Well, with a children’s sermon on John 6:56-69 we come to the end of the lectionary’s five-week journey though this chapter. (You can read my regular meditation on this passage here.)
Perhaps the hard thing about a children’s sermon on John 6:56-69 is just that fact: we’ve been talking about this chapter, with it’s many aspects of Jesus as Bread of Life, for a month already. What’s new to say?
I want to emphasize the one new thing that happens here. However, it’s not something easy to present in kid-sized portions. And as I look at it, it seemed to take most of the sermon to build up a context for the one new thing. Oh well.
You can let me know if you think I got it or not! Comments below or email via the contact form are always extremely welcome.
A Children’s Sermon on John 6:56-69
Good morning kids! Welcome! I’m so glad you are here today. Thanks for coming up for the children’s sermon.
This week’s story from the Gospel picks up right where last week’s story left off. In fact, the last bit of last week’s story is the first part of this weeks’ story.
Maybe you remember what’s been happening.
- Four weeks ago, Jesus took five loaves of bread and fed over 5000 people.
- Three weeks ago, the people he fed followed him across a lake for more bread. But Jesus told them that HE is the bread of life and they should be looking for more of HIM instead.
- Two weeks ago, Jesus told the people that the only way anyone would come and follow him is if God, his Father, did something to make them want to follow him.
- And last week, people started to get confused: Jesus said the only way they would find life is to eat his body. Some of them thought maybe they should come right up and chomp on his leg.
So in this week’s story, Jesus is still talking about being the Bread of Life. And the people are starting to grumble about the things he says.
The Bread from Heaven
“Really!” Jesus said. “I’m the Bread of Life! God sent me down from heaven for you to eat!”
Somebody said, “Oh yeah, we had that once before. I mean not us, but our grandparents. When they came out of Egypt and were wandering in the wilderness.”
And somebody else said, “Um, that wasn’t our grandparents. That was way before our grandparents. That was like our great, great, great, great—“
Then the first guy interrupted, “Okay it was a long time ago. My point is we had bread from heaven before. They were wandering in the wilderness and God made manna drop down. Every morning they picked up the manna and made food out of it. It was like bread. Right?”
Better than Manna
“Right,” said Jesus. “That was the OLD bread from heaven. I’m the NEW bread from heaven. I’m WAY better than that old bread from heaven.”
Then one guy started to get upset. He said, “Now you just wait one minute, Jesus. When God sent manna to our great, great, great, great, great—ouch! Why did you poke me?”
“You were stuck,” his neighbor said. “Anyway, you don’t know how many ‘greats’ it was.”
“Alright,” said the grumpy guy. “When God seat manna to our, um, long ago relatives—“
“That’s better,” his neighbor said.
“—that bread from heaven was a Very Holy Miracle. It’s in the BIBLE. How can you say you are better than a Very Holy Miracle? In the BIBLE?”
“Easy peasy,” said Jesus. “Your great great whatever ancestors ate manna—bread from heaven. Great! (Ha ha.) Well, where are they now?”
“They’re dead, of course!” said the grumpy guy. “That was like hundreds of years ago. Like a thousand years or something!”
“Right,” said Jesus. “They ate the old bread from heaven and they died. If you eat the new bread from heaven you’ll live forever.”
Well that made the grumpy guy even grumpier. He said, “I can’t believe this guy thinks he’s better than when Moses gave us manna from heaven! He’s way too stuck on himself! Let’s not follow him any more!”
And he stomped away. And a whole lot of other people stomped away too.
Eating Jesus’ Body
But some people in the crowd were still curious. One of them stepped closer to Jesus to ask a question.
“Jesus, living forever sounds amazing,” she said. “How can I do that?”
“Easy peasy,” said Jesus, “I’m the Bread of Life. All you have to do is eat my body and drink my blood.”
“Ew!” she said. “That’s so gross! I’m not going to chomp a bite out of you. Not now, not ever! Let me out of here!”
So she ran away. And a whole lot of other people from the crowd left too.
Only the Twelve
Jesus looked around. There weren’t many people left—just the twelve friends he called “Apostles.”
“Well?” he said. “Aren’t you gonna take off too?”
Peter spoke up. Peter said a lot of goofy things sometimes, but this time he got it right.
“Jesus, where would we go? We’ve been listening to you for a while now. Just learning from you makes us feel more alive. We know God sent you to us.”
“Thanks!” said Jesus.
“But there’s still stuff we don’t understand,” said Peter. “Like, what do you mean when you say we should eat you?”
“Good question Pete,” said Jesus. “First, it’s about your relationship with God. It’s spiritual, not physical. When you listen to my words and stay close to me, that’s a kind of spiritual eating. I’ll be inside you just as close as the bread you eat for dinner.”
“Sounds good,” said Peter. “I can do that. But you said ‘first.’ Is there some other way we should eat you?”
“Yep,” said Jesus. “Later on I’ll teach you how to share a special meal. It’ll be my present to you. When you eat that special meal, you’ll be eating me.”
“Really?” asked Peter. “Well, that sounds…interesting. How’s that gonna work exactly?”
“In that special meal,” Jesus said, “I’ll teach you that the bread is my body. I’ll have you all eat it. Plus I’ll teach you that the wine is my blood. I’ll have you all drink that too.”
“That sounds pretty cool!” said Peter. “Can we have it now?”
“Nope,” said Jesus. “Not till later. But then you can do it over and over—every time you get together with my friends. For now you can eat by listening to what I teach and staying close to me. Just follow me. That’s a good kind of eating.”
- I wonder if you’ve ever heard Jesus say something that just seemed too hard to believe.
- I wonder if any of the people who left Jesus that day ever decided to come back.
- I wonder what kind of life Jesus gives, so that people still have it even when they get sick or die.
- I wonder how you feel about eating Jesus’ body by listening, or following, or sharing the Lord’s Supper.
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