For the third Sunday after Epiphany, I offer you a children’s sermon on Luke 4:14-21. (You can see my regular Monday Meditation on this text here.)
The Revised Common Lectionary seems to be continuing in the theme of the Epiphany, with this gospel reading giving us another take on the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry: Jesus announces his messianic identity.
Not much was ambiguous about it. In the Sabbath service, Jesus read Isaiah’s words about the Messiah’s work. Then he announced that the prophecy was fulfilled, that day, in their midst.
The ambiguities come from the context of the story in Luke’s narrative, and from where the lectionary trims the passage.
Contextually, the announcement seems odd because Luke has not yet shown Jesus doing any of the things Isaiah spoke about.
The lectionary’s editing is odd because the story gets cut off before the end of the scene. At first the crowd approves of Jesus’ announcement, but then he taunts them into a fury. They actual try to kill him. But we get none of that. Not this week, at least.
This week it’s all happy. And that’s where I’ll go in my children’s sermon on Luke 4:14-21.
A Children’s Sermon on Luke 4:14-21
Good morning kids! I’m so glad to see you today. Thanks for coming up to hear the children’s sermon.
We call this season “Epiphany.” In Epiphany, we celebrate that Jesus has come to do his work in the world.
We’re hearing stories each week about the beginning of Jesus’ his work.
- Two weeks ago we heard about Jesus getting baptized at the start of his ministry.
- Last week we heard about Jesus’ very first miracle, when he turned water into wine at a wedding.
- And this week we hear how Jesus told his friends and neighbors who he really was.
In the Gospel of Luke this story happens right at the beginning of Jesus’ gown-up ministry, before he had any disciples following him.
- All alone, Jesus got baptized by John.
- All alone, Jesus spent 40 days in the desert.
- Then, all alone, Jesus started going from town to town, telling people about the Kingdom of Heaven.
After traveling around for a while, still all alone, Jesus decided to go back to his home town.
Everyone knew Jesus back home in Nazareth. Every Sabbath day, they all would pray and worship together at the synagogue.
So, when Jesus came home from his travels, on the Sabbath he went to the synagogue as usual.
Jesus’ neighbors wanted to welcome him home, and honor him. So they asked him to read one of the Bible passages in the service.
Jesus went up to the lectern. Someone brought him the scroll of the Prophet Isaiah. Jesus unrolled it to that morning’s reading. And Jesus read the words of Isaiah chapter 61.
It went something like this:
God poured his Spirit out on me!
Now I’m going to the poor people, and tell them good news from God!
Now I’m going to the prisons and jails, to set the prisoners free!
Now I’m going to the blind people, and I’m going to make them able to see!
Now I’m going to find people who are bullied and feel trapped and I’ll bring them God’s freedom!
I’m here to tell everyone that God really loves them right now!
Paraphrase of Luke 61:1-2
Everyone knew that passage of Isaiah. They all knew it was part of God’s promise to bring a savior, the Messiah.
That was what all the people were hoping for.
Someday God would send the Messiah, so they would be freed from their troubles.
Someday the Messiah would make the world good and fair, the way God intended life to be.
A Surprising Sermon
Well, when Jesus was done reading the words of the prophet, he rolled the scroll back up. He handed it to the person responsible for putting it away on a safe place.
But even after they put scroll away, Jesus still stood at the lectern. They wondered if maybe he would preach a sermon.
Jesus looked out at the people in the synagogue. He knew them all. They all knew him.
He cleared his throat.
He held onto the edges of the lectern with his hands.
He shifted from foot to foot for a couple seconds.
Then he smiled, and said, “I have a big surprise for you: God fulfilled this promise today! Right here in Nazareth!”
Jesus could see they were kind of confused by what he said. So he clarified,
“This promise from the Bible is fulfilled today! It’s about me!”
And that’s where this week’s reading ends.
There’s more to the story, but this is the part we are thinking about today.
We’ll hear the rest of it next week.
- I wonder how Jesus felt, traveling alone from town to town, teaching about God’s kingdom?
- I wonder how Jesus felt making such a big announcement in his home town?
- I wonder how Jesus’ neighbors felt when Jesus told them he was the Messiah?
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…)
Danelle L. Spalla says
Thank you! I signed up for your patreon today. I’ve used your sermons several times. I have a little bear puppet and I often adapt your material to use as a conversation with the puppet and the children. They all love it and I love your insights.
Wendy St Peter says
Thank you for this sermon. It fit right in to our scripture today.
Gary Neal Hansen says
Hey, you’re welcome, Wendy! I’m glad you found it useful.
Be sure and stop by again–I do a new children’s sermon on the lectionary Gospel each week.