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June 2011


Responding to the Call of Christ

Scriptures: Matthew 9:9-13 “As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.”

Preparation: You will need to arrange to have an obedient dog who loves crowds of people be ready at the back of the church to be called to the front. If you cannot get the dog to come when it is called, you may ask its owner to demonstrate the command, “Come.”

How many of you own a dog or know someone who owns a dog? (Ask for a show of hands.) Who can tell me some of the commands that an owner usually teaches a dog? (Children may offer answers like, “Sit,” “Stay,” and “Come.”) Is it important that the dog learn these commands? Yes, a dog does need to learn to obey and respect its master. And master does a lot for the dog. The master takes care of the dog, feeds it, brushes it, takes it to the vet if the dog is sick, and protects the dog from harm.

Imagine that a dog was running out into the street and a truck was coming very fast. The dog would be hit if it didn’t turn around quick and run to its master. What command could the master give to save the life of the dog? (Children may respond with the command, “Come.”) If the master shouted, “Come!” and the dog came quickly, before the truck got there, would the dog’s life be saved?

When Jesus told Matthew, the tax collector, to “Come and follow,” he was saving Matthew’s life. Matthew recognized that Jesus was the Savior, God’s only son, and he dropped everything and immediately followed Jesus.

Wouldn’t that be great if we could get a dog to demonstrate how the command, “Come!” is supposed to work? (Have a volunteer be ready at the back of the sanctuary, and a dog owner standing at the front near the children, if necessary.) Well, it looks like we have a volunteer. I will give the command, and let’s see what the dog does. Come!

(At this point, it helps to be flexible… if the dog comes immediately, then you can point out how helpful it is to have a well-trained dog. But if the dog becomes distracted on the way up to the front of the church, you can use that as an object lesson in how we often get distracted by different things on our way to following Jesus. After the dog has performed its part in the message, it will have to be called or led back outside or the rest of the message will be lost in a celebration of tail-wagging, giggling and sloppy kisses, which can be saved for outside after the service, of course.)

Jesus is like our owner. He loves us very much, provides for our needs, heals us when we are sick and protects us from things that are dangerous to our bodies, our minds and our souls. But we do need to learn to obey. God has commands or rules that help to keep us safe. If we listen to God’s commands and we follow them and obey, we avoid all kinds of troubles. The best possible plan for our lives becomes reality when we respond to the call of Jesus. When Jesus tells us to come and follow, just like He did with Matthew, the tax collector, the best thing for us to do is to obey.

Prayer: When you call us to come and follow you, dear Jesus, help us to respond joyfully like Matthew. May we  follow you to a life of service and joy in your kingdom. Thank you for loving us and taking care of us.

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