Somebody is going to accuse me of wimping out in my children’s sermon on Mark 10:2-16. I’m skipping all the hard stuff and dealing only with the easy part. (You can see my regular Monday Meditation on this passage, which is mostly on the divorce stuff, by clicking here.)
- I’m skipping Jesus’ public conversation with the Pharisees where he seems to forbid divorce (Mark 10:2-9).
- I’m also skipping Jesus’ private conversation with his disciples where he seems to double down on the divorce issue (Mark 10:10- 12).
- Instead I’m going to talk with the kids about the part of the story with kids in it. (Mark 10:13-16).
Focusing on Kids
If you stop by here regularly you will have, I hope, expected that. Often the lectionary gives Gospel readings with two or three distinct sections—multiple encounters or multiple parables. If one part of the reading includes reference to a child, even if the child is offstage the whole time and just being talked about, that’s the piece I tend to focus on.
Why? Because I’m preaching to kids, and I want them to know that the Good News of Jesus is actually for them.
And I tell you, in most churches, not a single person in the 12 and under set is even married, much less pondering divorce.
“Aha!” you say, “But some of them have parents who have gotten a divorce! That makes the hard stuff here relevant.”
True enough. But for a child of divorce, are these really the passages to talk about? Will these words help them as they try to make sense of their parents’ broken marriages?
Taken at face value, Jesus’ words will lead them to judge their parents, or to be even more worried about them than before.
Hansen’s Rule of Discernment
This illustrates an important principle of biblical interpretation. Let’s call it “Hansen’s rule of discernment.” It goes like this:
- Yes, as Paul said, all Scripture is inspired by God and is useful.
- But, some passages are for today, and some are for tomorrow.
Think hard about whether your little kids need a clear rule on divorce today. I’d say they’ll need that some time in the future.
If you are choosing the passage to be read in the service, you can use your discernment to choose something totally on target. But if your church uses the lectionary, you have to discern what part of that passage brings the Word God is speaking today.
Especially for kids. Like in a children’s sermon on Mark 10:2-16.
Plus, kids dig the story of Jesus welcoming the children. Lord knows some adults in a couple churches out there could benefit from its lesson.
When my own kids were smaller, sometimes I let my kids pick the Bible story I would tell at bed time.
My daughter always chose this one.
My son? He always went were for David and Goliath. Go figure.
(By the way: I think a key to actually using this one is exaggerating Peter’s emotions.)
A Children’s Sermon on Mark 10:2-16
Good morning kids! I’m so glad you’re here today. Thanks for coming up to hear the children’s sermon.
There is something very special about the Gospel story we read in church this morning. You’ve heard stories about Jesus healing children when they were sick. Well this story is about Jesus hanging out with some kids when they were just being kids.
Very Serious Matters
One day Jesus had been talking to the grown ups about Very Serious Matters.
Some picky judgey people came to start an argument with him.
Then his disciples came to ask him about hard, confusing things.
Jesus found it all kind of exhausting. So he decided to take a break and go for a walk.
But then his disciples decided to come along. They wanted to ask him more hard questions to solve all their confusing problems. So Jesus was surrounded by disciples asking Serious Difficult Questions.
Kids and their Parents
But then there was a sound from down the road, back toward the village. It sounded like children, laughing and yelling.
Jesus couldn’t see, with all those serious grown up disciples around him, but there was a small crowd coming up the road. It was a whole bunch of kids and their parents.
The parents wanted to bring their kids so Jesus would put his hands on their heads and bless them.
But the kids wanted to go see Jesus because they knew Jesus was a lot of fun to be with.
Well, Jesus couldn’t see, but he could hear them. The kids were standing in a line holding hands. They yelled “Red Rover, Red Rover, send Jesus on over!”
Time to Stop That!
Some of the disciples decided it was time to do something.
Peter turned around and looked at the group of people who had just arrived.
Actually he looked straight over the heads of the kids so he could look at their parents.
“You people are making too much noise!” Peter said. “You should go away.”
The kids shouted “Red Rover, Red Rover, send Jesus on over!”
“Shush!” said Peter. “I’m talking to these grownups. Your parents.”
But the kids laughed and shouted again, “Red Rover, Red Rover, send Jesus on over!”
“Shush!” said Peter again. “You parents! Make your children be quiet. Jesus is very busy. Jesus is doing Important Grown Up Things. The adults are trying to talk.”
But the kids kept shouting “Red Rover, Red Rover, send Jesus on over!”
Peter, I must say, was getting very red in the face, “Shush!” he said again. “Didn’t you hear—“
Time to Stop Peter!
But just then Jesus tapped Peter on the shoulder, “Hey Pete,” Jesus asked, “what are you doing?”
“I’m sending these children away.” Peter said, “I told them you are busy doing important grown up things.”
“Oh Peter,” Jesus said, shaking his head. “Just stop that. I want the kids to come to me. And kids are important. The whole kingdom of heaven belongs to them.”
“It does?” asked Peter.
“It does,” said Jesus. “Plus, they’re a lot more fun than you. Did I hear someone say Red Rover? I love Red Rover!”
Time to Play!
And with that Jesus broke through the line of disciples, and ran into the arms of the kids. They all went to the grassy field beside the road and played for the rest of the afternoon, running, and wrestling, and playing games.
And when it was time for the kids to go home to dinner, Jesus hugged each one, and prayed for each one, and gave each one a special blessing.
- I wonder what it felt like when the disciples wouldn’t let the children come to Jesus?
- I wonder what it felt like when Jesus said the children could come to him after all?
- I wonder what it means that the Kingdom of heaven belongs to children?
- I wonder what games you would want to play with Jesus if he came to your neighborhood?
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…)