This children’s sermon from Acts 11:1-18 (and John 13:31-35) shows the importance of loving and sharing with all people. God used a vision to open Peter’s heart to outsiders who Jesus wanted to save.
Main Objective: This message will remind students of the importance of loving and reaching out to others, whoever they may be. Sharing the love of Christ is the most important commandment we can follow!
Law/Gospel Theme: The law includes a long list of rules…sometimes we are still drawn to examining life by rules and looking just right or doing the “good” things. The good news of the Gospel is that God’s grace saves us and is meant to serve all of us. The story in this message communicates to kids that God’s love is more important than stiff rules, and when we act in that love, many times the rules naturally follow!
Optional Materials: Stuffed animals or small animal toys; stickers (if you want something to pass out afterwards).
Note: All elements are open to
adjustment. Cater to the needs and ages of your group
Children’s Sermon: Peter’s Explains His Vision
Greet kids, and have toys handy but somewhat hidden …
Have you ever heard someone use the phrase “when pigs fly”? It sounds sort of silly, but is basically an expression that means something is impossible. Pigs don’t fly, since they don’t have wings and they’re too bulky to get off the ground. But do you know what? The awesome thing about the Bible is that a lot of times, we see the impossible happen… So watch out for flying pigs!
(Gently toss the stuffed animals into the air or towards—not at—the kids, playfully. If it is not too distracting, you can allow them to hold one during the chat. Or if you have small give-away items, they can keep them).
Well, the lesson for today sort of involved flying animals…it was about Peter. Remember him? The disciple who denied Jesus, but was forgiven, and worked hard for the church. Well, some people were criticizing him because he was hanging out with what they thought was the wrong sort of crowd. You see, back in those days there were a lot of rules. They had rules for what to wear, who to talk to, things they could or could not eat, places to go…rules for everything.
Some leaders approached Peter because they thought he was disobeying by talking with people who were not following the Jewish rules. So Peter told them about something that happened to him.
He had been praying on the roof, and saw a vision. In it, a whole bunch of animals was coming down, and a voice told him to go ahead and eat them! Well, these were the animals that Peter knew Jews weren’t supposed to have, so he thought it was a little strange and confusing. But as he kept praying, it happened again!
Was he just hungry? A third time he had this vision and heard the voice (three seems to sort of be Peter’s special number…). And then he received a visit from someone who wanted to know more about Jesus, but was not one of the rule-following Jews.
Peter realized that God wanted to let him know the good news of the Gospel is for everyone! It wasn’t just for those who followed the rules or did what the Jewish people did. Peter was explaining that the message of God’s love and grace needed to be shared with everyone. He knew it wasn’t about your background, but about life now.
In John 13:31-35, Jesus said the same thing. If you heard the Gospel lesson, He was reminding his disciples that they needed to love one another. He told them that they would not be recognized by words they said but by actions they did. The “new” commandment wasn’t so new at all, but is something we must always remember is important.
We need to demonstrate true care about people. This does not mean we have to accept and embrace things they do, or join in if they are acting negatively. But we can still show God’s love because He has made everyone and called us to value them. Let’s practice love for one another, and thank God for the good news we have.
Prayer: Offer thanks that we have the good news, and ask for help in
(Have kids repeat each line, if desired)
Thank you for the amazing stories of the Bible
Thank you for helping us share your good news with others
Help us understand and do that
Help us love one another
Thank you for Jesus!
In His name, amen
Bonus Teaching Ideas
The following lessons offer more ideas for teaching this passage to children.
- Compare our Sunday School Lesson on Peter & Cornelius
- We have a longer Bible lesson from Acts 11:1-18 intended for children’s church.
- Sermons 4 Kids covers this passage in their message titled “All the Children of the World” (offsite link)
- Dollar Store Children’s Sermons has a video lesson from John 13:31-35 for May 19, 2019 (offsite link)
The apostles and the believers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. 2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him 3 and said, “You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.”
4 Starting from the beginning, Peter told them the whole story: 5 “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. I saw something like a large sheet being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to where I was. 6 I looked into it and saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, reptiles and birds. 7 Then I heard a voice telling me, ‘Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.’
8 “I replied, ‘Surely not, Lord! Nothing impure or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’
9 “The voice spoke from heaven a second time, ‘Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.’ 10 This happened three times, and then it was all pulled up to heaven again.
11 “Right then three men who had been sent to me from Caesarea stopped at the house where I was staying. 12 The Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going with them. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man’s house. 13 He told us how he had seen an angel appear in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. 14 He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved.’
15 “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. 16 Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’17 So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?”
18 When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.”
When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him,[c] God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.
33 “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” -John 13:31-35