This lesson gives a look into Jesus’ heart as He prayed to His Heavenly Father prior to His arrest and death. With a comparison of all four gospels, we get a better picture of Jesus’ time in the garden and the actions of the disciples. It also a good exercise to understand how different Gospel accounts relate. These passages give a glimpse of the humanness of our Savior. This children’s church lesson about Gethsemane could also be modified and used as a Sunday School lesson.
Bible Story: Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane
Scripture: Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:39-46; John 18:1
Target Age Group: Age 7 – 12 (U.S. 1st – 6th Grade)
Time: 30 Minutes
Learning Context: Children’s Church
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Learning Objectives: After this lesson….
- Children recall the key people and events taught from the four gospels.
- Children identify what each of the gospels teaches about Jesus’ words and actions.
- Children identify the teaching of each of the gospels regarding the disciples during this time.
Curriculum Target Age: 1st – 6th grade
Visual Aids: Pictures of Jesus praying and disciples sleeping. Try searching those phrases on Google Images.
Listening Assignment: Divide the children into three groups. Since John’s account is short, assign one group the Luke and John passages together and ask them to listen and identify all the details regarding Jesus in the garden. Assign Matthew and Mark to two separate groups and ask them to listen and identify all information regarding the people and events in the garden too. When all the information is gathered, they will blend it all together for a full recording of Jesus’ time in prayer.
Garden of Gethsemane Lesson Plan
Establish the lesson briefly by explaining the key people and events in these passages and by showing pictures of Jesus praying and the disciples sleeping. Point out that Peter, James, and John were the three disciples closest to where Jesus prayed.
Highlighted points from each Gospel:
- Matthew 26:36-46: Jesus brought disciples to Gethsemane; told them to sit while He went to pray; took Peter, James, and John closer to His praying spot; Jesus was grieved and distressed and tells them how He feels and asks them to keep watch; fell on His face praying after leaving them behind; asks for cup to pass if possible; submits to Father’s will; found disciples asleep and speaks to Peter; asks if they couldn’t keep watch for an hour and asks them again; talks about weak flesh but willing spirit; prays second time for cup to pass and submits to Father’s will; found them sleeping again; returns to pray third time; returns to them sleeping and tells them time has come for His betrayal.
- Mark 14:32-42: came to Gethsemane; Jesus told them where to sit while He prayed; took Peter, James, and John closer as He became distressed; told them He was grieving and asked them to keep watch; went alone, fell to ground, and prayed; asked for hour by pass by if possible; said “Abba Father”; acknowledged all possible for Father and asked for cup to pass if Father’s will; found disciples sleeping; asked Peter if he was asleep and couldn’t he keep watch one hour?; asked him to pray and keep watch; warned about falling into temptation; said flesh weak, but spirit willing; told he prayed again, the same words; came and found them asleep again, and disciples didn’t know how to answer; prayed and came third time finding them sleeping; talks to them about sleeping and announces the coming of His betrayer.
- Luke 22:39-46 and John 18:1: told it was Jesus’ custom to come to Mount of Olives; disciples followed Him; came to place to pray, Jesus tells them to pray so they don’t fall into temptation; Jesus went about a stone throw distance away from them to pray; Jesus says if Father willing to remove cup, but wants it to be Father’s will; angel appears to strengthen Jesus; praying in agony and fervently; Jesus’ sweat became like drops of blood; Jesus fell on ground to pray; found disciples sleeping from sorrow; Jesus’ asks them why they are sleeping and talks about His concern about them falling into temptation; in John we’re told the garden was located over the ravine of the Kidron; Jesus went here with disciples.
When you’re finished reading each passage, use the pictures to review the important people and events. Ask for a response from each group regarding their listening assignment and write all the details they found on chalk/white board.
- Select a volunteer to put all the details together and retell the events as if it was written only one-way. Remember to prompt the child by asking, “What happened next?”
- Ask for a volunteer to explain the ways in which Jesus showed His humanness to us.
- Ask another volunteer to talk about the disciples’ response to Jesus’ request.
Give a list of points from the accounts and see if the children can identify which gospel that information was found.
- The name of the Garden. Matthew and Mark
- Name of disciple Jesus brought close to Him. Matthew and Mark
- Warned them about falling into temptation. Mark and Luke
- Sweat drops of blood. Luke
- Garden over ravine of Kidron. John
- Jesus spoke to disciples about falling asleep. Matthew, Mark, and Luke
- Jesus says, “Spirit willing but flesh weak”? Matthew and Mark
- Jesus is described being in agony. Luke
- Jesus mentions betrayer coming. Matthew and Mark
- Jesus asks for cup to possibly pass over. Matthew and Mark (Luke says removed).
- Mentions Jesus having an angel strengthen Him. Luke