The Little Engine That Could

In Sermon Ideas by Rachel Schultz

The Little Engine That Could


Key Passage: Luke 10:33: But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.Key Thought: The talented and beautiful may seem the most likely to be used by God, but if we allow him, God can use even the weakest and least of us for his work.

Scripture:  Luke 10:25-37: “The Parable of the Good Samaritan”

Children’s Story and Characters:

The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper (a pseudonym)

The Little Engine loves her job and has carried it out to the best of her ability for years. But suddenly is unable to go on.
The Shiny New Engine is a passenger engine that is fancy and sleek and clearly too pristine to carry children’s toys and food.
The Big Engine is a freight engine carrying important machines that do big important jobs and so obviously can’t stoop to carry that sort of freight.
The Rusty Old Engine is just too tired and says “I cannot, I cannot, I cannot.”
The Little Blue Engine is not very big and she’s never been over the mountain. She’s only ever done small jobs like switching engines in the yard. But she’s willing to try and says, “I think I can, I think I can.”

Parallels to Christians:

The Little Engine is like those who live their lives seeking God’s will and his purposes for their life. Sometimes called the “Pillars” of a local church. When one of these members passes away, the loss to the church can be huge. This is who we all want to be someday.
The Shiny New Engine is any Christian unwilling to break a nail or get their hands dirty. They spend their time focused on improving themselves, but don’t leave time to care for others or be the hands and feet of Jesus.
The Big Engine is a Christian who does work hard for the Lord, but only on the BIG things – church board, Sabbath school teaching or Ministry Leader. They won’t stoop to fill the sometimes obscure needs of the church – cleaning, working with children, visiting the sick.
The Rusty Old Engine might have been a “Little Engine” but both his attitude and choosing what he wanted to do rather than what God called him to actually created an exhausted Christian. The Rusty Old Engine can also be any Christian who repeatedly says yes to things they aren’t actually being called by God to do. A yes-man can become exhausted doing the good that might actually have been the calling of another in the body.
The Little Blue Engine is who we should all try to emulate. Maybe we don’t feel we’ve ever done anything important for God. But all God asks is that we answer when he calls and do to the best of our ability. Helen Keller said, “When we do the best we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another.”


Bible Story & Characters:

The Good Samaritan

The Priest, a spiritual leader, left his mind of service at the temple – the wounded man was “outside” of his sphere of responsibility.
The Levite, inferior to priests, but responsible for the liturgical service, had bigger, more important jobs to do for the Temple than worry about this wounded man.
The Samaritan, mortal enemy of the Jews and considered a half-breed, saw the wounded man as a human worthy of being cared for and loved.

Possible Questions to Address:

How can we be more like the Little Blue Engine/Good Samaritan?
What are the “children’s toys & food” that need help in your world?
What stops us from agreeing to carry the train over the mountain?
Who do you hesitate to stop and help?
How can we keep from becoming the Rusty Old Engine, tired of the work?
Does God provide us with skills to do his will or does he only ask us to do things we have skills for? Does he equip the called or call the equipped?
How are each of us like the wounded man, thrilled when, through our friends or enemies, God comes to rescue us?


The Little Blue Engine repeats, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”  Jesus teaches, “Go and do likewise.”  The Little Samaritan That Could might say, “With Jesus, I know I can, I know I can, I know I can.”

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