will roll the dice and whoever gets the highest one roll of five dice will be the leader) and that leader will goes first every round AND however the leader scores their roll, we must ALL score our rolls the same way.
  • For example, on round one, if the leader scores a full house, that then means we ALL have to try and roll a full house and if we don't get a full house, then we get no points.    :(
  • Or, if the leader scores sixes, then we must all score our roll using sixes for that round
  • As a reminder, here's how the game works other than that one rule change:
  • Yahtzee is a game with five dice and a score card.
  • One player begins by rolling all five dice.
  • After their roll, he or she can decide what dice to set aside and which dice to roll again.
  • Each player has three rolls during their turn.
  • The goal is to get the highest score based on the numbers you rolled
  • There are numerous ways to score your turn - and you will use your score card to determine how to best do this
  • However, you can only use each type of scoring once per game
  • [Pass out scorecards. NOTE: there are printable copies at end of lesson]
  • You'll see that the top portion of the card is simple. Each number has a spot and you simply add up the total for the dice that end up that number.
  • The bottom is a little more complicated and includes a 3 of a kind, 4 of a kind, and a chance (chance being any combination of dice) for the total sum of all of the dice.
  • There is also a "full house" for 25 points, a small straight (4 in a row) for 30, a large straight (five in a row) for 40, and Yahtzee (five of a kind) for fifty.
  • For the lower section, you have to have what's listed in order to get that score: For instance, you have to have three of the same numbers in order to score a "three of a kind"  
  • Usually how you play is that you have a turn for each type of score on the card.
  • But since we're going to play "Follow the leader Yahtzee," we won't get much of a chance to choose our own scoring
  • Depending on time, we'll probably do 3 or 4 total turns
  • Any questions?
  • Let's get started by rolling to see who the leader is, then!



  • How was it to score your roll based on someone else's scoring choices?
  • Would you have had higher scores if you could've scored on your own?
  • So would you say that the choices of the leader made your yahtzee experience less healthy and less enjoyable?
  • Now, I don't want us to think that the community was the only reason the man was sick.
  • But I do want to highlight this idea that sometimes, part of the reason a person might be sick is because of the unhealthy choices a community is making together.
  • But what I want us to really focus on is the same thing we focused on last class: What does Jesus do that we can do too?
  • In this story, Jesus offers help by having a conversation that starts with, "What is your name?"
  • And you know what? Each of us can start a conversation like that.
  • And that's the good news for today


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Mark 5:1-20

The Gerasene Demoniac


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