Writing a children’s sermon on Luke 23:33-43 has prompted me to change my whole approach. Usually I try to step inside a gospel story, either retelling a story about Jesus, or retelling a story that Jesus told. I usually try to mine the story for at least a little humor.
This one makes that approach very difficult.
It’s Christ the King Sunday. The lectionary offers us the scene of the crucifixion.
- How do I take the crucifixion and make it child friendly?
- How do I take the crucifixion and relate it to Christ the King?
I think it’s time to bring the kids’ attention to the particular day of the Church’s year and then mine the story for connections.
A Children’s Sermon on Luke 23:33-43
Good morning kids! I’m so glad to see you this morning. Thanks for coming up to hear the children’s sermon.
Today is a very special day in the Church’s year. This is the very last Sunday of the whole year for the Church. We call this Sunday “Christ the King.”
Next week we start Advent, and we look forward to the coming of Jesus.
This week, we look back on the whole year and see what we’ve learned about Jesus.
What we’ve learned is that Jesus is our king. He talked about the Kingdom of God all the time, and now we know that he is actually the king.
A Surprising Story
There is something surprising, maybe kind of confusing, about the Gospel story that we read this morning. Out of all the stories in the Bible, on Christ the King we read the story of the day Jesus died.;
It’s a hard story to tell. It’s a hard story to listen to. But I’m going to tell that story to you today, and we’re going to look for what it tells us about what our King Jesus is really like.
The story starts after Jesus was arrested, and accused, and mistreated by the Roman governor and his soldiers. The story starts after the governor said that he was going to have his soldiers kill Jesus.
The soldiers took Jesus, along with some criminals, to a hillside outside the city. That’s where the Romans punished criminals.
They stripped off Jesus’ clothes. They nailed his hands and feet to the wooden beams of a cross. And they hung him up, between two criminals, to die.
Then the soldiers were kind of bored, so they started to play a gambling game to see who would get to keep Jesus’ clothes.
Jesus looked down from his cross at the soldiers who were killing him, and playing games to steal his clothes. He looked down at those people who were being so mean to him, with his big brown eyes all full of love, and he decided to say a prayer for them.
Jesus called out to God, saying “Father, forgive them please! They don’t have any idea what they are doing!”
That tells me something about our king, Jesus. It tells me something important about how God treats us. When we are mean, and when we do wrong things that hurt God and hurt people, Jesus looks at us with love, too. Jesus prays for us, too. Jesus forgives us, too.
There were two criminals who who were hanging on crosses of their own, right beside Jesus. Both of them had broken laws. The Roman law back then said that they should be punished by dying on crosses.
The soldiers had put a sign on Jesus’ cross that said “The King of the Jews.”
One of the criminals started teasing Jesus. He said really mean things, like “Hey Jesus! If you’re a king, why don’t you use your power to safe yourself?”
But the other criminal said “Stop being so mean! We’re both being crucified because we broke the law. Jesus didn’t do anything wrong at all.”
Then this second criminal turned to Jesus and said, “Lord, when you do come into your kingdom, could you please remember me?”
Jesus turned kindly to them man. He tried to smile, even through his pain, and said “Of course! My friend, today you are going to be with me in paradise!”
And that shows me something else important about Jesus. Our king is always ready to forgive us and welcome us home, even if we’ve doe things that are terribly wrong.
- I wonder what stories about Jesus make you think of him as our king?
- I wonder how you feel about our King Jesus dying on a cross?
- I wonder if you’ve ever done something mean and asked Jesus to forgive 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.
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