This story provides the opportunity to talk with children about authority and power. Who holds power? What kind of power does Jesus possess?
At the beginning of your message, show the children an example of power and authority. You could lift your hands (in a gesture directing the congregation to stand) and/or ask the congregation to stand. Or you could work with the musician(s) to play a verse of a hymn, which will lead the congregation to sing. Ask the kids, “Why did everyone stand when I directed them to stand (or why did they start singing when the music began)?” Lead a conversation about who holds authority in the church. Do people follow directions simply because you or other worship leaders are in charge? Or do they stand because it’s part of the liturgy and a communal show of respect for God?
The centurion is a man who is used to holding authority. He directs the people around him every day and they have to respond–but he can’t lift the grave illness from his valued servant. He recognizes the power Jesus holds, and it’s possible he sends others to make his request to Jesus out of fear and respect. He’s so confident in Jesus’ ability to heal his servant, he believes Jesus only needs to speak a word in order to make it happen. And his belief in Jesus’ power amazes Jesus.
Who holds the power in our church and in our lives? Jesus. Encourage the kids to remember they’re showing respect for Jesus every time they stand up, sing, and pray in church. We don’t stand because the pastor and/or worship leaders are powerful, but because Jesus is powerful. And Jesus, through his power, loves us and cares for us every day.