Did you know that Thanksgiving Day 2013 is also the first day of the Jewish feast of Lights, or Hanukkah? This children’s sermon called Walking with Jesus is a story when Jesus was walking on Solomon’s portico and was approached by the religious and political leaders to ask Him a very important question: are you the Messiah? Read it to find out how he answered them. Shalom and Happy Thanksgiving!
Text: John 14:1-7
Summary: Jesus is the way to heaven.
Prop: A highway map.
Look what I brought with me today. It is a highway map. If you are going on a trip, you need to know how to get there. If you were traveling from one city to another, a highway map would come in handy. You could look at the map, and decide the best roads to travel. If you are going from, say, Raleigh to Charlotte, there are several roads you could take. Each way would get you there. One might be a scenic route, and take longer. Another route on the interstate might be faster.
Did you know that many people do not know how to get to heaven? Unlike traveling from one city to another, there is only one way to heaven. It is from having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The disciples were listening to Jesus tell them that he was going to return to heaven and prepare a place there for them. Jesus said he would return and take them there with him. He let them know that he wanted them to be with him when they died on earth. When a person who trusts in Jesus as Lord dies, the spirit leaves the body and goes to be with Jesus in paradise. Jesus said to the believing thief next to him on the cross, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise. (Luke 23:43) Jesus told the disciples that they knew where he was going and the way to get there.
But poor doubting Thomas was puzzled. He said to Jesus Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? He didn’t know where Jesus was going or how to get there.
(Read John 14:6]
Jesus told them that he was the only way to the Father in heaven. He stated plainly that he was the way, the truth, and the life. As God’s only Son, Jesus has been given power and authority over all of his creation. He is the true God. He gives life to all of us. When Jesus declared that no man cometh unto the Father, but by me he made it plain that there was only one way to heaven and he was it. Many false religions in the world today claim to be the way to heaven. It isn’t Mohammed or any other great prophet that holds the keys to heaven. Jesus is the only way.
On your next trip or vacation, when your mother or father looks at the highway map, remember this lesson today. Jesus is the way to heaven.
©1998 by Jim Kerlin. All rights reserved.
Text: Matthew 17:1-9; 2 Peter 1:16-18
Prop: A Power Ranger toy or poster of Power Rangers
Summary: Power Rangers “morph” or change into super heroes. Jesus revealed his glory as the Son of God to three disciples.
Look what I brought with me today. Do you know what it is? [a Power Ranger] When the boys and girls that make up the Power Rangers are at school, no one knows that they can morph (or change) into super heroes. They just seem like ordinary boys and girls. Today I want to tell you the story about the time Jesus morphed. He showed himself in all his majesty and glory.
One day Jesus took three of his disciples to a high mountain to be alone with them and pray. He took Peter, James, and John. James and John were called the “sons of thunder” by Jesus. All three were bold and unafraid to tell the truth to others. Little did they realize that Jesus was about to reveal himself to them as he never had before. They had seen him perform mighty miracles. Peter had confessed Jesus as God’s “anointed one,” the Christ. Now Jesus was going to be seen for who he was, God’s Son, in all his power and glory.
(Read Matthew 17:1-3) Jesus went up the mountain to pray. And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering. (Luke 9:29) And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow. (Mark 9:3a) Jesus morphed. He was not changing because some heavenly light was shining down from heaven on him. His appearance changed because his true spirit flashed out from within in a radiant splendor. He appeared as the only real super hero we have, the Son of God. These three disciples were amazed and afraid.
Wow! They saw Moses and Elijah, who represented the law and the prophets, talking to Jesus. Remember who Moses and Elijah were? They had lived many hundreds of years before Jesus was born on earth. Peter knew he was seeing a vision from heaven. Moses and Elijah told Jesus he would die when he went to Jerusalem [Luke 9:31]. Then, they vanished!
Then Peter must have felt he needed to make a speech about this important event, so he started asking Jesus about building a memorial, with three tabernacles for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. Peter was always speaking up at the wrong time. Just then, a brilliant cloud came down and covered them and the three disciples fell to the ground in fear.
(Read Matthew 17:5) They heard God the Father tell them that Jesus was his Son, and to listen to whatever he had to say. As Jesus’ followers today, we must listen to what Jesus says. We do this when we obey what is written in the Bible, and when we pray. Later in Peter’s life, he told everyone that this event really took place [2 Peter 1:16-18].
