This lesson is the fourth lesson in a series of five that explore the theme “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” through Bible stories that each involve the sharing of a meal.
This lesson would work for Sunday School or Children’s Church. The introduction activity may be used as a children’s sermon illustration for this Bible story. Estimated length is 45-60 minutes.
By contributing writer, Nicole VanderMeulen, Children’s Ministry Coordinator at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church in Renton, Washington.
Children will experience the Passover story and explore how God saves his people and we use special meals like the Seder Meal at Passover and Holy Communion to remember God’s great grace.
Target Age Group: Children age 5-12 years
Bible Story: Exodus 12 The Passover
Explanation: The big idea is that when we gather together around food and drink, Jesus is with us too, and this unites and strengthens our Christian community. For churches that regularly observe the sacrament of Holy Communion, each of these Bible stories and lessons can be connected to the story of The Last Supper and the belief that Jesus told us to eat bread and drink wine together and remember him. Jesus invites everyone to his table for forgiveness and renewal, especially those who are far from him or have forgotten his love, and his hope for us is that we would do the same for others.
In the story of the first Passover, God saves his people. Many Jewish people today still celebrate and remember Passover with a Seder Meal. Christians gather around the meal of Holy Communion during worship to be reminded that Jesus gave his body and blood so that we will live forever.
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- Crown for Pharaoh, Staff for Moses
- Plastic flies (locusts) and frogs
- Aluminum foil balls (hail)
- Red dot stickers (boils)
- Paper, tape, red paint and brushes
- Bread Baking Supplies (bowls/measuring cups/recipe/etc.)
- Plastic Sandwich Bags
- Slice of Sandwich Bread
- Seder Symbols (stuffed lamb, red liquid, herbs, matzah, tunic, door, matches)
- The Prince of Egypt Movie
Introduction: Ask the children if they know how to play freeze tag and if they would like to play with you today. Explain that the game is played just like traditional tag, except when you are tagged by the person who is “It” you must “freeze” and remain still until another player comes to “unfreeze” you. After you play, discuss the game. How did it feel to be frozen? Who saved you when you were frozen? How did it feel to be the one freezing people? Who really saves us so that we can live forever in heaven?
Welcome the group to your “home” and invite them to sit on pillows around a low table. Explain that part of celebrating Passover is eating a meal together called a Seder and that during the Seder, the story of the very first Passover is told.
Many, many years before Jesus was born, God’s people were enslaved in Egypt. They were treated horribly and God was not pleased. God called Moses to go to Pharaoh and tell him to let God’s people go. (Get volunteers from the group to be God, Moses and Pharaoh. Have them act out the story.)
God: Moses, go to Pharaoh and tell him to let my people go!
Moses: (to Pharaoh) God says to let my people go!
Because Pharaoh was being stubborn and not letting God’s people go, God had to convince him. God sent several plagues to Egypt – God turned the water red, made all the Egyptian animals sick, and sent lots of frogs to jump all over the place. After each plague came, Moses went back to the Pharaoh to tell him to let God’s people go.
Allow kids to throw “hail” balls and flies and stick the sticker “boils” on Pharaoh. After each plague -
Moses: Let God’s people go!
After God had sent 9 different plagues, and Pharaoh was STILL keeping God’s people as his slaves, God knew that God would have to do something drastic. God told Moses what would happen. God told Moses to tell the people to pack to go quickly on a journey. They were to bake some bread without waiting for it to rise, and on a certain night, they were to kill a lamb and roast it. They should take the blood from the lamb and put it on their door post, and this would be the sign that the last plague should not come to that home.
Allow the kids to paint red paint on the (paper covered) doorpost to the room. Encourage them to think about keeping the people they love safe, as the people of God must have thought about during the first Passover. Invite kids to name the people they love, and say a prayer of thanks for their safety. After the prayer, invite Moses to go back to Pharaoh:
Moses: Let God’s people go!
Pharaoh: Go, take them and go!
