This message opens the season of Lent with thoughts about what it means to prepare for something. The time that Jesus spent in the wilderness prepared Him for His earthly ministry. As we go through Lent, we keep our hearts and minds focused on Christ and we prepare for the celebration of His resurrection and His eventual Second Coming. We also keep in mind that God has a plan and purpose for our lives, and we can focus on Him to be prepared for whatever that might be!
Law/Gospel Theme: Jesus lived a life free from sin, but He was still tempted by Satan. He spent time in the wilderness for prayerful contemplation and preparation, knowing that His life would be spent serving and ultimately dying for our sake. Because Jesus went through temptation and overcame it, He is able to sympathize with our struggles and help in times of trouble, and to help us prepare for life’s challenges.
Optional Materials: “Camp-out” themed items: sunscreen, band-aids, backpack, water bottle, compass, flashlight, etc. (items that would be required for a trip in the “wilderness” or in a desert).
Bible Passage: Mark 1:9-15
Message: Note: As with most messages, the details of how you choose to communicate this are adaptable and should cater to timing as well as to your audience and student needs.
More Teaching Ideas for this Bible Passage
- Watch the video demonstration of this children’s sermon and related craft ideas
- Compare our full Mark 1:9-15 Sunday School Lesson
- Compare the children’s sermon on Mark 1:9-15 from rfour.org
Mark 1:9-15 Children’s Sermon: Prepare and Pray
Greet the children, outfitted with “preparedness” items:
Hello, children of God! How are you?
I am pretty excited, because I am getting ready to go camping! Have you ever been on an adventure outdoors? What kinds of things do we need to be prepared? Why don’t we take a peek in my backpack and see what I’ve got here. It’s important to be ready for anything when you’re going out into the wilderness! (Take out items one by one and describe as you look at them.) Let’s see, here’s a hat, for some shade…and I’ve got a water bottle, because it’s important to stay hydrated. Sunscreen here will prevent sunburn, and this extra pair of socks will be good if my feet get wet. I have hand sanitizer, and a few snacks, and I have a flashlight in case I need to find my way in the dark, and… (As you describe, pretend to get a phone call or message. You might even set an alarm so that the ring goes off, or have a friend in the congregation call you.) Oh, pardon me just a moment, I’m getting a call.
Hello? Yes, I was just talking about how excited I am to go camping in the wilderness, and….oh. Wait, what? A change of plans? We aren’t going camping… we’re going on a cruise in Norway?! Um…I think I need to adjust what’s in my backpack then. I’ll call you back later…..
Well, I was not expecting that. I’m not sure I’m ready for a cruise to Norway; I thought I was camping in the wilderness!
You know, sometimes we get caught off guard. It’s important to be prepared for anything that might come along. Jesus was prepared. Today’s Gospel is all about how He prepared for His work. See, we are about to enter a church season called “Lent.” Not the stuff in your belly button or your pockets (that’s lint). Lent is a time when we consider how we can love and serve God. We focus on the life that Jesus led and the things He did while with us on Earth. Jesus took a trip out into the wilderness. His purpose was to prepare His heart for the ministry God was going to have Him do. When He went into the wilderness, Jesus didn’t bring a water bottle or sunscreen with Him. In fact, He didn’t even bring food. For forty days he didn’t eat anything!!! I would be pretty hungry by the end of that time. Jesus was, too, and Satan came to tempt Him to make Himself a sandwich. But Jesus didn’t give in. He knew it was important to suffer, in order to save us and comfort us. He used His time in the wilderness to get ready for what was ahead.
And that’s our job too, preparing for what might lie ahead. During this season, a lot of people honor Lent by giving up something they enjoy, like TV or chocolate or soda. Sometimes people add things on to their schedules, like working with an organization or donating things. The idea is to prepare our hearts and minds. Rather than thinking about distracting things, we fix our focus on Christ. As we think about what He endured, we prepare our hearts to celebrate His resurrection at Easter. We also think about being prepared to live our lives for God. You never know what He might have in mind. His plans are usually different than what we might think. You might go camping in the wilderness, or you might go on a cruise to Norway! Whatever happens, we take extra time to pray, read our Bibles, go to church, and talk with others for wise advice. We prepare for Lent and prepare for anything!
Why don’t we say a prayer right now?
(Have kids repeat each line)
Thank you for sending Jesus to live a perfect life
Thank you that He can help us when we are tempted
Help us to prepare our hearts and minds
So that we can serve you and do your will
Thank you for your love
We love you, God!
In Jesus’s name, Amen!
Bible Verses/story to Reference:
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
12 The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.
14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” -Mark 1:9-15