When you are teaching Sunday School to ten, eleven, and twelve-year-olds one of the problems that you run into is that they either know everything or know nothing, often both. When you have a very familiar story then sometimes you want to find a different angle to come at it from But at that age they are able to understand more abstract concepts and life lessons from an apparently simple story. This is a bit more fun because you can deal conceptually as well as literally.
One facet of this story is that it is the end of the story. The end of what is commonly called The Sermon on the Mount. The Sermon on the Mount is three full chapters long. Matthew chapters five through seven are all one sermon by Jesus to the multitudes. It can be divided into several sections and is filled with advice on personal life, personal life towards God as well as dealing with human interactions. To do the lesson the way I did you will want a good-sized collection of Duplos and a similar quantity of average wooden building blocks. I have used sandbox sand and a large rock and even a cinder block before in different age groups but a regular tabletop worked nicely. A good rule of thumb is to use what you have available to you and practice, practice, practice.
A largish flat Duplo to start can be the Beatitudes. A good, solid, basic teaching about the rewards for various lifestyles. The sermon moves on to being the salt of the earth and lighting a candle on a hill. As you are going through the sermon you can start building with the wooden blocks, contrasting the opposite lifestyles. I started out making a teetery-tottery building side-by-side to the strong, Duplo building.
Dealing with anger and retaliation, dealing with bad thoughts, dealing with making your righteousness come from the inside where God can see rather than just a plastic display. How and where and why to pray and fast. How to give to the poor and how to save up treasure in Heaven. Worrying about things you have no control over. Building with the Duplos and pointing out how all these teachings interconnect and contrasting them with the building with blocks and making it most precarious. The Golden Rule comes toward the end of the sermon and really boils down the whole crux of the sermon. Jesus had a way of doing this, especially to gainsaying lawyers and Pharisees. In a different place, trying to catch him in his words, as they were wont to do, they asked him what the greatest commandment was. There are a lot of commandments in the Old Testament, how to pick which one? Well, if you are the Author and you are the WORD, the Logos, incarnate, it’s simple common sense. Love God the most and love your neighbor as your self. In other words, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” Which is really a basic, common teaching in most religions (I made a website listing them here).
Of course, during the course of time, if you build precariously enough, the house of wooden blocks will have fallen at least once but probably more while the Duplo house is solid, built on interlocking, interconnecting blocks. I challenged them to read all three chapters, Matthew five through seven on their own and see if the Bible doesn’t say, “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house out of Duplos…“