Here’s a children’s sermon on John 20:1-18. It’s one of two options for the Gospel reading Easter morning in Years AB and C of the Revised Common Lectionary — though you can use it any time it fits the need of your worship service.
Or read it to the kids as a bedtime story. Then let me know how it goes!
I posted a children’s sermon on the other assigned Gospel for Easter in Year A last time around. You can find it here. And I have a Monday Meditation on the same text, and you can find it here.
A children’s sermon on John 20:1-18 could go a number of ways. But Mary Magdalene is so central in John’s telling that I’ve focused on her.
A Children’s Sermon on John 20:1-18
Good morning kids! Happy Easter! I’m so glad you are here in worship this morning. Today is the most important day in the whole year for Christians. It’s Easter!
If you came to church last Friday, you know we told a hard, sad, story. On Friday we told about how Jesus was arrested, and they hung him on a cross with big nails. On Friday we told how Jesus died.
When someone you know dies, its the saddest thing ever.
All of Jesus’ friends were so, so sad when he died. They were sure they would never see him again. They missed him so, so much.
But Jesus had always been full of surprises.
The Store Rolled Back
This is a story about one of Jesus’ very good friends. Her name was Mary Magdalene. Mary Magdalene was very, very sad that Jesus died.
Now it was early Sunday morning. It was so early on Sunday morning that it was still dark outside.
Jesus’ good friend Mary Magdalene was so sad about Jesus’ death that she hadn’t slept all night.
Finally she thought “I’ll just go to Jesus’ tomb. I’ll probably just cry and cry. But maybe I’ll feel closer to him if I’m there.”
So off she went. Even though it was still dark, she walked all the way to the tomb where she’d seen them bury Jesus.
Now the tomb where Jesus was buried was kind of like a cave carved out of the rock. There was a low opening, like a doorway. After they put Jesus’ body inside, they had rolled a big stone against the opening, like a permanent door.
So that’s what Mary Magdalene expected to see in the early morning twilight. But when she got there, she saw that somehow the big stone door had been rolled away. Mary was shocked!
“Who would do such a thing?” she wondered.
Finding the Other Disciples
Well, I think she must have taken a quick look inside the tomb. It was empty! Then she ran to find the other disciples.
When she found Peter and John she cried, “Come quick! Come to the tomb! Somebody took the Lord away!”
They asked Mary to show them the way, because on Friday, only the women had followed to see where Jesus was buried. So Mary, Peter, and John all went running to the tomb.
When it was in sight, Mary pointed it out. “That one up ahead!” she said.
So Peter and John ran. John was faster, so he got there first. He bent down to look through the door, and the tomb was empty. Then Peter went right inside, and John followed Peter in.
And sure enough: Jesus was gone. They found the cloths that had been wrapped around his body. They found the little cloth that had covered his head. But Jesus was not there at all.
So Peter and John went home.
Mary Sees Angels
But Mary Magdalene stayed. She couldn’t stop the tears. She missed Jesus so much. And she was so angry that someone would dare to steal his body!
She was also curious. Before, she had barely glanced into the empty tomb. Now she bent down and looked carefully inside. There were the grave clothes. But there was also a surprise: There were two people in the tomb!
One was at the head of where Jesus had lain. One was at the foot. Their clothes shone like the sun!
“They must be angels!” she thought.
The angels were smiling. And she could never remember for sure whether they were laughing or singing. Mary couldn’t believe that anyone, especially an angel, could be happy right now.
But when they turned to Mary and saw her tears, they asked “Why are you so sad?”
All she could think to say through her tears, was “Someone took my Lord away! I can’t find him anywhere!”
Mary Sees Jesus.
Then a kind of funny thing happened.
Like I said, Mary had her head down low to look into the tomb. As she turned her head, she saw some feet standing by her. A man’s feet.
“Who would be here in the garden of tombs so early?” she wondered. “It must be the gardener.”
“Why are you so sad?” the man asked. “Who are you looking for?”
“I’m looking for the man who was buried in this tomb Friday,” she said, “Did you take him? I’ll come take him back.”
Then the man said “Mary!”
When he said her name the world seemed to spin. She would know that voice anywhere! That was Jesus! But Jesus was dead! How could he be alive?
Finally she looked him in the eye — and it was true! Of course it was Jesus!
“Oh teacher!” she cried out, and she threw open her arms to give him the biggest hug ever.
A Strange Mission
But for some reason Jesus stepped back.
“Don’t hug me!” he said. “I’m going up to be with my father. But I have a very important job for you, Mary.”
“What is it?” she asked.
“Go and find all my friends,” said Jesus. “Actually we’re more than friends now. We’re family. Tell them that I’ve gone to be with my God — and he’s their God too. I’m going to be with my Father — and now he’s their Father too.”
So Mary Magdalene went and found all of Jesus’ friends.
“I’ve seen the Lord!” she said, crying. But this time the tears were from joy. “He’s alive!”
- I wonder why Jesus wouldn’t let Mary hold him?
- I wonder why Mary didn’t recognize Jesus until she heard him call her by name?
- I wonder if you and I will ever hear Jesus call us by name?
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…)
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