When I set out to write a children’s sermon on John 6:1-21, the first thing I have to do is get over myself.
If you haven’t picked it up from reading my children’s sermons, and the meditations on the Gospel texts from the last three years, I often think the lectionary is kind of odd.
So what’s odd about doing a children’s sermon on John 6:1-21? This passage is John’s version of the stuff the lectionary chopped out of last week’s section of Mark.
Leaving out Mark’s version and reading John’s instead grates against my sense of the literary coherence of Mark’s Gospel.
Maybe the better approach to getting more of John in our preaching is what my dear friend and former colleague Tim Slemmons did. He created a whole fourth year, “Year D,” for the lectionary. He built it out of John’s Gospel and other good stuff the lectionary left out of years A, B, and C. (You can pick up a copy on Amazon through this affiliate link if you want to check it out.)
End of rant.
Writing a children’s sermon on John 6:1-21, the best choice is to choose one of the two main stories which the text includes. One is the feeding of the 5000. The other is Jesus walking on the water.
Both are great, but with kids you just have to pick one and stick to it.
In my Monday Meditation on this text I focused on the walking on water bit. (You can see it here.)
For the kids, I chose the part with the kid in it.
(By the way, if you use this one, when you get to where Jesus took, blessed, broke, and gave the bread, I highly recommend you make the motions with your hands as if you had a loaf of bread.)
A children’s sermon on John 6:1-21
Hello kids! Welcome! I’m so glad you are here today. Thank you for coming up for the children’s sermon.
I want to tell you a story about something that happened to Jesus and his friends.
Jesus had been teaching in Jerusalem. While he was there, he also healed a man who hadn’t been able to walk for thirty eight years. That’s a long time.
Well the man Jesus healed was so excited he told everybody what Jesus had done for him. And pretty soon a whole lot of other people came, hoping Jesus would help them too.
Jesus and his friends were just leaving Jerusalem to go to another town, a place called Capernaum. But the whole crowd decided to follow them.
Well, by the time they all got to Capernaum it was late in the day.
A Hungry Crowd
Jesus said, “Hey guys, do you hear that sound?”
“What sound?” asked Peter.
“Shhh!” Jesus said. “Everybody listen.”
So Jesus’ friends were very quiet. Then they heard it:
“Rumble, rumble, rumble!”
“Hear that?” asked Jesus?
“Sorry!” said John. “I think that’s my tummy rumbling.”
“Mine too!” said Nathaniel. “I’m kind of hungry.”
“It’s not just you,” said Jesus. “Look at all these people who followed us from Jerusalem! None of them has had a bite to eat all day.”
“Wow!” said Philip. “There must be, what, 5000 people!”
“Yep,” said Jesus. “That’s a lot of rumbling tummies. I have an idea: Philip, why don’t you go buy everybody some food?”
“Come on, Jesus,” said Philip. “We don’t have that kind of money. If we all emptied our pockets we couldn’t buy enough for everyone to get a tiny bite of bread!”
Now Jesus had an idea, but he wanted the disciples to figure out what to do.
“Hmm…” he said. “That’s a problem. Anybody have any ideas? I mean we can’t let all these people starve.”
The disciples all looked down at their feet. They were afraid that if Jesus caught their eye he would ask them to solve the problem.
A Kid With Bread & Fish
But then Andrew piped up. “Hey Jesus! I just was talking to this kid from the crowd. He had a basket with, like, five loaves of barley bread.”
Peter scowled at Andrew. “That’s not gonna solve anything!” he said. Peter was Andrew’s older brother, and sometimes older brothers can be a bit critical.
“Well,” said Andrew, “I thought they looked pretty tasty. Plus he has two fish.”
“Andrew,” scolded Peter, “that’s a totally dumb idea. If you can’t think of a way to feed 5000 people, just be quiet.”
“Andrew,” said Jesus, sort of ignoring Peter, “could you bring that kid to me?”
“Sure” said Andrew, and he did.
Jesus squatted down to kid level. His big brown eyes were smiling. “Wow!” he said, “Looks like you’ve got some good food there.”
And the kid said, “Yeah, my mom sent me to the market for bread and fish. I was on my way home—but I heard about you, so I came to listen.”
“That’s great,” said Jesus. “Do you think maybe I could borrow your basket of groceries for a minute? We’ve got some very hungry people here.”
“Well,” said the kid, “I don’t know. My mom might get mad if I don’t bring our food home.”
Then Jesus whispered something in the kid’s ear, and the kid’s eyes grew big and wide.
“Really?” asked the kid.
“Really,” said Jesus, “I promise.”
An Unexpected Feast
So Jesus took the basket of bread and did what you’ve seen the pastor do every time we have communion.
- He took the loaves.
- He blessed the bread with a prayer.
- He broke the bread into pieces.
- And he gave out the pieces for the people to eat.
But as they passed the bread around something very surprising happened. The more pieces people broke off to eat, the more bread was still there to pass around.
Pretty soon, all 5000 people were full, and nobody’s tummies were rumbling.
Then Jesus made an announcement.
“Okay everybody, thanks for coming! I don’t want any of this good bread to go to waste. Could you please help collect all the pieces? This kid here is going to take them all home.”
So they collected all the pieces—and thy filled up twelve big baskets.
The kid was very surprised. “Hey!” he said, “There’s more food here than before we started eating!”
“That’s right,” said Jesus. “That’s how it works in the Kingdom of heaven.”
“But how am I going to get twelve baskets of food home to my mom?”
“Well,” said Jesus, “I just happen to have twelve very good friends here. They can each carry one for you. Can you show them the way?”
And off they went.
- I wonder what the disciples thought when they realized Jesus expected them to feed 5000 people.
- I wonder how that kid felt when feeling he realized his little bag of groceries had become such an amazing feast.
- I wonder if you’ve ever been to a church potluck where so many people ate but there was still so much left over.
- I wonder if you’ve ever been surprised when you gave something very small and it turned out to be something very big to someone else.
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.
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