God kept the Israelite people safe, and Moses led them to freedom. God told Moses, and Moses told God’s people to remember God’s blessings every year by telling the story again and by eating flat bread and lamb. That is why Jewish people, to this day, celebrate Passover with a Seder every year.
Activity: Prepare your room by setting out some bread baking props (bowls/measuring cups/flour/recipe/etc.) and place croutons around the room. You do not need to hide them, but they should not be so noticeable that the children would easily see them before you’re ready for them to.
Tell the children you want them to bake bread today. Encourage them to get started, but then after a few minutes say (EXCITEDLY!) “Stop and follow me!” Lead the children out of the classroom, down the hall, through the offices, etc., eventually returning to the room. When the class returns to the classroom, have them sit down and say, “When God set the Hebrews free, they left so quickly they never had time to finish making their bread. They ran to the desert and had to bake it in the hot sun. They had no time to put yeast in the dough to make it light and fluffy. God instructed the Israelites not to use yeast to make their bread right before he led them out of Egypt because there would not be time for the bread to rise before they had to leave.”
Tell the class that:
* The bread we are used to eating has flour, water, and yeast in it.
* Yeast is the ingredient that makes bread puff up. (Show the children a piece of regular sandwich bread and point out all the “bubbles” that are formed by the yeast.)
* When yeast is used in baking regular bread, the dough has to sit for a while to rise before it can be baked.
The Bible tells us that God gave the Hebrews instructions for the first Passover (that was when God led them out of Egypt) AND instructions for how to celebrate the Passover every year after that.
Listen to Exodus 12:14-15: “You must remember this day forever. Each year you will celebrate it as a special festival to the Lord. For seven days, you may eat only bread made without yeast. On the very first day you must remove every trace of yeast from your homes. Anyone who eats bread made with yeast at any time during the seven days of the festival will be cut off from the community of Israel.”
We are going to pretend we are Israelites about to celebrate the Passover. We are going to clean the yeast out of our room. Divide the class into as many groups as there are adults to help. (2-3) Give each group a small plastic sandwich bag and tell them to collect the croutons you have placed around the room and/or church. Instruct the children to look quietly and calmly. They should stay with their group. Give each group an area to look and give them 5 minutes to search their area.
When they return tell them that even today many Jewish families begin their Passover celebration by getting rid of anything that has yeast in it.
Scripture Exploration: God gave the Hebrews some other instructions for what to do for the first Passover and how to celebrate it every year after that. In this bag I have some object that are symbols of some of those instructions. Select a child to reach in your bag and select something without looking. Ask the child if they know what the object has to do with God’s instructions for the Passover. Read the scripture listed next to the object below.
Lamb- Exodus 12: 3, 5, 6, & 8
Red liquid (blood) – Exodus 12:7
Herbs (rosemary sprigs, basil leaves) – Exodus 12:8
Matzah – Exodus 12: 8, 15, 20
Tunic – Exodus 12:11
Small door from a children’s play set or a picture of a door – Exodus 12:7, 22
Matches or a picture of a fire –Exodus 12:9, 10
I wonder what would have happened if the Hebrews had not put the lamb’s blood over their doors?
I wonder what would have happened if the Hebrews had put yeast in their bread and waited for it to rise before they started to leave Egypt?
I wonder why God gave the Hebrews all of these special instructions for celebrating the Passover every year?
After the children have given their answers read Exodus 13:3 &16 to give them God’s reason for the specific instructions.
Movie: The Prince of Egypt -This movie has great clips that show how God told Moses to free the slaves in Egypt, how the plagues came when Pharaoh said no, and how the red doorposts helped the people to stay safe.
Communion Connection: When Jesus gathered with his disciples for the Last Supper, they were celebrating Passover. Jesus gave clear instructions that we should share wine and bread and remember him. This Communion meal continues to give Christians a way to gather together and remember Jesus’ saving power.
Prayer: Consider using a “repeat after me prayer”. Pause between every few words, allowing the children to echo what you have said. Dear God,/Thank you/for saving us./Help us/to remember/and celebrate/all you have done./Amen.