I found it more than usually challenging to find a good place to dig in for a children’s sermon on Mark 8:27-38.
That’s the lectionary Gospel for Proper 19(24) in Year B. (You can find my regular meditation on it here.)
It consists of three interrelated scenes, each with its own problems:
1. On a walk, Jesus asks the disciples who people say he is.
The discussion of Jesus’ identity is a bit more interesting in Matthew’s version.
Plus, it might be hard to make it feel relevant to kids.
2. Jesus predicts his passion, leading Peter to rebuke Jesus, leading Jesus to rebuke Peter.
The passion prediction will come up again, and is potentially a bit scary.
3. Jesus presents the paradoxes of discipleship.
The third is conceptually challenging, I’d say, in terms of communicating with kids.
But maybe there is a nugget to work with in Peter and Jesus rebuking each other…
People get mad at each other. They still can love each other. It all depends on what they do with their mad feelings.
Let’s see where that takes my children’s sermon on Mark 8:27-38.
A Children’s Sermon on Mark 8:27-38
Good morning kids! I’m so glad you are here today. Thanks for coming up for the children’s sermon.
Sometimes I think we get the wrong pictures on our heads about what Jesus is like and what it was like to be one of his first good friends.
I know that I do. I love Jesus, and I know he loves me. So I sometimes imagine that being with him way back in Bible times was always peaceful and happy.
But you know, sometimes even when we are with the people we love the most, we get into arguments.
- Brothers and sisters get into fights.
- Kids and their parents sometimes yell at each other,
- And sometimes moms and dads who love each other get really mad at each other.
If someone tells you that you did something totally wrong, it can feel like they are mad at you.
When someone gets mad at you, it can feel really terrible. Especially if they call you names.
But here’s the truth: just because two people have an argument, that doesn’t mean they don’t love each other any more.
Jesus Predicts Hard Times Will Come
Let me tell you how I know this. One day Jesus and his friends were talking.
“Hey you guys,” Jesus said, “there’s some stuff coming up that you really need to know about. Listen carefully. We’re going to go up to Jerusalem. then I’m going to get arrested. People are going to do really mean things to me. They are going to hurt my body. And then—”
Just then Peter interrupted.
“Um, Jesus,” Peter said, “just a minute. You and I need to talk.”
Jesus said, “Can’t it wait Pete? I’m kind of in the middle of something important. Now as I was saying, after they arrest me and hurt my body, they are actually going to kill me. And then—”
But then Peter interrupted again.
“Look, Jesus,” he said, “I said we need to talk. Right now!”
And he grabbed Jesus by the arm and pulled him away from the others.
“Okay Peter,” said Jesus, “what’s up?”
A Big Argument
“Here’s the deal,” said Peter. “You shouldn’t be talking about all this scary stuff. You say you are going to get arrested and hurt, even killed. That’s just not okay! John and Mary are going to be totally freaked out. Thomas will probably lose his faith in you. And who knows what Judas will do! You’ve got to stop it.”
“Wow!” said Jesus, “It sounds like you’re pretty upset.”
“Darn right I’m upset!” said Peter. “I’m mad at you. Plus it’s not gonna even happen. We would never let all that bad stuff happen to you!”
“Well Peter, I’m mad at you too!” Jesus said.
“Me?” asked Peter. “Why are you mad at me?”
“Because,” said Jesus, “you’re trying to stop me from doing what God wants me to do. You aren’t acting like my friend. You’re acting like my enemy. Yeah, you’re like Satan!”
“Satan?!?” said Peter. “That’s a mean name! You hurt my feelings!”
“Peter,” said Jesus, “you can’t stop me from doing what I’m supposed to do. I’m telling you all about the hard things that are going to happen. I want you to be ready, so you won’t be surprised. I want to keep you from being too scared.”
“So all that stuff is really going to happen?” asked Peter.
“That’s right,” Jesus said. “I know its confusing now. But this is how I’m going to help the whole world.”
So Peter was mad at Jesus. Peter told Jesus he was totally wrong.
And Jesus was mad at Peter. He even called Peter “Satan”!
But you know what? Jesus and Peter still really loved each other. They were still really good friends.
- I wonder if you’ve ever been really mad at someone you love?
- I wonder if someone you really love has ever been mad at you?
- I wonder if you’ve ever done like Peter and told God that he was totally wrong about something?
- I wonder if God ever might tell you that you are totally wrong about something?
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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