This children’s sermon on Matthew 4:12-23 is my retelling of the story of the calling of the first disciples. Stories in the Bible are often bare outlines of things that happened, leaving many details to our imaginations. One knows there must have been more conversation than made it onto the pages of the Gospels. What were the bits that were left on the apostle’s editing room floor?
Telling these stories always prompts me to imagine what those missing details were. That’s why there is dialogue and detail here that goes beyond what is mentioned in the Bible. My goal is to flesh the story out in ways that highlight its message.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about this children’s sermon on Matthew 4:12-23, as well as your suggestions! And you can find my Monday Meditation on this text through this link.
A Children’s Sermon on Matthew 4:12-23
Good morning kids! I’m so happy to see you here in worship today. Thanks for coming up to hear the children’s sermon.
Today we hear a story about how people first started to follow Jesus. We still think of Christians today as people who follow Jesus. This is the story of the very first people who followed him while he was still walking around Galilee and doing amazing things.
Andrew and Simon Peter
One day, just after Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, he went for a walk on the seashore.
As he walked along, he saw a boat a little way out from shore. Jesus saw that there were two men in the boat. They were fishing.
They didn’t fish with poles the way you and I might. They had a big net, and together they threw it into the water. Then they pulled it back to the boat to see whether the net had scooped up any fish.
Jesus called out across the water to the two men. He said something like, “Hey you guys! What are your names?”
They were pretty busy with their nets, but one of them shouted “I’m Andrew. And this is my brother Simon — people call him ‘Peter.’”
“Those are nice names,” said Jesus. “It looks like you are working hard. I’m curious: What kind of people are you?”
That was a kind of odd question — but Jesus always wants to know about people. Now, like I said, Andrew and Peter were working hard. They didn’t have much time for conversation. But Peter stood up and stretched his sore back and said, “We’re people who fish.”
Jesus smiled and said “Well, my name is Jesus. If you come and follow me, I’ll teach you to fish for people.”
When they didn’t say anything, Jesus said,
“Get it? People who fish — fish for people?”
“We get it!” shouted Peter. “It’s just kind of a busy time. We need to pull these nets in and all.”
Jesus said, “It’s always a busy time. And it’s always a good time to come on an adventure. Follow me!”
Peter and Andrew finished pulling in the net. They looked at each other for a minute. Then they took the oars and pulled for shore. They got out of the boat right then and there, and they started following Jesus.
James and John
As the three of them walked down the beach, they came to another boat. This boat was pulled up on shore, and three men sat nearby, working on their fishing nets.
“Hello there!” said Jesus. “I’m Jesus, and this is Andrew and Peter. What are your names?”
“I’m John,” said one of the younger men. “This is my brother James, and that is my father Zebedee.”
“I like those names,” said Jesus. “We’re going on an adventure. Why don’t you come along? Follow me.”
“Sorry, Jesus,” said Zebedee. “Our nets are in bad shape. They’re all torn up. We need to mend the rips so we can get back to work.”
“That sounds hard,” said Jesus. “There are always things that need fixing, though — torn nets, cuts and bruises, broken hearts. Sometimes the best way to heal things is to go on a new adventure. Come on! You can follow me.”
James looked up, kind of curious. “What kind of adventure are you talking about?” he asked.
“Come along. You can watch me heal sick people. You can help me feed people who are hungry. It’s all because God’s kingdom has come near.”
James and John looked at each other for a minute. Then they got up and walked over to Jesus.
Zebedee stayed with the nets. “Hey where do you think you’re going, you two?”
“I’m sorry dad,” said John. “We need to follow Jesus. We’re going to learn about God’s kingdom.”
And off Jesus went with his first four disciples.
I wonder what the four disciples were feeling as they started their new adventure with Jesus?
I wonder what Zebedee was feeling as he saw his sons leave him and their boat behind?
I wonder what happened to all the fish Andrew and Peter had caught that day?
I wonder what Peter, Andrew, James, and John learned by watching and listening to Jesus?
I wonder what kinds of adventures Jesus wants to have with you?
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