On the Second Sunday after Pentecost in Year A, the Gospel reading has two options: one short, one long. I’m sticking with the short one, so this will be a children’s sermon on Matthew 9:35-10:8.
I make that choice primarily because it is a tighter, more coherent story. The short version is about Jesus sending his disciples on a mission trip. In the long version, Jesus shifts to things the disciples would only encounter years later after his Resurrection.
You are, of course, welcome to use this in a worship service or as a bedtime story. If you do, please let me know how it goes!
A Children’s Sermon on Matthew 9:35-10:8
For a long time, Jesus’ disciples followed him around and learned from him.
- They watched, as he taught people about the kingdom of heaven.
- They watched, as he healed people who were sick, in their bodies and their minds.
- They watched, as he fed people who were hungry.
- They watched, as he welcomed people nobody else wanted around.
Sometimes when Jesus looked at the crowds of people who wanted his help he sighed.
“Whew!” he would say. “These people need a lot of help! Their lives must be so hard. They’re like sheep with no shepherd!”
One day, Jesus said to his disciples, “You really ought to pray that God will send people out to help all the people who are hurting, and sick, and sad, and hungry.”
Then Jesus did a kind of funny thing: He answered his own prayer.
“I know!” he said. “I’ll send you on a mission trip! YOU can go out and help the people!”
They just sort of stared at him.
“Um, Jesus,” asked Thomas, “what are we supposed to do exactly?”
“Well, Thomas,” asked Jesus, “what kinds of things have you seen me doing?”
“You teach people about the kingdom of heaven!” said John.
“And you heal people who are sick!” said Andrew.
“And sometimes you feed people who are hungry!” said James.
“And sometimes you welcome people who nobody else wants to be around,” said Matthew. Matthew knew all about that. He used to be a tax collector, and most people really didn’t like tax collectors.
“That’s right,” said Jesus. “You’ve got it. Go do those things.”
“But wait,” said Thomas. “You expect us to do all the amazing things that YOU have been doing? That’s impossible.”
“You know, Thomas,” said Jesus, “this is why I wanted you to be my disciples. So you can learn to do the things I do. The world has lots of people who need to hear about the kingdom of heaven, and lots of people who are sick, and hungry, and lonely. Helping them is a big mission. I need all of you to help.”
“But I’m afraid,” said Andrew. “What if I’m not very good at this?”
“You’ll have each other,” said Jesus. “I’m not sending any of you alone. Andrew, you’ll go with your brother Peter. James, you’ll go with your brother John. Matthew and Thomas, you guys go together. The rest of you pair up. You need to help each other every day!”
And they went out, two by two, to do the same kind of work they had seen Jesus doing.
Then afterward they came back and told Jesus all the wonderful things that had happened.
- I wonder what the disciples felt when they watched Jesus do all the wonderful things he did to help people?
- I wonder how the disciples felt when Jesus said he was sending them out to do the very same kinds of things?
- I wonder how it felt when they actually did those things on their mission trip?
- I wonder if you’ll go do the kinds of things Jesus did some day?
- I wonder which parts will be scary?
- I wonder which parts will be fun?
- I wonder who you’ll go with?
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