Purpose: Use this children’s sermon on Jacob and Esau to teach kids how to ask for forgiveness.
Scripture: Genesis 32-33
Needed: an invoice from home (or make your own ) and a gift box (possibly filled with cookies, coloring pages, or other small prizes)
Show students your invoice and say, This is a bill. Do any of you know what a bill is?
A bill is something that you have to pay when you owe someone money. It would be wrong not to pay a bill. You owe someone money, so you have to pay it.
(Show your gift box.) How many of you know what this is?
It’s a present. Do you have to give people presents?
Sometimes, we feel as if we have to give people presents because it’s the nice thing to do, but there’s no rule that says you have to give someone a present. You don’t owe someone a present. You give someone a present because you want to, not because you have to.
So, you have to pay a bill because you owe it. You don’t have to give a present unless you want to.
Our story today is about two brothers. The first one owed something to the other, and the second one gave the first one a gift.
The story is about Jacob and Esau. They were twin brothers, the sons of Isaac and Rebekah. These brothers were very different from one another, and as they were growing up, Jacob did some very mean things to Esau. One time, Jacob did something so mean to Esau, that Esau wanted to kill Jacob!
Jacob had to run far away from home and go live with his uncle so that Esau wouldn’t kill him. And Jacob stayed with his uncle for over 20 years. He didn’t see his dad or his mom or his brother in all that time.
Then, one day, God told him to go back home. So, Jacob took his family and started going back to his family’s home. But, then, Esau heard that Jacob was coming back and he went to meet him with 400 men who all had swords!
Jacob was very afraid because he remembered all the bad things he did to Esau, and that Esau wanted to kill him.
What do you think Jacob should do? Should he run again?
The best thing for Jacob to do is exactly what he did. He apologized to his brother. He sent him sheep and goats and camels and donkeys and cows to say he was sorry for all the wrong things he did.
You see, he owed it to Esau to say that he was sorry.
Esau saw that his brother was sorry, and then gave him a gift.
(Read Genesis 33:4 , quoted here in the NIV.) “But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept.”
Instead of hurting his brother, Esau hugged him and forgave him. He gave Jacob the gift of his forgiveness. He didn’t have to forgive Jacob. He did it because he wanted to.
To me, this story shows that when we do something wrong to someone else, we owe it to them to say we’re sorry. And when someone tells us that they’re sorry for what they did, we should give them the gift of forgiving them.
Father God, we thank You that You always forgive us when we ask You to. We pray that You’ll help us to always ask other people to forgive us when we do something wrong to them too. And help us to be like You and forgive other people when they ask us to. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
(If you placed a gift in your gift box, open it now and give it to the children.)
You can also find this children’s sermon for Kindle or in print in my book, The People Build a Tower, but God Builds a Family