This children’s sermon on John 7:37-39 is designed for Pentecost (the text is one of two Gospels to choose from in the Lectionary for Year A), though most congregations will focus on the Acts text (which you can find here). It will be easy to adapt it to another time of year, say, if you are in a sermon series on John apart from the lectionary. Just delete the paragraphs on Pentecost in the introduction and you are good to go.
I pull in material from outside this short reading to help it make narrative sense and theological sense. The context creates some problems — Jesus tells his “brothers” that he isn’t going to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles, but then he does go, in secret. I don’t really want to deal with the Son of God telling a fib here. The brothers are useful, though, so I drag them into the story. In Mark 3:21, Jesus’ family (according to one reading) think that Jesus has gone out of his mind. I take that useful tidbit and transfer it to this scene as well.
Anyway, with a bit of reworking to make a story, and one that will help kids make sense of the connection to Pentecost, herewith you have a children’s sermon on John 7:37-39. (By the way, you can find my Monday Meditation on this text here.)
A Children’s Sermon on John 7:37-39
Good morning, kids! I’m so glad to see you here in worship today. Thank you for coming up to hear the children’s sermon.
Today is a very very special day in the life of the Church. This is the very last day of the season of Easter. Jesus died on Good Friday, but on Easter Sunday God made him alive again. Jesus is still alive, and he’s always loving us and helping us. The fact that Jesus is alive again is so amazing, so wonderful, that every year we celebrate it for fifty days.
The fiftieth day of Easter season is called “Pentecost.” On Pentecost, fifty days after Easter, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to his friends. The Holy Spirit has been with Jesus’ friends ever since, even today, helping us in lots of ways.
Today’s reading from the Gospel comes from long before that Pentecost day, long before Jesus rose to life on Easter.
In today’s story, Jesus promises that the Spirit would come to help us — someday.
Jesus Visits a Festival
One day, Jesus said to his friends, “Let’s go to Jerusalem. I want to see the big festival that’s happening there. But let’s not tell my brothers. They don’t think I’m going this year.”
So, off they went. They saw some friends. They worshipped in the Temple. They had a great time.
Then, on the very last day of the festival, Jesus and his friends were with the crowd around the Temple. Jesus stood up on a step where everyone could see him, and he started shouting!
“Hey everybody!” Jesus yelled. “If any of you are thirsty, come here to me! Take a big drink of what I give you! Then you’ll have living water inside you, flowing out of your heart!”
Well, even Jesus’ friends didn’t know exactly what he was talking about. But Jesus kept on shouting.
“Hey! If you are thirsty, come to me! I’ll make living water flow out of your heart!”
You probably remember that Jesus didn’t tell his brothers he was coming to the festival. But when he started shouting, his brothers heard his voice.
“That sounds like Jesus!” they said. And they started looking around. Sure enough, there was Jesus, standing up and shouting to the crowd.
Jesus’ brothers came rushing over to him. One of them stepped up beside him and said to the crowd, “Don’t mind my brother! He just gets a little crazy sometimes!” And he put his arm around Jesus’ shoulder, and tried to pull him off the high step.
Jesus said, “You know, this is why I didn’t tell you I was coming to the festival. I need to tell the people about the living water, and I knew you’d try to stop me. Now you just let me go and get off my step.”
Jesus’ brother said, “Oh Jesus, what are you talking about? What’s all this ‘living water’ business? You’re just trying to embarrass us, aren’t you?”
The Holy Spirit
“No,” said Jesus. “I’m saying it because it’s true. Everyone who believes in me will get God’s Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes into their lives it will be like cool refreshing water in their dry and thirsty hearts.”
His brother said, “No way. You’re just making this up.”
“No really!” said Jesus. “It’s true! Remember when the prophet said ‘Everyone who it thirsty, come and drink for free’? That was about me, how people should come and hear my teaching. Remember when the prophet said ‘If you believe you’ll have a spring of living water inside‘? That was about me too.”
“But what about that part where you said it would flow out of our hearts,” said Jesus’ brother. “Isn’t that going to be kind of messy?”
“Oh brother,” said Jesus. “The Holy Spirit doesn’t get you all wet. I’m trying to tell you that when the Holy Spirit comes into your life, you’ll be so full of life and light that you’ll start bringing life and light people around you.”
“Hm…” said Jesus’ brothers. “Actually that sounds pretty good. How do I get that living water?”
“Well,” said Jesus, “You could start by learning from my teaching. You could believe in me instead of calling me crazy.”
I wonder whether Jesus’ brothers ever stopped bugging him and started believing in him?
I wonder what it is really like to drink the “living water” Jesus talks about?
I wonder if you’ve ever felt like you have life and light inside of you?
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…)