This week’s reading brings some really useful practical advice. Especially if you have more than one child at home.
We always hear and tell our children to live like Jesus, and sometimes it’s hard for kids to figure out exactly how or what to do. This week will give them some ideas about conflict resolution and forgiveness.
Monday 3/4 – A Good Catch
- Today’s story is one that should resonate with your kids – maybe especially with the youngest ones because the miracle is so cool! But the story itself is a little complicated.
- The collectors of the temple tax are not the hated “tax collectors” we hear about so much. They didn’t work for the Romans. They were collecting money for the upkeep of the temple and it was expected that all Jews would give two drachmas. So these were the good guys.
- You can explain to your kids that the collectors of the temple tax were like the people passing the collection plate in big church. And since Jesus was getting a reputation as someone who was stirring up trouble, they wanted to know if he would pay. And so Peter says “Yes,” Jesus is a good guy and he does put money into the collection plate.
- But Jesus tells Peter it’s not so simple. He teaches Peter that those who love Jesus don’t really have to put money in the collection plate to be saved, because children of God are “exempt” or free. But even though Jesus and Peter don’t have to pay, they still will pay because they love their community and therefore they want to pay. God’s love is free and God’s children are “exempt” from having to pay anything to get close to God. But because of the free gift, God’s children want to give their money to God.
- And then Jesus does one of his coolest miracles – ask your kids to imagine how they would feel if someone told them to do this and it came true! What a good catch Peter had that day!
Tuesday 3/5 – Little Children and Wandering Sheep
- We’ve seen it before and we see it again here: Jesus loves children! In fact, in the opening story of today’s reading, Jesus says that little children (and adults who are like little children) will be the greatest in heaven! Jesus also says that if an adult is kind to a little child, then that’s the same as being kind to Jesus!
- Talk to your kids about how much God loves them and how important they are to God. How does it make them feel that they are the greatest in heaven?
- In the second story Jesus shows us why little children are so important – because they truly love God and believe in him. Grownups talk too much and get too busy with boring things. All kids know this. Kids focus on big facts. Kids understand that Jesus loves them. And Jesus says that to help grownups be more like kids, they should get rid of anything that distracts them from the big facts that kids know.
- Finally, Jesus says little kids are like sheep. They need people to protect them and make them feel safe. Amazingly, Jesus says that if there were 100 sheep and one of them got lost, he’d leave the 99 and go find the one. God doesn’t want even one little one to get lost.
- Ask your kids how they feel knowing that God would always go looking for them if they got lost.
Wednesday 3/6 – My Sister Is SO ANNOYING!!!
- Sometimes people do things that are mean and make us mad. Even our brothers and sisters do this. (Especially our brothers and sisters do this!) But what should we do if our brother or sister hurts us and makes us mad?
- Jesus’ story is often magnified to be read specifically about church relations – and it’s certainly about that. But yesterday Jesus taught us that sometimes we need to see the world as a child. Your children will hear this story as “brother” and “sister” and you know what? That’s exactly what it says – so keep it literal with your kids.
- So what does Jesus say to do if your sister makes you mad? Does Jesus say you should hit her? Call her names? Run to mom or dad and tattle tale? No! Jesus says you should go talk nicely to your sister and tell her how she made you feel. Hopefully she’ll listen and say sorry and you can be friends again! If not, then you can go get mom or dad or a teacher and explain what happened when you’re not so mad. Doesn’t that sound better than getting into a fight with your sister right away?!
- Also, and this is so cool, Jesus says that where two or three people get together in his name, he is there with them. What?!?! So when you go to your sister and tell her she hurt your feelings, if you go to her with love for Jesus in your heart, you can really have Jesus there with you when you try to make friends again. Isn’t that so cool? And doesn’t it make you want to get along with her if you know Jesus is there too?
Thursday 3/7 – Do I Have to Forgive My Brother???
- Yesterday we learned how Jesus wants us to act when our brother or sister makes us mad – remember that we’re supposed to go talk to them with love for Jesus in our hearts and try to make friends. Well today, Peter asks Jesus how many times he has to do it. Peter says, “my sister is so annoying and she’s mean all the time. So how many times do I need to go be nice to her, like seven times?” And Jesus says, no way dude – 77 times! Basically Jesus is saying we have to forgive INFINITY TIMES. That’s a lot of times!
- But why? Why infinity times? Jesus tells this really cool story about how a king forgave a man who owed him 10,000 bags of gold – that’s like millions of dollars – but then that same man wouldn’t forgive someone else who owed him like a hundred bucks. The king of course got SO mad when he heard about that. So think about it this way, every single bad decision you’ve ever made – every time you said a bad word, every time you were mean to a friend, every time you lied – you are owing something to God. But we know that Jesus will forgive us if we ask him. That should make us feel amazing and make us want to forgive other people too! But how do you think God will feel if after he forgives you for every bad thing you ever did, you won’t forgive your sister for being mean to you one time?
Friday 3/8 – One Flesh
- Today’s reading could be a difficult topic for some of our families (and that’s not even mentioning the whole eunuch thing, which is probably not suitable for young viewers!)
- In whatever way is best for your family, teach your children that marriage is a very special gift from God and that with only a few exceptions God hopes that everyone who gets married will stay married forever.
- God cares about everyone and he cares about our relationships.