Use this free Sunday School Lesson on God’s Heavenly Invitation in your kids church or Sunday School class. Don’t miss our complete Acts 10:34-43 Sunday School Lesson and related Children’s Sermon Object Lesson. You can also find bonus teaching help for the Gentiles Hearing the Good News lesson.
This lesson reminds students that God wants ALL of us to be part of His family, and loves us dearly! The story of Peter and Cornelius is a wonderful picture of how Christ died for all people. The subsequent speech by Peter (featured in this section) assures us that everyone is loved by God and can receive salvation from Christ. We might have favorite friends or cliques, but God considers us all His children and wants us to know Him. No matter who we are, everyone is invited to be in His Heavenly kingdom!
We might sometimes think that we have to be a certain way or say or do special things in order to be chosen by God. We see in His Word these beautiful promises reminding us that God wants everyone to be His! He chooses all of us, and we can share that wonderful news with others, just as Peter did.
Passage: Acts 10:23-43
Target Audience: Kindergarten-6th grade (better geared to older grades)
Materials Needed: Construction paper, markers, stickers, scissors, tape/glue, paper bags, paper bags, animal crackers, invitations, pipe cleaners, decorations (all optional, depending which activities you choose to use).
Lesson Opening: This lesson features a special event in Peter’s life, reminding us that God chooses all of us to be in His family. It’s a fun story with a great message. To get started, select from one of the following openers, or select another of your own choosing!
- Pigs on parade: in honor of the vision Peter had (animals being lowered on a sheet), play a fun game that allows kids to toss stuffed animals! Split the class into at least two groups (more, if you have several students), and give each group a large blanket or sheet. Provide students with stuffed animals, and invite them to toss the animals from one blanket to another, catching them on the receiving end. To make things more interesting or challenging, encourage groups to back farther away from each other, or toss multiple animals at the same time.
- Invited… look at examples of party invitations, and discuss what it means to be invited to a special celebration or event.
- “I’m going to a party…” to continue the invitation theme, play a memory game. Invite students to sit in a circle and take turns saying “I’m going to a party, and I’m bringing…” and selecting an item that begins with the same first letter as their names. Students should subsequently repeat what previous students listed before adding their own items. For younger students, simply list individual items one at a time without the repeat element.
- Peter’s pigs relay race…this story includes people being sent for and arriving. Have students line up for a relay race and take turns scurrying back and forth across the room, exchanging a stuffed pig or figurine as they go.
Explain that this lesson is about something that happened in the book of Acts, which comes right after the Gospels that tell us of the life of Jesus. In Acts, we see the followers of Jesus carrying on His ministry and telling others about Him. This story is about the disciple Peter, and it reminds us that we are all called to be followers of Jesus and to tell others about Him.
Ask: Have you ever received an invitation to something? How do you decide who to invite if you’re having a special event?
Acts 10:23-43 Peter and Cornelius Bible Lesson for Children:
Use whatever translation best suits you and your audience. The passage can be a bit lengthy, so choose which parts you’d like to focus on and summarize other elements. This story is a great one to act out as a large group, or throw interactive elements into the telling. These things are great for younger students in particular. Or for any audience, consider reading out loud, pausing to discuss elements.
Depending on where you are starting in the chapter, you might need to provide some of the background explanation, describing rules of cleanliness and thoughts on Jews as the only chosen people of God, as well as the vision that God gave Peter.
The next day he rose and went away with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa accompanied him. 24 And on the following day they entered Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25 When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. 26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am a man.” 27 And as he talked with him, he went in and found many persons gathered. 28 And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean. 29 So when I was sent for, I came without objection. I ask then why you sent for me.”
Ask: Have you ever had a strange dream?
Many times in the Bible, God gave people dreams or visions that explained to them important things. Peter had been given one of these visions, and he realized that God was telling him all people were part of His family. So he was not too surprised to find Cornelius (God had told him about that, too), but he wanted to make sure not to take too much credit or undue adulation. Peter recognized an opportunity when he saw it, and began to explain why he was there.
And Cornelius said, “Four days ago, about this hour, I was praying in my house at the ninth hour, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing 31 and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. 32 Send therefore to Joppa and ask for Simon who is called Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea.’ 33 So I sent for you at once, and you have been kind enough to come. Now therefore we are all here in the presence of God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.”
Cornelius here explains his experience. He, too, heard directly from God. Cornelius was not a Jew, but he believed in God and wanted to know more about Him. Cornelius not only sent for Peter, but gathered others around him to hear what the apostle had to say. He knew it would be important!
Ask: If you were going to invite someone famous or special to your house, who would you pick?
Peter knew that God wanted him to tell people about Jesus. God had not just called Jews to have faith, but wants all people to know Him. Peter started out, as he usually did, by explaining who Jesus was and what He had done.
So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36 As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), 37 you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. -Acts 10:34-38
This story lets us know that we are all in God’s family! We don’t even have to do anything but accept that fact. God wants each and every one of us to enjoy Heaven with Him one day. It doesn’t matter where you were born, what you do, what you’ve done, or anything else. Jesus came to live and die for ALL people. This includes us, and encourages us to invite others to know the Lord. It’s not an exclusive club. We are all God’s children!
And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” -Acts 10:39-43
Ask: Have you ever told someone about Jesus? What do you say when the topic comes up?
Talk about how important it is to share God’s love. It doesn’t mean we have to beat people over the head with John 3:16, but we can explain the wonderful things that Jesus does for us. We can also show with our care and our lives how much we care about the Lord and His people. It is a blessing to know that He invites us to be His. This is such great news, we can’t possibly keep it to ourselves. Let’s be ambassadors for Christ!
Pray: Thank God for inviting all people to be part of His family. Praise the Lord for His faithfulness, and ask for courage in sharing His love with others.