This lesson is the third lesson in a series of five that explore the theme “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” through Bible stories that each involve the sharing of a meal.
This lesson would work for Sunday School or Children’s Church. The introduction and baby picture activities may be used as children’s sermon illustrations for this Bible story. Estimated length is 45-60 minutes.
By contributing writer, Nicole VanderMeulen, Children’s Ministry Coordinator at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church in Renton, Washington.
Children will experience the Breakfast on the Beach story and explore how Jesus continually reminds us of his power, love, and forgiveness, even when we have forgotten him.
Target Age Group: Children age 5-12 years
Bible Story: John 21:4-14 Breakfast on the Beach
Explanation: The big idea is that when we gather together around food and drink, Jesus is with us too, and this unites and strengthens our Christian community. For churches that regularly observe the sacrament of Holy Communion, each of these Bible stories and lessons can be connected to the story of The Last Supper and the belief that Jesus told us to eat bread and drink wine together and remember him. Jesus invites everyone to his table for forgiveness and renewal, especially those who are far from him or have forgotten his love, and his hope for us is that we would do the same for others.
In the story of Jesus appearing to the disciples on the beach, overflowing their nets with fish, and serving them breakfast, we are reminded of the way we continually turn away from Jesus, forgetting his love and power as we are consumed with our jobs, families, possessions, and so much more, and yet he’s always there to call us back and forgive us and provide us with an abundance.
- PRINT this lesson plan
- Baby Pictures
- Standard Playing Card Decks or Go Fish Decks (at least one for every 6 children)
- Foam Fish Craft Kit (or colored foam/paper, scissors, wiggly eyes, and decorating supplies)
- Large Craft Sticks (tongue depressors)
Introduction: Begin by asking each child to share their favorite good to eat for breakfast. Grab the attention of the group by “wondering” why no one said, “fish”. Tell the children that in today’s Bible story Jesus makes his friends, the disciples, breakfast on the beach. Ask them to listen and discover what Jesus made for breakfast.
Story: Have the children close their eyes and imagine being at the beach early in the morning. If you like, ask them what they might see and hear. Read John 21:4-14 from the Bible. Remember to use an engaging tone of voice, and stop to make remarks and ask questions, which might include: Why do you think the disciples didn’t recognize Jesus? What did Jesus ask the disciples? What happened in the end of the story? What helped the disciples figure out that it was Jesus? What did Jesus do for the disciples? Did you find out what Jesus cooked for breakfast? Do you think Jesus welcomes us back, even when we forget him or do not recognize him?
*Note in verse 7 of this story, it says Simon Peter was naked and put his clothes back on and then jumped into the water. This sounds pretty silly! Rather than omitting this line of the story, consider sharing it with your class and “wondering” together about this funny happening. Do funny and strange things happen in our lives? Do you think funny things happened during Bible times too?
Activity: Share some of your baby pictures with the children. If possible, request in advance for each of the children to bring their own baby picture to share. Talk about how you cannot remember the things going on in the picture, because you were too young, but the picture and your parents’ or family members stories help you to know about what you were like and things that happened to you when you were a baby. Compare this activity to today’s Bible story. The Bible says that this was the third time Jesus had appeared to the disciples after his death. Why didn’t the disciples recognize Jesus? How did Jesus help them to recognize and remember him? Do we forget Jesus sometimes? How do you think Jesus helps us to remember him?
Game: Play the card game, Go Fish. Split into several small groups, with 2-6 children in each, making sure that you have enough cards to provide one deck to each group. If you need directions about how to play, go here. Make sure to pair younger children with older ones that can help them, or provide an adult volunteer to lead each small group. Following adequate time for everyone to play the game, discuss how the game might connect to the Bible story. What did Jesus ask the disciples? (Have you caught any fish?) What did you ask others while you were playing the game? What did Jesus help the disciples do? What did others help you do during the game?
Art: Help the children make fish sticks! These aren’t the kind you bake in the oven to eat; they are bookmarks! Provide each child with glue, a foam fish craft kit or foam/colored paper cut into the shape of fish, wiggly eyes, and other decorating materials. After they have made their fish, attach it to the top of a large craft stick or tongue depressor. You could add Jesus’ words, “Come and eat,” to the stick with a marker. Invite the children to use their fish to mark John 21 in their Bibles and to share this story with their family at home next time they eat breakfast together.
Communion Connection: The disciples didn’t recognize Jesus. This was the third time he had appeared to them following his death, and yet his friends seemed too busy with their fishing to recognize their Lord. Jesus’ love doesn’t waver. He reveals his identity by using his power to overflow their nets with fish and welcomes them back into community with him by serving them breakfast. Jesus welcomes us back each week at the communion table, even if we’ve forgotten him.
Extending The Lesson: Consider helping your children to prepare and provide breakfast for their families or other members of the congregation or bake bread to be used for communion in worship from a simple recipe.
Prayer: Consider using a “repeat after me prayer”. Pause between every few words, allowing the children to echo what you have said. Dear Jesus,/Thank you/for your forgiveness/and for feeding us/and reminding us/of your love/even when we/have forgotten you./Amen.