Jesus told the three disciples as they came down the mountain not to tell anyone what they had seen until he had risen from the dead. It was to be a secret. The three men wondered what he meant about rising from the dead. Later, after Jesus rose from the grave, they understood. This story isn’t a secret anymore. We can tell everyone we know that Jesus is the Son of God, and that he is the greatest Power Ranger in the whole, wide world.
Alternate Introduction: Some people feel Power Rangers portray violence. If you are among them, please use an example of a caterpillar changing into a butterfly, going through metamorphosis.
©1998 by Jim Kerlin. All rights reserved.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers are the exclusive property of Saban Entertainment Inc.
Text: John 6:30-35
Prop: oyster crackers or poster above.
Summary: Jesus is the source of eternal life.
Do you remember how the children of Israel were fed while they wandered in the wilderness? [Listen for answers.) God fed them manna. The word manna meant “what is it?” because that’s what they asked when they first saw it. It was probably similar to a small round cracker. [Show oyster crackers.) We are not sure, but it was small. They would have to gather it every morning because it only lasted for a day (Give us this day our daily bread). This was a great sign of God’s presence with them and how he provided for them.
Jesus had performed a mighty miracle in Feeding the 5000 and the next day some of the people who had eaten of the loaves and fish had found him.
(Read John 6:30-35.)
These people wanted to see another miracle in order to believe Jesus. They gave him the example of manna as a sign from God. Jesus compared himself to manna and said that he was the true bread from heaven. He tried to explain that anyone who believed on him as God’s Son would never die. He said they would never hunger or thirst. Jesus is the bread of life. If you accept Jesus as your Savior, you will live forever.
Now let me ask you a question: If I told you I had something you could eat, and you would live forever, would you want it? Yes, of course you would. When you eat something, you take it inside of you, your body digests it, and it becomes a part of you. That is what happens when you ask Jesus to be your Savior. You ask him into your heart, he comes to live inside you (Holy Spirit), and he becomes a part of you for the rest of your life. But that’s the good part! Because God will live forever, so will you! We can be thankful that God has sent Jesus to us as the bread of life.
©1999 by Jim Kerlin. All rights reserved.
Text: John 14:2-6
Prop: a poster of a European castle
Summary: Jesus is preparing a place for us in God’s house.
Have you ever seen a mansion? A mansion is a really big house. It has a lot of rooms in it. I have a picture of Elvis Presley’s Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee. We went on a tour of it through all the rooms, including the Jungle Room where Lisa Marie played as a child. Another mansion I have seen is the Vanderbilt’s Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. That mansion has 250 rooms in it! Today I want to talk to you about the only place in the Bible where the word “mansions” is used.
(Read John 14:2-6.)
In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
The word mansion means “abiding places” or rooms. Jesus was saying his Father’s house had lots of rooms. It is a mansion! There is even more good news. Jesus is preparing a room just for us! He wants us to be with him in heaven. He will come again and personally receive us into heaven one day. He wants us to know that he is God’s chosen way to heaven.
Some people think there are many ways to heaven. Some folks think if they are good and never do anything really bad that they will go to heaven. Other folks think if they follow the teachings of Buddha, Mohammed, or Krishna (prophets of other religions) that they will go to heaven. But these folks are wrong. Jesus said he was the only way to heaven. …no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6) We must accept Jesus as our Savior to go to heaven. It’s that simple. The next time you see a really big house or mansion, remember that God wants to build a special room in his house just for you so you can live with him forever.
©1999 by Jim Kerlin. All rights reserved.
Text: Deuteronomy 6:4; John 14:11,16
Summary: This sermon uses a piece of rope to explain the Trinity.
Prop: a piece of rope with three cords or some twine
Look what I brought with me today. Do you know what it is? [rope] Rope is made of more than one piece of thread. The rope is stronger when the cords are woven in and out among each other. It would not be as strong if it was simply one straight piece. This piece of rope has three cords. Today I want to explain how our God is a trinity.
The word trinity means three in one or threefold. Consider this rope. It has three cords, each equal, separate, but forming one rope. That is how we can try to understand the Trinity of God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. They are all three persons of the one true God.
In Deuteronomy 6:4 the Bible says Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord. At first glance you would think this means there is only one true God. That is correct. There is only one God and all other gods are fakes. There is more to this verse than that. The words for God are used three times (Lord = Jehovah, our God = Elohim, Lord = Jehovah). So even in this verse we are given a clue about the Trinity.
The idea of the Trinity has been shown in the Bible many times. In Genesis 1:26 God says Let us make man in our image. God was speaking of the other members of the Trinity. Again in Genesis 11:7 when God decided to make many languages at the Tower of Babel we read Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. This is God speaking to other members of the Trinity.
