I think the best strategy for a children’s sermon on Mark 5:21-43 is to focus on the child in the story. The passage (as I said when I wrote a meditation on it) is a “sandwich” story: There’s one story on the outside with a second story in the middle..
The outside story, the bread if you will, is the healing of Jairus’ daughter.
In the middle is the story of the healing of the woman who had been bleeding for twelve years—that’s the PB&J, or whatever you like for lunch.
Both stories are great. But anyone preaching on this has to decide:
- Do I preach on both stories together?
- Do I focus on the woman with the issue of blood?
- Do I focus on Jairus and his daughter?
Any one of these choices can result in a good sermon. But when preaching to kids I keep two things in mind:
1. I need to focus on one coherent thing — so I’m not going to talk about both stories and their complicated interplay.
2. I need to help kids connect the story with their own lives as kids — so I’m not going to talk about a grown-up who has been bleeding longer than my young congregation has even been alive.
Telling the kids the story of a kid is the fast path to engagement. It’s also, I’d say, a holy priority. Everybody needs to see their own story playing out amidst the diverse array of people in God’s big story.
Okay, this children’s sermon on Mark 5:21-43 is really more focused on the child’s parents. That’s true to the action of the text. It’s also a bit easier to tell that way, since the poor little girl spends a great portion of the story dead…
A Children’s Sermon on Mark 5:21-43
Hello kids! Welcome! I’m so glad you are here today.
You may have noticed that a whole lot of the stories we read from the Bible are about grown-ups. Maybe you’ve wondered about whether the Bible has much to say to someone like you.
Well guess what? Today’s story from the Gospel of Mark is all about a kid. A kid and her dad, actually. A kid, and her parents, and Jesus.
A Sick Little Girl
Here’s what happened. There was this twelve year old girl, and she got sick. She got very, very sick. Her parents were Mr. and Mrs. Jairus, and they loved her so much.
But they were so worried.
Mr. Jairus said to his wife,
I’m so scared! I don’t want our daughter to die!
And Mrs. Jairus said,
I’m scared too. Isn’t there anything we can do?
Then they heard a noise from down the road. It sounded like a big crowd.
Mr. Jairus said,
Do you hear that? I think that’s Jesus coming down the road! Somebody told me he was coming to town.
Mrs. Jairus said,
Isn’t Jesus that teacher we heard about?
And Mr. Jairus said,
Yes–but he also heals people with the power of God! I’m going to see if he’ll heal our daughter.
And Mr. Jairus took off running.
A Leap of Faith
He worked his way through the crowd, and there was Jesus. Jesus was laughing and talking with his friends as they walked along the road. Everybody else was trying to get close, wanting to hear what Jesus had to say.
Well, Mr. Jairus came right up in front of Jesus, and got down on his knees. He looked up at Jesus and he said,
Please Jesus! Come to my house! My daughter is so sick—I think she’s going to die! Can you help her please?
And Jesus looked down at him with his big brown eyes all full of love, and said,
Wow! You are so brave to come ask for help. That’s what I call faith! Of course I’ll come!
The Saddest News
Well it took a few minutes before they could start toward Mr. Jairus’ house, and while he was waiting one of his neighbors came up and tugged him on his sleeve. He said,
Hey, Mr. Jairus, I’m so sorry to say that your daughter just died.
Well maybe you can imagine what happened next. Everybody dies eventually, but for the people left behind it is so, so sad. And nothing is as sad as when someone’s child dies. Mr. Jairus held his head in his hands and cried.
Oh, my poor poor little girl! What will I do! Oh, Jesus I wish we’d gotten there in time!
But Jesus put his arm around Mr. Jairus’ shoulder and said,
Don’t worry. Trust me. Let’s go.
When they got to Mr. Jairus front yard, Mrs. Jairus and their neighbors were outside crying and crying, they were all so sad.
But Jesus said,
You don’t need to cry. The little girl isn’t dead. She’s just sleeping.
The neighbors started to laugh at Jesus — not like it was funny, but like they thought Jesus was crazy.
A Big Surprise
But Jesus just said to Mr. and Mrs. Jairus,
Take me to your daughter. Peter, James, and John, you come too.
So the six of them went inside to where the little girl’s body lay.
Jesus gently picked up her hand in his own two hands and said,
Little girl—time to get up!
just like it was the morning of a brand new day.
And then the most surprising thing happened: The little girl got up!
She was so surprised to see Jesus holding her hand. But she could tell right away that Jesus was a good and kind person. You know: kids can usually tell.
Jesus said to her,
Welcome back! Why don’t you have a snack? Then you can go outside and play!
And she did.
Mr. and Mrs. Jairus were out of their minds with joy. They said,
That’s amazing! Wait till we tell all our neighbors!
But Jesus said,
Nope. Don’t tell anybody. Just hold it in your hearts.
- I wonder if you’ve ever felt so sick you were afraid you might die?
- I wonder if you’ve every been so worried that you asked Jesus for help?
- I wonder when it was hardest to trust Jesus — when the girl was sick, when the girl had died, or when the girl was alive again?
- I wonder what the people outside thought when they saw the little girl run out of the house, alive and healthy?
- I wonder what it was like to not be able to tell people about how Jesus had helped their daughter?
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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