Here’s a children’s sermon on Matthew 28:16-20. It’s a massively important text — “The Great Commission,” no less. But as I write, it is not the Lectionary Gospel for this coming Sunday. I already posted a children’s sermon for this Sunday’s Gospel, and you can find it here (with a link to the related Monday meditation).
This text was the Gospel assigned a couple Sundays ago. I was preaching to grown ups in a church that week and had no time to write for the old blog, so I’m catching up. This one will be there for you in three years, or whenever you happen to be preaching through Matthew, or some Sunday when you are focusing on “the Great Commission.”
The text is assigned for Trinity Sunday of Year A of the Revised Common Lectionary, so I will include that emphasis in my children’s sermon on Matthew 28:16-20. Wish me luck as I try to pitch the Trinity at kid level!
The text also has a tiny tantalizing detail that I’d like to put in the foreground: Matthew says they worshipped the risen Jesus, “but some doubted.” The risk is that this will make for confusion, or lack of focus. You can tell me if you see that as a problem. (It’s also way too long. Oh well…)
And here’s a link to the Monday Meditation on this text, from a while back.
A Children’s Sermon on Matthew 28:16-20
Good morning kids! I am so glad to see you here in worship this morning. Thanks for coming up to hear the children’s sermon. Today is the day we call “Trinity Sunday.” Today we celebrate that there is one God, and that Jesus’ Father is God, and Jesus is God, and the Holy Spirit is God.
A Meeting on a Mountain
Today’s Gospel story happened after Easter. Jesus was alive again! His disciples were so happy.
Jesus had sent a message: the friends who had been with him for three years should come to Galilee, and meet him on top of a hill.
So they went to Galilee.
They climbed the hill.
And suddenly Jesus was there!
Jesus’ friends were so happy to see him. They had seen his miracles. They had heard his wisdom. And now, after he was dead and buried, they saw him alive again.
“Oh Jesus!” said Peter. “We’re not worthy to see you! Thank you for coming back to us!”
“We think you’re just amazing, Jesus!” said John. “We love you so much!”
“Oh Lord!” said Andrew. “You are really, truly God!”
They were all kneeling and bowing in front of him. They knew, they just knew he was God.
But Some Doubted
Well, most of them did.
Thomas and Nathaniel weren’t saying anything. They were sort of looking at each other and rolling their eyes.
Then Nathaniel whispered something to Thomas.
Then Thomas whispered something to Nathaniel.
Then they both looked up at the same time. And Jesus was looking right at them.
“What’s up guys?” asked Jesus, with a friendly smile.
“Oh nothing,” said Thomas.
“It’s not nothing!” said Nathaniel.
“Well, okay,” said Thomas, “but maybe I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Wait a minute, guys,” said Jesus. “Whatever it is, it’s okay to tell me. I always want to know what’s going on with you.”
“It’s just—” started Nathanial. “It’s just this whole ‘worship’ thing. Everybody saying you’re God. I just don’t know what to think about that.”
“We’ll,” said Jesus, “You’ve always told me exactly what you do think. That’s one of the things I love about you.”
“But Jesus!” said Thomas. “Everybody is so sure about it! I—well, I have my doubts, that’s all.”
“That’s okay, Thomas,” said Jesus. “You’ve always needed a little extra convincing. You always like a bit more evidence. That’s something I love about you.”
“I think we need to talk about this,” said Nathaniel. “We need to get it settled.”
“Yeah,” said Thomas. “Its awkward having these doubts.”
“You can think about those things later,” said Jesus. “Right now I want to give all of you some very important orders.”
“Orders?” said Nathaniel. “Isn’t that kind of, well, bossy?
“Yes, orders. I’m sure you’ve heard me mention the Kingdom of Heaven,” said Jesus. “Right?’
“Oh, sure,” said Nathaniel. “You talk about the Kingdom of Heaven a lot. What about it?”
“Well,” said Jesus, “That’s my kingdom now. God has given me all authority—over everything!”
“Everything?” asked Thomas. “No way. I can’t believe that!”
“It’s true, though,” said Jesus. “Everything on heaven. And everything on earth. I’m the king.”
“Okay, Lord,” said Peter. “Tell us your orders! I’m totally excited about this. Are we all going somewhere? It’ll be like it was before. We all love being with you.”
“No, Peter,” said Jesus. “We aren’t all going together. But you’re all going to go. Remember how I sent you on that mission trip?”
“Yeah!” said Peter. “That was so exciting! Scary at first. But amazing!”
“Well,” said Jesus, “This will be like that, only longer.”
“How much longer?” grumbled Nathaniel.
“For the rest of your lives, actually,” said Jesus. “I want you to go to every country in the whole world.”
“The whole world?” asked Thomas. “But I’ve never been to another country. Where do I have to go? I don’t think I can do this.”
“You’ll be going to India, Thomas,” said Jesus. “It’s far away to the East. And Nathaniel, you’ll be going to Syria.”
“But what do we have to do when we get to these places?” moaned Nathaniel.
“I’m so glad you asked,” said Jesus. “Remember how I asked you to follow me? Remember how I made you my disciples?”
“Yeah,” said Nathaniel, sounding doubtful.
“When you go to all the nations I want you to make disciples too.”
“But India is a long way to go!” said Thomas. “I doubt I’ll be able to make many disciples after I travel all that way and try to learn their language and all!”
“Even a few disciples is going to be enough,” said Jesus. “You get them to be my disciples, and they’ll invite their friends and neighbors. Eventually I’ll have disciples everywhere!”
“That’s never going to work,” said Nathaniel. “We don’t know how to make disciples.”
“Actually, you do,” said Jesus. “Just focus on two things: Baptize people, and teach people. It’s exactly what happened to you!”
“So how do we baptize people?” asked Peter, “Do we just wash them in water?”
“Baptism isn’t just a bath, Peter,” said Jesus. “When someone, or some family, wants to be my disciples, baptism is how they know they’ve been born into a brand new life. And it’s how they know God has put his name on them.”
“Wait, wait, wait!” said Matthew. “I’m trying to write all this down. How exactly do we baptize these new disciples?”
“Baptize them,” Jesus said slowly, “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
“Wait—what?” asked Thomas. “That doesn’t make sense. First you said baptism was in the name of God. Now you say ‘Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.’”
“That’s right, Thomas,” said Jesus. “My Father is God. And I’ve always told you that ‘I and the Father are one.’ And the Holy Spirit is God too.”
“Wait—,” said Nathaniel. “But there’s only one God.”
“Yep,” said Jesus. “One God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”
“I don’t even understand that,” said Thomas. “How am I supposed to believe it.”
“It will grow on you,” said Jesus. “Or I should say you’ll grow into it. But that’s the way you baptize, putting God’s name on people.”
“You said we have to teach them too,” said Nathaniel. “What if I don’t know what to teach?”
“You can totally do this,” said Jesus. “Just remember what I showed you and what I told you all the time we were together. Teach them to do what I said. That’ll be enough.”
“But—But—But—,” sputtered Thomas. “I don’t think I can do it! I’m—I’m too scared!”
Jesus looked at Thomas, with his big brown eyes all full of love, then he said “I believe you can do it. And even if you don’t see me, I’ll be with you—forever and for always! And that’s another very important thing to teach the new disciples!”
I wonder what it was like to go to faraway countries to tell people about Jesus?
I wonder what it felt like to be told to do those things even though they had doubts?
I wonder what it was like to hear about Jesus from people who knew him face to face?
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.
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