Jesus taught us about the Trinity. Listen to these verses. (Read John 14:11,16] Jesus said that he and the Father were one. He also said that he would send the Holy Spirit once he returned to heaven. He also commanded us in Matthew 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Jesus clearly taught us that all three persons made up the one true God.
The Trinity is not an easy thing for us to understand. So I hope the example of the rope will help you understand how three things are united in one.
©1999 by Jim Kerlin. All rights reserved.
My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? – Psalm 42:2
Text: John 7:37-39; Isaiah 12:3
Prop: a glass of water
Summary: Jesus gives the Holy Spirit to those who believe on him. The Holy Spirit satisfies our thirst for God.
Look at this glass of water. Have you ever been thirsty? (Yes.) This glass of water may satisfy your thirst now, but after a while you will be thirsty again. We need fresh water to live. You probably live near a source of water or a supply of water. As a young boy, I lived in a small town which had many artesian wells. That kind of well is one where the pressure underground pushes the water up and it flows like a fountain naturally. On my school playground I could stop and run over to the fountain anytime to get a drink of water. It was good to get a cool, refreshing drink of water. As years passed, some of the wells dried up. Today our Bible story is about a source of living water that will never dry up.
(Read John 7:37-39.)
Jesus was at the feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem. This was a happy time. Everyone was singing and dancing. They remembered how God took care of them when they lived in booths in the wilderness. It was a custom to draw water from the pool of Siloam on each day of the feast and pour it out as an offering to God. This reminded them that God had given them water when they were thirsty in the wilderness, that he provided rain to water their crops, and that he promised to pour out his Spirit on the people at the coming of the Messiah, or Deliverer (see Joel 2:28). They heard the words of Isaiah 12:3 which says, Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.
It was on the last day of this feast that Jesus stood up and spoke loudly for those who were thirsty to come to him and drink. The people who heard Jesus understood what he was saying. Jesus wants us to understand also. Jesus is God’s Deliverer who was sent to set us free from sin and save us. The living water that Jesus gives us is the Holy Spirit.
After Jesus returned to heaven, he kept his promise and sent the Holy Spirit to those who believed on him. The Holy Spirit is a never-ending source of life. The Holy Spirit within us is what Jesus meant by the rivers of living water (John 7:38). We have a longing for God deep within our souls. This is our thirst for God. God satisfies our thirst for him by giving us the Holy Spirit to live within us when we believe on Jesus.
Let us pray. Dear Lord Jesus, please send your Holy Spirit to guide these children to follow you all the days of their life. Amen.
©2003 by Jim Kerlin. All rights reserved.
In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. – John 7:37-38
Text: Nehemiah 8:1-10
Props: a Bible and birthday party horns
Summary: Nehemiah led the people to obey God’s commandments. We get an inner joy and strength from understanding and following God’s word.
We like to celebrate when a new year begins. It gives us a moment to remember what happened during the past year and to look forward to the future. Today I want to tell you a story about a man of God who helped people find joy from hearing and understanding God’s word.
About 445 years before Jesus was born, a man named Nehemiah led the Hebrew people as they returned to Jerusalem. They were slaves in a far away country called Babylon. Even though they had come home to Jerusalem, they had to start all over again. Buildings were destroyed from the war. They had to build the house of worship, called the Temple. Then they had to build the walls of the city for protection from their enemies. The people were sad and troubled. They wanted to remember the good times from the past. They wanted to be given hope about their future as God’s people. They were thirsty for a word from God.
(Read Nehemiah 8:1-3.)
On the first day of the new year, the people gathered in a public square on the south side of the temple near the Water Gate. This was a place where the whole family could meet. It was not only for men, but also for women and children. The Water Gate was given that name because an underground stream ran nearby that was used to provide water for the temple. The Water Gate led into the temple area where a ritual bath was taken by the priests to make them clean to do their duties in the temple. This area required the use of “living water” or running water, not just water in a pot. Because it was the first day of a new year (Rosh haShanah), the priests blew the ram’s horn, called a shophar (pronounced SHOW-far) to celebrate.
They asked Ezra, the scribe, to read to them from God’s laws written in the books of Moses (Torah). Those are the first five books in our Bible. (Show the Bible.) They did this from sunrise to noon! (And you think our services are too long? ) Since many of the people did not understand their original language of Hebrew, the priests explained it in the language they knew and helped them understand what it meant. When the people realized they had not been following God’s laws, they were sad and cried. But Nehemiah told them not to cry, because God wanted them to be happy on this day. “For the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (verse 10) God would give them the strength and courage to live, even though they were facing tough times. Then the people dedicated themselves to serve God once again and a great renewal (revival) happened.
