No Trespassing

Debts, Debtors, Trespass, Trespasses | Matthew 6:9-15

Prop: a No Trespassing Sign.

Hold up the sign and ask, “Have you ever seen a No Trespassing sign in a neighbor’s yard or on public property? 

Why do you suppose people put up No Trespassing signs? (Receive answers.)

A No Trespassing sign is a notice to people that they don’t have permission to step onto the property without permission from the owner. If people disregard the sign, oftentimes they could be fined or experience bodily danger, because vicious dogs or armed guards could be protecting the property against trespassers. In other words, it is a warning to stay away, so they don’t get hurt.

The word trespass is also found in Scripture; it means “a false step or sin.” In other words, it is disobedience against God's law, it is stepping into the wrong place or activity that God warns us against.

When Jesus taught the disciples to pray, he told them to ask God for forgiveness and to forgive others when they sin against them (Matthew 6:12). The New Testament was originally written in Greek. The word for sin in this part of Jesus' prayer is opheilema, which in English means “a debt that is owed.” This is why many English translations of the Bible say forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 

Let’s say the Lord’s Prayer now. (Read Matthew 6:9-13.)

However, it's important to note that some English Bible translations say, “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” And there is good reason for this too!

After Jesus taught the disciples to pray, he continued saying, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14–15).

The word for trespass in Greek is paraptomata. Do you remember the meaning of trespass? It means "a false step, a sin." And this is why some Bible translators use the words “trespass and trespasses” in the Lord’s Prayer, instead of “debts and debtors.”

Both phrases, debts and trespass, are important and help us understand what Jesus wants us to know about sin and forgiveness. First, we "owe a great debt" (opheilema) to God for our disobedience against him. The Bible says, “The wages of our sin is death” (Romans 6:23a). We cannot pay our debt to God. Jesus came to earth to die in our place, to take the punishment we deserve, to pay the debt that we owe to God, so we can receive the free gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23b)! And because Jesus did this for us, he wants his children to forgive others (our debtors). Jesus then continued teaching the importance of not "trespassing" (paraptomata) or “stepping into” the forbidden and dangerous territory of having an unforgiving heart. It's as if God is holding up a big "No Trespassing" sign, (hold up the sign) a warning, so we don't get hurt! God has forgiven us, therefore, we must forgive others.

Close in Prayer
“Dear Jesus, thank you for forgiving the debts that I owe you, and the trespasses of when I've gone the wrong way. Help me to forgive others, just as you have forgiven me. In Jesus name, Amen.”

Have you used this Children's Sermon? Let me know how it went! Email: sarah@sundayschoolnetwork.com 

Teach the Prayer of Jesus lessons to children. And learn how to download our Lord's Prayer poster, available in both versions--debts and trespass!
The Lords Prayer Bible Lessons

Copyright 2020 Sarah A. Keith

If you like this children's sermon, then you'll love It's in the Bag - 52 Bible Talks for Children's Ministry.
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