(Doorpost Film Project, 2009)
Every life can be redeemed by God and filled with purpose.
The Butterfly Circus
The Butterfly Circus
is set in the height of the Great Depression and tells the story of a kind and generous ringleader (Eduardo Verástegui) from a renowned circus as he guides his entertaining troupe through the devastated American landscape, lifting the spirits of impoverished people along the way.
During their travels they discover a man named Will (Nick Vujicic) without any limbs at a competing carnival’s sideshow. They reach out to the “man who God Himself has turned His back upon,” and soon, the outcast of a man joins their circus.
The limbless man spends the rest of his days with the loving entertainers of The Butterfly Circus
trying to discover how God has enabled him to be a blessing to others.
Introducing the Clip:
I want to show you a short film tonight; it’s not a movie clip. It’s called The Butterfly Circus, and it stars Nic Vujicic, an Australian who was actually born without any arms or legs. You may have even seen his videos circulating the web. Check out this dramatization of him moving from a sideshow freak in a circus to a person who God uses to bless others.
The short film is available for free here: http://thebutterflycircus.com/short-film/
Will’s life was changed when he began to see that God could use him as he was. He was emptied of his hatred and filled with hope. He learned to overcome his challenges and seek to serve others. The lesson that Will learned through his new friends was that God can redeem anyone, fill them with purpose, and use them to help lead others.
Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.
CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.
- AROUND THE CIRCLE: As we begin, let’s all take a moment to share our names and our favorite aspect of the circus.
- ASK A FEW: How do you think Will felt when he was part of the sideshow in the first circus?
- ASK A FEW: The barker introduced Will as “the man whom God Himself has turned His back upon.” Do you think that’s true?
- ASK A FEW: In the film, Will stowed away in Mr. Mendez’s Butterfly Circus. What differences did Will discover between the two circuses?
- ASK A FEW: How did Will change after he joined The Butterfly Circus?
- ASK A FEW: In what ways did some of the other circus performers change when they joined The Butterfly Circus?
- ASK A FEW: In what ways did Will begin to positively affect the lives of others?
- ASK A FEW: Through Mr. Mendez’s love and kindness, Will and the others became changed people. Do you think God can truly do that with us?
Read the following passage:
ASK A FEW: Zacchaeus was a tax collector. What do you know about tax collectors from Jesus’ day? (Leader: Let the students share what they know, but then fill in any gaps for them. Basically, a tax collector was a Jewish person who worked for the Roman government…the same government who had conquered the Jews. A tax collector was hated for two reasons. First, he collected taxes from his Jewish brothers and sisters and gave it to the Romans. Second, because while he was collecting the legitimate tax, he would often “overcharge” the people, and just keep the money for himself. That’s exactly what Zacchaeus was doing.)
ASK SOMEONE: What was Zacchaeus’ reputation amongst those living in Jericho?
ASK SOMEONE: What did Jesus say to Zacchaeus in verse 5 and what did He mean by it?
ASK A FEW: What do you think Jesus believed about Zacchaeus?
ASK SOMEONE: When Jesus accepted Zacchaeus and showed the crooked tax collector some love, what did Zacchaeus do as a result? (Leaders: Point the students to verse 8 where Zacchaeus promises to repay anyone he had robbed from.)
ASK A FEW: How do you think Zacchaeus’ life changed after he met Jesus?
ASK A FEW: Will’s life was changed after he met Mr. Mendez and joined The Butterfly Circus. Zacchaeus’ life changed after he met Jesus. How has your life changed since you met Jesus?
AROUND THE CIRCLE: What will you do this week to show others that you are living a changed and redeemed life?
Luke 19:1-10 (NIV)
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
All the people saw this and began to mutter, "He has gone to be the guest of a 'sinner.'
But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount."
Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost."
Tonight we watched a heart-touching story about a man who moved from ridicule and desperation to hope and leadership. Because someone else loved him – Mr. Mendez in this example – Will was able to live a life that was completely different from the one he’d always known.
We also read a story from the Bible about a man in a similar condition to Will. His name was Zacchaeus and he was despised by everyone in his town, mainly because he robbed from them in the name of government taxes. But when Jesus met him, Zacchaeus’ life was changed forever.
Both Will and Zacchaeus were redeemed by others, and their lives looked like it from that day forward.
The Bible is filled with other true stories about God redeeming people who have no hope. He rescued Moses from obscurity at the Burning Bush and put him in charge of the most famous exodus of all time. He liberated Joseph out of a dungeon and made him second in command of the largest empire on the planet at the time. Throughout history, God has pieced back together the lives of those who have been broken.
What about you?
If you have been redeemed by God – changed forever – let me ask you a question: Does your life show it? In other words, are you living your life the way God wants you to in light of His incredible sacrifice to rescue you? If not, let’s talk about why later one-on-one.
If you have never been redeemed by God, but know what it’s like to live like Will or Zacchaeus, then tonight you can experience God’s redemption. Just ask God to forgive you of your sins, and promise to live for Him for the rest of your life. Then your life will begin to look like that of Will’s and Zacchaeus’.
Living a redeemed life is wonderful. If for whatever reason you aren’t living one right now, let’s talk privately after we close in prayer.
Close in Prayer