Prelude for Pastors (and Parents)
My children’s sermon on Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 arrives in time for the eighth Sunday after Pentecost. This year that is “Proper 11(16)” in the Revised Common Lectionary. But you don’t need to be a lectionary preacher to use it. It will fit in a sermon series on Matthew, or on the parables, or on the church, or as a bedtime Bible story any old time.
This text is the neglected younger brother of “the Parable of the Sower” which came up last week. It is one of the very rare parables that Jesus explained in detail.
It has a fascinating history, which you can check out in my Monday meditation on this text from a while back.
But that’s not the topic today. Today I’m here to give you a children’s sermon on Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43.
(Oh yeah! Before I begin can I ask a favor? Please click this link to subscribe to my almost-weekly newsletter. It will be a big help in my journey to my next book contract — plus you’ll get every new children’s sermon by email!)
A Children’s Sermon on Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
Good morning kids! I am so glad to see you. Thanks for being here in worship, and thanks especially for coming up to hear the children’s sermon.
Most Sundays I tell you stories about things that Jesus did. But today I’m going to tell you a story that Jesus told to his friends. I imagine it happening something like this.
A Hard Question
One evening, Jesus noticed a couple of his friends having a serious conversation.
“Hey Mary! Hey Peter!” said Jesus. “What are you talking about?”
They looked at each other for a minute. Then Mary spoke up. “I guess we’re kind of sad.”
“Aw,” Jesus said, “that’s too bad. What’s making you so sad?”
“We’re wondering — why are some people so mean?” asked Mary.
“Why don’t some people want to follow your teaching?” said Peter.
“I mean,” Mary said, “I suppose most people can’t follow you everywhere like we do. But some people are actually trying to stop you.”
“Yeah,” said Peter. “We heard some people saying they want to arrest you.”
“Why, Jesus?” asked Mary. “Why is it that some people try to learn to love God and love people, but other people hear what you say and still do mean things? It just doesn’t make sense.”
“I have an idea!” said Peter. “Maybe you can do something to stop the bad people! Like have God send an army of angels, with flaming swords to swoop down in mighty chariots and—”
“Wait a minute Peter,” said Jesus. “Let me tell you a story. It’s a story about the Kingdom of heaven.”
Once there was a farmer. Early one morning he met with all his workers.
“Good news!” he told them. “My good new seeds just arrived. Today I want you to plant my good new seed in my great big field.”
One of his workers asked, “What kind of seed is it?”
“Wheat!” he told the workers. “We’re going to grow lots and lots al wheat!
“Then we’ll grind it up and make lots and lots of flour!
“Then we’ll bake it into lots and lots of bread.
“And then we can feed lots and lots of people!”
“That sounds great,” said one of the workers. “Can we have some of the bread?”
“Sure!” said the farmer. “There’s going to be lots and lots — enough for everybody!”
- Each worker took a sack of the good new seeds.
- They walked down every row.
- They planted the good new seeds all through the great big field.
- Then they went home to their families.
But that night, a second farmer, a farmer from down the road, called all his own workers in for a meeting.
One of the workers asked “Hey boss, why did you want us to come in at night?”
“Because I want you to do something for me,” said the second farmer. “Something sneaky. Something secret. Something mean.”
“Sounds like fun,” said the worker, rubbing his hands together.
The second farmer said, “You know how much I hate that farmer up the road, right?”
They all nodded. This second farmer said mean things about the first farmer all the time.
“Well,” said the second farmer, “That farmer just planted his whole great big field with good new wheat seeds. But I have bags and bags of nasty rotten weed seeds. And you’re going to go over there and plant them in his field!”
And that’s what the second farmer’s workers did.
- They each took a sack of nasty rotten weed seeds.
- They walked down every row of the first farmer’s field.
- And they planted nasty, rotten weed seeds all through that great big field.
- Then they snuck back home to their families.
What to Do?
Well, some days passed, and some nights passed.
Some rain fell, and some sun shone.
And little plants started to grow in the first farmer’s great big field.
After spending the day in the fields, the workers came to the door of the first farmer’s house.
The first farmer came outside to talk with them.
“How’s it looking in my great big field?” he asked. “Is my good new seed growing lots and lots of wheat?”
“Well, yes,” said one of the workers. “That’s the good news.”
“Oh oh,” said the farmer. “Sound’s like maybe there’s also some bad news.”
“There are weeds growing in your field too,” said the worker. “Lots and lots of weeds. In every row. Just as many weeds as wheat plants.”
“Oh dear,” said the farmer.
“But we have a plan,” said the worker. “We’re going back to the field tomorrow and we’ll pull up every single weed. Then your good wheat plants can grow big and strong.”
“No,” said the farmer. “I have a better plan. Let the weeds stay in the field. Let the wheat and the weeds grow up together.”
“But why?” asked the workers.
“Because,” said the farmer, “If you pull up the weeds, you’ll hurt my good wheat. You might mistake a wheat plant for a weed and pull it up. Or the roots of the weeds might be tangled with the roots of the wheat. Then if you pulled up weeds, the wheat would come up too. We’ll sort it all out at harvest time.”
And Jesus said, “That’s what the Kingdom of heaven is like.”
I wonder if Peter and Mary felt like Jesus’ story answered their question?
I wonder if you’ve ever felt like the bad things people do make life extra hard?
I wonder if it helps to know that God is patient, letting weeds and wheat grow together?
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