Category Archives: Parables

End of Summer Sermons

This is a summary of the children’s sermons for the coming weeks at the end of summer.

As we near the end of summer the children’s sermons are about wisdom, faith, perseverance, and providence.

Jesus teaches with parables on the kingdom. He tells that people must act on the truth they understand in Seeds that Grow. He prophesies that evil will be removed from the world upon his return in Wheat and Weeds. Solomon makes a humble request to know right from wrong in Solomon’s Wisdom.  Jesus demonstrates that he can multiply our resources when we offer to him in faith in Feeding the 5000.  Peter shows we can do impossible things by faith if we keep our eyes on Jesus in Peter Walks on Water. Joseph perseveres through many years of hardships and learns to trust God no matter what his circumstances were in Joseph & the Colorful Coat.  God seeks to find the lost and makes his will known through Moses: Lost and Found.  Moses is called to serve God at the Burning Bush.

The Last Shall Be First

Text: Matthew 20:1-16

Prop: A bag of candy.

Summary: The parable of the laborers illustrates that salvation is free to all. Our response should be one of humility, not resentment to God’s grace.

(Read aloud Matthew 20:16) So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

A story is told of a father that dropped off his son for Sunday School. He didn’t attend church but wanted his son to go. The father’s lack of concern rubbed off on his son. After church he picked him up and asked him what the preacher talked about. The boy replied, “I’m not real sure. A parable about cold people or something.” “What?” the puzzled father said. The boy explained, “Well, the preacher kept saying many are cold, a few are frozen.” (grin)

Somehow I think the boy missed the point of the parable of the laborers. Let’s take a look at it today. Jesus told many stories that helped explain what the kingdom of heaven was like. In this one he said there was a man that needed workers to come and take care of his vineyard, where grapes are grown. He went out early in the morning and hired some to work for a penny a day and they agreed. A few hours later, he saw some men in the marketplace without a job, so he told them to go work in his vineyard and he would pay them what was right. He did the same thing at noon and 3:00 p.m., and hired some late in the afternoon about 5:00 p.m. When sundown came, he called his workers in from the vineyard and told the supervisor to give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first.

When those came that had worked only an hour, he paid them a penny. But when he got to those that had worked all day long, they thought they should receive more, but he paid them a penny also. When they got paid, they murmured against the man. They resented that he had paid those that only worked an hour as much as they got paid after working all day in the heat. But he answered them and told them he was their friend, and they had agreed to work for a penny and they had been paid. He was entitled to do as he pleased with what was his to give, and they shouldn’t be sore with him about it.

Jesus was telling the people around him that salvation was available to everyone, but only a few were going to take him up on his offer. When Jesus died on the cross for our sins, he paid the price for salvation for anyone who believed on him. It is his to give to anyone who comes to him. Some children accept Jesus, and have the joy of working for God for many years. Some people put off accepting Jesus until late in life, even until they are about to die. They only get to serve the Lord a short time. God makes salvation available to us all. For those of us who accept the Lord early on, we should be humble and value that we were chosen to develop a wonderful relationship with our Lord. We should not be resentful of those who genuinely confess Christ as Savior late in life. Now do you think you understand what Jesus was saying? Let’s find out.

Thank you for coming today. I have a bag of candy here. I want you all to line up here in a single file line and I’ll give you all a piece. [Raise your hand and tell them to line up in front of you, and indicate which direction to form the line. After the children are in line, walk to the rear and pass out the candy beginning with the last child in line.) Remember what we learned? So the last shall be first, and the first last. 

©1998 by Jim Kerlin. All rights reserved.

Seeds That Grow

I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old: Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. – Psalm 78:2,3

Text: Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

Props: a clear bag with seeds, a cup with seeds, a cup with rocks and pebbles, a cup with a little soil and many weeds, a cup with rich potting soil.

Summary: The parable of the sower. God wants his word to change our lives and help us grow spiritually into children of God.

Handout: a packet of seeds for each child

Jesus liked to tell stories. He told stories to teach us about God and how to live. Some of these stories are called parables. A parable is a story about something you already understand that is used to explain something spiritual. One story Jesus told was the parable of the person who scattered seeds or the sower.

Let me show you some seeds I brought today. (Show or pass around the clear bag with seeds.) What do seeds need to grow? [soil, water, warmth, sunshine, etc.) Let’s look at each of these cups. Tell me if these seeds will grow in them or not. Here is a cup with nothing in it except the seeds. Will seeds grow in air? (No.) Of course not! The birds will eat them as soon as they find them. Will seeds grow in rocks? (No.) No, they will dry up and die with no soil. What about this cup with soil but a lot of weeds? (No.) No, the weeds will take up all the space the seeds need to grow. Will seeds grow in the rich potting soil? (Yes.) Oh yes! With the proper amount of water and sunshine, the seeds should grow quite well here.

