Writing a children’s sermon on John 17:1-11 brings the same challenges as many other passages of John’s Gospel. Rather than telling stories, John really likes to present long speeches of Jesus. They are theologically rich, but they are complex and abstract.
No story, complex, and abstract — that’s basically three strikes against any children’s sermon!
Add to this the fact that in this passage Jesus is not even talking to the disciples, but to God, and it’s a quandary.
My workaround: I imagine a bit of the narrative that must have happened in that long evening in the Upper Room. The disciples had to talk with Jesus about all those things he said in John 13-17. In this children’s sermon on John 17:1-11 I imagine Jesus explaining a few things about both why he’s praying and what he’s praying about.
Let me know what you think!
You can find my Monday Meditation on this text through this link.
A Children’s Sermon on John 17:1-11
Good morning, kids! I’m so glad to see you this morning. Thank you for coming up to hear the children’s sermon.
Today is the seventh Sunday of Easter. That’s right: we are still celebrating Easter.
On Good Friday, Jesus died on a cross — but the very next Sunday God made him alive again. The fact that Jesus is alive is so wonderful, so amazing, that every year we celebrate it for 50 days.
The Upper Room
Today’s story from the Gospel actually comes from before Easter — just before Jesus went to die on the cross.
That Thursday night, Jesus had dinner with his very good friends. He talked with them about all kinds of things. Here’s how I imagine it.
After dinner, Mary Magdalene said “Oh, Jesus. We’re going to miss you so much!”
Then she started to cry. In fact, a lot of Jesus’ friends started to cry right about then.
“Yeah,” said Thomas. “I doubt we’ll be able to do anything without you here with us.”
“Right,” said Peter. “I’ll just go back to being a fisherman. Matthew will probably go back to being a tax collector. I guess we’ll all just drift apart.”
“I’m going to miss all of you!” said John.
Then everybody started crying.
“Oh, come on, you guys,” said Jesus, gently. “It’s gonna be okay, you know. I’ve already told you you’re going to see me again. Plus I told you that once I go, I’ll send the Holy Spirit to be with you forever!”
Mary sobbed “But it will (sniff) never be the sa-a-a-ame!”
“That’s true,” said Jesus. “It won’t be quite the same. But it’s gonna be okay. I’m gonna pray for you.”
“I doubt that will do any good,” saidThomas.
“Yeah,” said John. “How will just praying for us help?”
“Prayer can help a lot,” said Jesus. “God hears you when you pray. And God can always help. God can do anything! Now sit tight, ‘cause I’m gonna pray for you.”
Praying for Himself
Jesus stood up, raised his arms, and looked up to heaven. And then he started praying — right out loud, with his friends listening.
“Oh Father! I have so much I want to talk to you about! I’m worried, Father, and kind of sad. I know this is my last night before I die.
“You know what I want? I want you to make it like it used to be.
“Remember how it was before we made the world? You were there, and I was there, and we were shining with light and joy! Could you make it like that again?
“I’ve finished all that you sent me to do. I taught the people you sent me. Now I want to shine with your light and joy again!”
Then Jesus felt someone tapping on his shoulder.
“Excuse me!” said Mary. “Jesus?”
“Um,” said Jesus, looking at her. “Do you think this could wait a bit, Mary? I’m busy praying.”
“I know, Lord,” Mary said, “but you said you were going to pray for us. We noticed you’re just praying for yourself.”
“Ah,” said Jesus, “I see. Well, I will be praying for you in a minute. Right now my heart is so sad — I need to ask my Father to help me too.”
“But isn’t that kind of selfish?” asked Mary.
“It’s about myself,” said Jesus, “but that doesn’t make it bad. In fact it’s good to pray for yourself. God always wants to know what’s troubling you. God really loves you! You should give it a try sometime. Now, if you’ll excuse me for a minute…”
“Oh, right!” she said, and she sat down with the others.
Praying for His Friends
Jesus lifted up his arms and his eyes again, and started praying again.
“Oh Father, I’m worried about the people you gave me to take care of. Could you help them please?
“They’re going to miss me, I know. They need you and me too. Could you help them stay really really close to us when I’m gone?
“You know how close you and I are. It’s like you’re inside of me and I’m inside of you. I want you to help them be that close to us. Help them to have me inside them always.
“But they’re also afraid they’ll forget about each other. So help them stay close to each other too. Help them to love each other so much that they are as close to each other as you and I are.
“Please God? Amen.”
Well, that’s the kind of thing Jesus prayed after his last supper with his very special friends.
He asked God to help him as he did all the hard things that were coming.
And he prayed that his friends would stay close to him.
Plus he prayed that they would stay really close to each other.
I wonder if you’ve ever talked to God about things that worried you?
I wonder how God answers Jesus’ prayer for you to grow closer to him?
I wonder how God answers Jesus’ prayer for all of us to grow closer to each other?
You are, of course, free to use this children’s sermon, or adapt it as you find most useful. But, if you use it, please do one (or more!) of the following.
- You can let me know that you are using it, either in the comments below, or using the contact form above.
- You can put a little notice in your church bulletin that your children’s sermon is adapted from one published on GaryNealHansen.com.
- You can support my work over on Patreon. (Just $1 per month brings my children’s sermons straight to your inbox about two minutes after they go live. And every little bit keeps me going…)
Joyce Howard says
I really like this way of teaching this . I’m borrowing it for my children’s time.
Gary Neal Hansen says
Come back soon — I have children’s sermons for most Sundays in the lectionary, and am filling in what’s missing.
I’m adapting this into a skit for the kids to read aloud as part of our service this morning. Thanks!
Susan, Riverdale Fellowship
Gary Neal Hansen says
I hope it goes really well. Come by again soon…