A few days later they began to observe the Feast of Tabernacles. Now let me take you forward in time. About 475 years later at this feast, the priests were bringing jars of water in to the ritual bath area through the Water Gate. The Lord Jesus stood up and called loudly to the people, saying, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” He promised to give the Holy Spirit to those who believed on him. That would be like a living water cleaning them on the inside! (see John 7:37-38.)
We learn from this lesson that it is not only important to listen to God’s word from the Bible, but also to understand it by listening to our Sunday school teachers as they explain the meaning to us. God’s word is for ALL people. God will give us an inner happiness, “the joy of the Lord,” as we grow spiritually from learning how God would have us live.
Let us pray: Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for the joy you give us when we hear your words from the Bible. Amen.
(Pass out little horns for the children to toot.) Let’s show everyone how happy we are right now: let’s all toot our horns to thank God for a new year!
©2004 by Jim Kerlin. All rights reserved.
I and my Father are one. – John 10:30
Text: John 10:22-30
Prop: a picture of Solomon’s portico
Summary: Jesus claims to be the Son of God.
Do you like to walk for exercise? Perhaps you walk in your neighborhood with your parents. Do you ever walk during winter, when it is very cold outdoors? Today our story is about a time when Jesus took a walk during winter.
During winter the people celebrated the feast of dedication: the dedication of the Temple to its proper use as a place to worship God. It was a celebration of a war victory that allowed them to worship in the Temple again. According to tradition, a single bottle of sacred oil (by a miracle) lasted eight days. The feast later came to be known as Hanukkah, a feast of lights. They would light a candle on each day until all the candles were lit.
It was during this feast that Jesus went for a walk in the temple area in the place called Solomon’s portico. It was a 1000-foot long covered walkway within sight of the Temple. The people were waiting for a war hero to liberate them from the soldiers of Rome. They were looking for a savior, their Messiah, to give them their country back. The very portico he walked upon was once the place where King Solomon ruled Israel nearly 1000 years earlier.
Several men joined Jesus as he walked that day. I wonder if it may have been snowing, or so cold one could see their own breath. The men had a question for Jesus that was bothering them. They wanted to know if Jesus was the Christ, the “anointed One” of God, and they wanted a simple “yes” or “no” answer. Jesus told them plainly that he was and the works of healing and other miracles he had performed were proof that God had sent him.
Jesus explained that his followers understood the truth of what he told them. Jesus said he would give eternal life to those that believed in him. I would think that would have made them glad — imagine being able to live forever because you trust Jesus as your Savior! But his words made these men angry because Jesus made himself equal with God. When Jesus said he was the Son of God they did not believe him.
Today the claims that Jesus made then are still true. He is the Son of God. He is the Savior. We must choose if we will walk with Jesus or not. I hope you will choose a life of walking with Jesus. Let us dedicate ourselves to worship Jesus as our Savior and to follow him.
Let’s pray. Dear Lord Jesus, Help me to follow you and walk with you every day. Amen.
©2006 by Jim Kerlin. All rights reserved.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. – John 5:25
Text: John 5:24-25; 6:47; 11:25-26
Prop: a clock
Summary: Living now. Living forever. In Jesus there is eternal life that begins the moment you believe.
How many of you have learned how to tell what time it is? (Listen to answers.) Look at this clock. What time is it now? (Listen to answers.) Yes, clocks show us what hour it is. In our story today the Lord Jesus tells us about a very special time: the time our life begins and never ends.
(Read John 5:24-25; 6:47.)
Do you understand what Jesus is saying? You don’t have to wait until you die for everlasting life to begin. The moment you accept Jesus as Lord and Savior your eternal life begins — now, here on earth. Jesus says the time is now when those who hear Him speaking to their inner spirit and believe on Him will pass from death to life. If you believe on Jesus you already have a life that will last forever. It isn’t in the future, but the present time.
The clock becomes meaningless for those who are not bound by time. Yet, while on earth, our temporary home, we should make the time we are given here worthwhile. Make each hour and day worth living. Time is running out for some people. We must decide whether or not to trust what Jesus says. The choice is ours. So stop waiting for the resurrection of life. It will come one day. Instead, remember what Jesus told Martha as he was about to raise Lazarus.
(Read John 11:25-26.) Do you believe? Let us pray. Dear Lord Jesus, bless all those here that we may understand and believe. Amen.
©2007 by Jim Kerlin. All rights reserved.