Preface for Pastors and Parents
I took a slightly different approach to this week’s children’s sermon on Matthew 22:15-22. It‘s standard for me to start with a friendly welcome. (I think of it as the “Mr Rogers Moment.”) Actually, I think that welcome is really important — a Gospel lesson in itself, that too many pastors don’t bother with.
This week I extend that welcome to make a point: Each of the children who comes up for the children’s sermon is created in the image of God. That’s pretty wonderful in itself, but I talk about it for two reasons.
First, it’s true and kids should know it. It really is the reason behind my warm and friendly welcome.
Second, though, it is something that you need to have in mind if you want to get a crucial and weighty point of this Bible passage. You’ll see.
A Children’s Sermon on Matthew 22:15-22
Good morning kids! I am so happy to see you. I’m glad you came to worship today, and I’m especially glad you came up to hear the children’s sermon.
You know, kids, every time you come up here I tell you that I’m happy you’re here. And it’s really true. I wonder if you know why I get so excited to see you?
Here’s why: It’s because when I see you, I see something about what God is like. Its true!
Made in God’s Image
That’s what the Bible says when it tells the story of God making the very first people.
God said “Hey! We made the whole world, with all the plants, and all the bugs, and all the fish, and all the birds, and all the animals. Now let’s make something really amazing. Let’s make one really special kind of animal who is sort of like us!”
The Bible uses a very special word for the way you and I are like God. It says we are made in God’s “image,” or God’s “likeness.” In the old Greek version it says we are made as God’s “icon.”
Those are words painters use.
- When an artist makes a painting of a person, it’s called that person’s “image.”
- If the painting looks a lot like the person, they say it’s a good “likeness.”
- And if the painting is of someone who reminds us of Jesus, the church calls the picture an “icon.”
God made you in God’s own image. There is something about you that is like something about God. It’s not what your face or your body looks like. It’s really about who you are on the inside.
As you grow closer to God, your life will remind people of who God is — you’ll be a good likeness of God. You’ll be an icon.
Jesus and the Image
Jesus mentions this in our story from the Gospel this morning.
Some picky, judgy people wanted to get Jesus in trouble. I think they were jealous. They wanted to trick Jesus into saying something people wouldn’t like to hear. That way, maybe people wouldn’t like Jesus so much.
They knew nobody liked paying taxes to the government. So they came up to Jesus and asked him a question about paying taxes.
If it happened today, here’s how the conversation would have gone.
“Hey, Jesus!” said the picky, judgy people. “You’re such a good teacher. We know you’ll tell us the truth. Does God want us to pay taxes to the government? What does God’s law say?”
“You’re just trying to get me in trouble,” Jesus said, “But I don’t mind. It’s an easy question. Bring me a dollar.”
Someone dug into their pocket and found a brand new crisp dollar bill. They brought it to Jesus.
“Okay,” said Jesus. “Take a look at this dollar bill. Whose image is on it? Is there a likeness of somebody? Is there an icon of some kind?”
“It’s George Washington, of course!” they said. “Washington’s image is on every dollar.”
“Well then,” said Jesus, “if it has Washington’s image, it must belong to Washington. When it’s tax time, give what belongs to Washington back to Washington.”
They started to grumble. They really didn’t like paying taxes.
“By the way, there’s one other thing,” said Jesus.
“What’s that?” they asked.
“If you give Washington what has Washington’s image on it, you should also give God what has God’s image on it.”
I wonder why people really don’t like to pay taxes to the government?
I wonder if it was easier to pay their taxes when they realized whose image was on their money?
I wonder how you and I can give God what has God’s image on it?
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.
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