Use this children’s Sunday School lesson to teach students that God loves everyone, and so should we.
Intro Game: Disciple Tag
Choose one student to be It. When they tag someone, that person links hands with them and joins their team. They continue adding people to their team, linking hands with each one until all but one student is part of their chain. That remaining student becomes It for the next round.
Play two or three rounds and then, explain that when we tell people about Jesus, we want them to believe in Jesus too. If they do, they become a Christian and join our team. Then, they help us tell more people about Jesus.
Tell students, Imagine a foreign army coming to your county and attacking us and taking us over.
What would you do if that happened?
Would you try to be friends with the people who conquered you?
The Jewish people, the Israelites, had been attacked and conquered by the Romans, so the Jewish people hated the Romans for taking them over, and most Jews did not talk to Romans.
(Read Acts 10:1.)
“At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment.”
What was Cornelius’ job? (He was a Roman soldier.)
Did Jewish people like Romans? (No, because the Romans had taken over Israel.)
(Read Acts 10:2.)
“He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly.”
Did Cornelius believe in God? (Yes.)
(Read Acts 10:3-8.)
“One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, ‘Cornelius!’
“Cornelius stared at him in fear. ‘What is it, Lord?’ he asked.
“The angel answered, ‘Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.’
“When the angel who spoke to him had gone, Cornelius called two of his servants and a devout soldier who was one of his attendants. He told them everything that had happened and sent them to Joppa.”
What did Cornelius see? (An angel.)
What did the angel tell him to do? (The angel told Cornelius to send men to ask Peter to come to talk to him.)
Because Peter was a Jew and Cornelius was a Roman, do you think Peter would want to go talk to Cornelius? (No. Jewish people did not like Romans because they had taken over their country.)
(Read Acts 10:9-16.)
“About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. Then a voice told him, ‘Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.’
“‘Surely not, Lord!’ Peter replied. ‘I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.’
“The voice spoke to him a second time, ‘Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.’
“This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.”
Did Peter want to eat the food God was giving him? (No.)
But God told him to eat it anyway. Sometimes, God tells us to do things that we don’t want to do. Peter didn’t want to go talk to Cornelius because Cornelius was a Roman, and the Romans had taken over Israel. But God wanted Peter to go talk to Cornelius, so God was showing Peter the food to show him that you have to do what God tells you to do, even if you don’t like it.
(Read Acts 10:17-43.)
“While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon’s house was and stopped at the gate. They called out, asking if Simon who was known as Peter was staying there.
“While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, ‘Simon, three men are looking for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.’
“Peter went down and said to the men, ‘I’m the one you’re looking for. Why have you come?’
“The men replied, ‘We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to ask you to come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say.’ Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests.
“The next day Peter started out with them, and some of the believers from Joppa went along. The following day he arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. But Peter made him get up. ‘Stand up,’ he said, ‘I am only a man myself.’
“While talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. He said to them: ‘You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean. So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?’
“Cornelius answered: ‘Three days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon. Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me and said, ‘Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor. Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. He is a guest in the home of Simon the tanner, who lives by the sea.’ So I sent for you immediately, and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.’
“Then Peter began to speak: ‘I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears Him and does what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached—how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how He went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with Him.
“‘We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed Him by hanging Him on a cross, but God raised Him from the dead on the third day and caused Him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that He is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about Him that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name.’”
When Peter got to Cornelius’ house, what did he talk to them about? (Jesus.)
(Read Acts 10:44-48.)
“While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.
“Then Peter said, ‘Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.’ So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.”
What did Cornelius and his family and friends do when Peter told them about Jesus? (They believed in Jesus and were baptized.)
Peter told Cornelius about Jesus. Do you think God wants you to tell people about Jesus? (Yes.)
What about people you don’t like? Do you think God wants you to tell them about Jesus, too? (Yes.)
Just like Peter, God wants us to tell everyone about Jesus, even if we don’t didn’t like them. We have to remember that God loves everyone, even if they’re bad, and He wants everyone to hear about Jesus so that they can stop being bad and go to Heaven when they die. If we tell them about Jesus, maybe that will help them believe in Him and be better. But if we don’t tell them about Jesus, then they’ll just keep on being bad.
So, let’s tell everyone we can about Jesus so that they can believe in Jesus and stop doing the wrong things, and so that they can go to Heaven when they die.
Game: Peter and Cornelius
Choose one student to be Cornelius and 1-3 students to be Messengers. Cornelius secretly tells the Messengers to tag one of the other students. The chosen student is Peter.
When the Messengers tag Peter, Peter runs to Cornelius and tells that student something about Jesus. Peter then becomes the new Cornelius with new Messengers.
Father God, we thank You that You love everyone and want everyone to go to Heaven to be with You when they die. Help us to be like Peter and tell everyone about You, even if we don’t like them. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
You can also find this lesson for Kindle or in print in my book, The Rock.