For the second Sunday in Lent, I bring you a children’s sermon on Luke 13:31-35. (You can find my regular Monday Meditation on this text here.)
The passage has two distinct sections. They do tie together as one scene, but they have different subjects, different literary styles, and very different emotional tones.
- The first is passion predictions, in poetry, addressed to Herod, with unmistakable snarkiness.
- The second is a lament, in prose, addressed to Jerusalem, with unmistakable compassion.
In a children’s sermon it’s always best focus on just one thing. I’m going to skip the snarky message to Herod about the passion. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not trying to avoid telling the kids about Jesus suffering and dying. But Luke actually gives plenty of passion predictions, so it comes up in other children’s sermons.
What is more rare here is the heart-rending love Jesus expresses in the second section. Sure, you see his compassion in action every time he heals someone. And you hear hints of it in a few passing comments elsewhere. Like at Lazarus’ tomb when John tells us simply “Jesus wept.” And in a story when someone said surely Jesus could heal if he was willing to heal, and Jesus said of course he was willing.
But in this little speech he articulates his compassion unprompted, and at greater length. I think that’s unusual, and important.
I’ll have to build a little conversational story around it, but that’s workable.
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So here we go with a children’s sermon on Luke 13:31-35.
A Children’s Sermon on Luke 13:31-35
Good morning kids! Welcome! I’m so glad you are here in worship this morning. Thanks for coming up to hear the children’s sermon.
Today is the second Sunday in Lent. In Lent we spend 40 days, plus six Sundays, getting ready for Easter. Jesus died on Good Friday, but on Easter Jesus rose up, alive again. On Easter, Jesus conquered death, and gave us all a whole new life—real life, forever life, with God.
Each week of Lent, our Sunday Gospel readings tell us different things to help us get ready for Easter.
Here’s how I imagine this week’s Gospel story happening.
Sad About the City
One day, Jesus was sitting on a hill outside the city of Jerusalem. He was looking across toward the city.
His friend Mary was there, along with the other disciples.
“What’s up, Jesus?” she asked.
“I’m just looking at Jerusalem,” he said. “All those buildings, all full of people.”
“Yeah,” she said, “I see you’re looking at the city. But I’m wondering why you’re looking so sad?”
“It’s about Jerusalem, Mary,” Jesus said. “I know what Jerusalem is supposed to be—and I know what it’s actually been like.”
“What do you mean?” Mary said.
“Well,” he said, “Jerusalem is supposed to be God’s special city. King David, and all the kings afterward, had their palace here. And David’s son, Solomon, built God’s temple here. Jerusalem was supposed to be the city where all God’s people came to worship and to celebrate the holy days. It’s supposed to be where everybody learns to live God’s way. It’s supposed to be a city of peace.”
“That sounds great!” Mary said, “So why are you sad?”
“Because Jerusalem has never been peaceful for long,” he said. “The people have never really learned to live God’s way—or they can’t keep it up.”
“That is sad,” said Mary.
“You know what some people call Jerusalem?” Jesus asked. “They call it ‘the city that kills the prophets’!”
“Why do they say that?” Mary asked,
“Well, over the years it has happened a lot,” Jesus said. “God sends prophets to speak his message to the people, and what happens? The prophets get to Jerusalem, and people kill them. Or sometimes people throw rocks at them.”
On Being a Chicken
“Wow!” said Mary. “That’s pretty rotten!”
“I know, right?” he said. “It just makes me so sad. I mean, I really love Jerusalem. I love the city, and I totally love the people who live there.”
“Yeah,” Mary said. “I wish there was something we could do!”
And she looked sadly at the city too.
“You know what I wish, Mary?” Jesus asked.
“What’s that, Jesus?”
“Sometimes—“ he started, but then he paused. “Now don’t laugh, but sometimes I really wish I was a chicken.”
Mary laughed. “What?!?” she asked “A chicken?!? Why?”
“I asked you not to laugh,” Jesus said. “You ever see a mama chicken with her little chicks? If there’s some problem, she’ll spread her wings and gather them up in a big old hug. That’s what I want to do with Jerusalem.”
“Aw…” said Mary, “that’s so nice.”
“I just love them so much!” Jesus said. “I don’t want anything bad to happen to them. And I want to help them learn to live God’s way.”
“That’s really great,” Mary said. “Think it’ll work?”
“I doubt it,” said Jesus.
“Why not?” she asked.
“No wings,” Jesus said. “I’m actually not a mama chicken.”
Going to Jerusalem
“Right,” said Mary. “So what will you do?”
“I’m going to go to Jerusalem pretty soon,” he said. “I plan to tell them God’s message about the Kingdom of Heaven.”
“Wow,” Mary said. “That’s great. How do you think it’ll go?”
Jesus said, “I expect a lot of people will sing out ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”
“That sounds like they’re going to really welcome you,” Mary said.
Jesus looked sadly over at the city.
“Yep,” he said, “Jerusalem will welcome me the same way they welcomed the prophets.”
- I wonder why the people were often so mean to the prophets?
- I wonder if you would like Jesus to hold you close and protect you, like a mama chicken hugs her chicks?
- I wonder if knowing Jesus loves you that way helps you get ready inside for Easter?
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