Jesus explained the parable to his followers. He said the soil is like a person’s heart and the seeds are like God’s word (a reading from the Bible, a message about God’s kingdom). When some people hear God’s word, they don’t understand it and the Devil snatches it away before they do. That is like the seeds in the cup that the birds will eat. Some people hear God’s word and get all excited but then give up trying to grow when things get tough. That is like the seeds in the cup of rocks. Some people hear God’s word but get busy with their jobs or trying to earn lots of money instead of doing something for God. That is like the cup full of weeds that take up the space the seeds need to grow. Finally, some people hear God’s word and it totally changes their life. They grow stronger spiritually and do many wonderful things for God in this world. That is like the cup with the rich potting soil.

I have a little packet of seeds for you. (Pass out a packet to each child.) With help from your parents, I hope you will plant your seeds in rich potting soil. Remember as you plant them that God wants his word to change your life and help you grow spiritually into a child of God.

©2002 by Jim Kerlin. All rights reserved.

Bad Boy (Prodigal Son)

Joke: Any child can tell you the sole purpose of a middle name is so he can tell when he is in trouble.

Text: Luke15:11-32

Prop: a poster of the return of the Prodigal Son

Summary: Even when we are bad, God loves us and is waiting for us to ask his forgiveness and come home.

Have you ever been a bad boy or girl? How did you know when you were being bad? Did your parents punish you? Jesus told a parable of a bad boy. It is recorded in Luke 15:11-32. This is what happened in the story.

A man had two sons. The younger son wanted his father to give him his share of the inheritance. The father gave it to him, but he left home and journeyed to a far country and wasted his money on extravagant living and partying. About the time he had spent all his money, none of the crops would grow in the land as a result of a mighty famine. The younger son had nothing to eat, so he went to work as a hired servant. He had a very lowly job: feeding pigs. He barely made enough money to eat. When he came to himself, he realized that even his father’s servants had plenty to eat and were better off than he was. He made up his mind that he would return home and beg the forgiveness of his father, hoping to be taken back as only a hired servant. But as he returned, his loving father was already looking for him to return and saw him when he was yet a great way off. His father ran out to meet him and hugged him.

And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.

But his father, upon hearing these words, restored his son to his estate before he left. He gave him the best robe, a ring signifying his authority as a son, and new shoes on his feet. Then they prepared a feast and had a big party. For this my son was dead, and is alive again, he was lost and is found. Now the older son had been working hard in the field and heard the commotion at the house. He was very angry when he found out what was happening. He had always obeyed his father and had not even been given a small party with his friends. But his father told him, Son, thou are ever with me, and all that I have is thine. He told the older son that it was right to rejoice because his younger brother had changed his ways, he had been forgiven and was alive again.

This story is one of the most well-known of Jesus’ parables and is called the Prodigal Son. I think a better title would be Our Loving Father because the outcome of everything in the story depends on how the father reacts to his wayward son. The father could have refused to even see his son again after he left home and squandered his living. Upon his return, the father could have hired him back as a servant for the rest of his life to teach him a lesson. Instead, we see a loving father that waits for his son to come to his senses, and realize his mistake, and return home.

We have all sinned, or been disobedient to God. Does God hold grudges against us? No, he is merciful and willing to forgive us when we repent. He delights when we come alive again spiritually and come back into fellowship with him. He loves those that obey him too. He is loving and merciful to a sinner that seeks forgiveness. If we have been bad, we need to turn from being bad and return to following God.

©1998 by Jim Kerlin. All rights reserved.

Wheat and Weeds

Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. – Matthew 24:40

Text: Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

Prop: a grain of wheat and a weed (or pictures)

Summary: The parable of the wheat and tares. God will judge between good and evil ones at the end of the world and remove the evil ones.

Look what I brought with me today. (Show the wheat and weeds.) Which of these is a grain of wheat? We make bread from the wheat grains. It is very useful and good. Is this weed good for anything? (No.) It is bad because it takes up valuable space that could be used to grow something good like wheat. It is constantly competing for the same ground that the wheat needs to grow. In a way, you could say the wheat and the weeds are in a game of tug-of-war.

Jesus told a parable about the wheat and weeds. Remember, a parable is a story about something you already understand that is used to explain something spiritual.

(Read Matthew 13:24-30.)

Jesus explained the parable to his followers. This story is like a play with many characters in it. Jesus is the sower. The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the wicked one (Devil). The enemy is the Devil and the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. A reaper is one that cuts and removes. Jesus explained that he would not always allow evil to remain in the world. When he returns to earth to set things right he will send his angels to remove everyone that is an evil doer. The angels will cast them into a furnace of fire. Then the good children of the kingdom will remain and live a wonderful life with God. Jesus will separate the evil ones from the good ones. The tug-of-war will be over and only the good children will have a place in God’s world.

Let us pray. Dear Lord Jesus, help me to be like a grain of wheat, something good and useful in your world. Amen.

Alternate introduction: Use a small rope (a jump rope will do) for a brief tug of war between chosen sides. Explain that today’s story is about how the world has a battle between good and evil that will ultimately be settled by Jesus.

©2002 by Jim Kerlin. All rights reserved.