Focus Passage: John 21: 1-19
Memory Verse: “Do you love me? Feed my sheep.”
Items for Preparation
-We can’t help it. Have a bag of fish-shaped cheese crackers with you, and also some paper cups, enough for everybody. Give each child a cup, and pour some crackers into them as you deliver your sermon. Kids will get to serve one another, rather than eating their own portions.
Read the adult lesson in the print edition of Nurturing Faith and additional material online. This is John’s version of our great commission, a good way to illustrate what Baptists have traditionally done to celebrate communion, being priests to one another by serving and being served.
[Hand out an empty cup to each child as you begin.]
Say: Jesus’ disciples were in their fishing boat one day after Easter. They couldn’t catch anything! Have you ever been fishing? [Allow for answers.]
Say: It can feel like the minutes are crawling by when you are fishing and no fish are biting your line. Jesus’ friends were not using fishing poles; they were using fishing nets. But they could see and feel the fish when they came into the net, a lot like feeling a fish bite the line on a pole. NO FISH were biting. They kept pulling their net up, and it was empty. It was a very bad fishing day.
[Now begin to pour some fish crackers into each kid’s cup.]
Say: Now don’t eat anything yet. Jesus’ best friends hadn’t had breakfast either, and they saw a fellow on the beach cooking, who yelled at them to take the net and put it over the other side of the boat. So they did, and, shazaam! They started catching lots of fish in their net! Some of the gospels say they caught 153 fish!
Say: When they got to the beach, they were close enough to that fellow who was cooking, and they saw it was Jesus. He asked them something very strange. He asked them the same question several times — do you know what his question was? [Allow for answers.]
Say: Jesus said, “Do you love me?” several times, mostly to Peter. This started to bother Peter, because he kept answering “Yes!” but still, Jesus kept asking! And every time Peter answered “Yes!” Jesus told him to do a very important thing: to feed Jesus’ sheep. To feed his lambs. To take care of his sheep.
Say: Now we are going to feed some sheep, because we love Jesus just as Peter did. Take your cup of fish, and give it to the person on your right. [Point out which side is on the right. Give them just a minute to figure this out.]
Say: When you give your cup of fish to that person on your right, say, “You are one of Jesus’ sheep! I am feeding you!” [Now, give a minute for them to do this. Let them get tickled. Maybe somebody will baaaaaa.]
Say: If you are one of Jesus’ sheep, you can eat some of the fish his disciples caught. If you are one of his disciples, then, do what Jesus told Peter to do, and feed his sheep. Look for chances to take care of other sheep.
Prayer: Say these words after I say them.
O God of Easter,
We are your children,
We are the sheep of your pasture,
We are Jesus-followers.
Help us to be faithful,
To catch many fish
And to care for many sheep,
In Jesus’ name, Amen.