This is lesson continues our curriculum for preschoolers about knowing Jesus. Each lesson is based on a passage in the Gospel of Mark. You can read the series introduction for more explanation and links to the other lessons.
This particular lesson is from passages in Mark 15 where Jesus is on killed on a cross. This can be a sensitive and scary concept for younger children. Even so, it’s important to know how much it cost Jesus to pay for the sins of his people and earn perfect forgiveness for all his followers.
Bible Passage: Mark 15:16-47
Bible Lesson Title: Jesus is Crucified
Target Age Group: 4-5 years old (preschool & Kindergarten)
Target Time Frame: 40 minutes
Original Teaching Context: Preschool Sunday School
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Exegetical Idea: Jesus is crucified.
Pedagogical Idea: Jesus dies on the cross, taking our sin upon His shoulders.
Cognitive Aim: Preschoolers will know they can have complete forgiveness of their sins through Jesus’ death on the cross.
Affective Aim: Preschoolers will feel great love for Jesus who suffered so much for us.
Behavioral Aim: Preschoolers will praise Jesus through song and prayer, and will memorize His Word.
Memory Verse: Colossians 2:13-14, “You were dead because of your sins…then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He took away the record of the charges against us by nailing it to the cross.” (NLT, paraphrased)
- Kindle Curiosity (10 minutes) Description: Learn about crosses. Supplies: Bible outfits, wooden cross.
- God Revealed (15 minutes) Description: Hear the Scripture passage. Supplies: Bible
- Personal Pursuit (10 minutes) Description: Nail sins to the cross, worship the Lord through song, optional activity. Supplies: song The Power of the Cross sung by Stuart Townend (link found in section below), nails or tacks, hammer, wooden cross, small squares of paper, *chalk, bucket of water
- Daily Knowing (7-10 minutes) Description: Memorize God’s Word, pray. Supplies: Notecards with memory verse written out for each parent.
*For optional activity. See description below.
**Before the children arrive, have the Bible outfits ready.
1. Kindle Curiosity (5 minutes)
- Hold up the wooden cross.
- ASK: Do any of you know what this is? This is a cross. (Pass it around, encourage them to feel the wood.) Let me remind you what crosses were used for. During the time of the Bible, people who had done very bad things (criminals) were killed on crosses. It is a horrible way to be punished. The criminals would be forced to carry their cross to the place where they would be hung. Everyone who saw them knew they had done something very bad. This would be very embarrassing or shameful for the criminals. Then they would be nailed through their hands and feet to the cross. Does anyone know why the cross is important for Christians? (Jesus died on the cross.) Was Jesus a bad person? Did He do bad things? (No and no.) Jesus did not deserve to die on the cross, but He did it because of His great love for us and for God the Father. This was God’s plan from the very beginning. Because Jesus died on the cross, we can be forgiven of our sin and have a relationship with Him.
2. God Revealed (10 minutes)
- SAY: Today our lesson is found in Mark chapter 15. This is the Bible. It is God’s Word. He wrote it, so we know everything in it is true. Jesus has been beaten, spit upon, and mocked. He is in a lot of pain physically and knows He will soon die. This is a very sad story, but it helps us to love Jesus even more as we see the pain He went through so that we may be forgiven of our sins.
- SAY: After mocking Him, the soldiers led him out to be crucified. Jesus was very weak from being beaten. He fell while carrying the cross. It was bigger than Jesus and very, very heavy. A man named Simon was forced to carry it for Jesus. Then they led him out to crucify him. They brought Jesus to a place called Golgotha. Can you say Golgotha? It means “the place of the skull.” Here, they crucified Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the King of the Jews. They nailed Him to the cross and lifted it up for all to see. It was about nine o’ clock in the morning. Two criminals were also crucified at the same time as Jesus, one on His left and one on His right. Everyone who passed by Jesus shouted mean things to Him: “So! You are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days. Come down from the cross and save yourself!” The priests mocked Him to each other, saying, “He saved others, but He cannot save Himself! Let his Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe!” Mark tells us that those that were crucifying Him also hurled (like throwing your words, yelling) insults at Jesus.
- At noon, the sky suddenly went dark over the whole land! (Turn out light) It stayed dark for three hours. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). After this, with a loud cry, Jesus took His last breath. (Turn on light)
- The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom! And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” That evening, a man named Joseph asked if He could have Jesus’ body. He took Him off of the cross, wrapped Him in cloth, and placed Him in a tomb cut out of rock. He rolled a stone against the opening of the tomb.
- This is the saddest part of Jesus’ life! But remember that He did not stay dead! He conquered death and sin! We will learn more about this next week.
3. Personal Pursuit (15 minutes)
- Pass out small squares of paper to each child.
- SAY: We are sinners. It is impossible for any of us not to sin. Sin is anything we do to disobey God. What sins that all of us struggle with every day? (Write their answers on the board. For example, anger, lying, selfishness, disobeying parents, etc.) When Jesus died, He died for our sins. Our sins make us guilty. Jesus took the record of our sins away when He was nailed to the cross. He took the punishment, so we do not have to be guilty anymore. I want you to write down a sin that you struggle with every day and fold up your piece of paper. Then, one at a time, I am going to help you nail it to this cross.
- After this activity, lead the children to sing The Power of the Cross, sung by Stuart Townend
- SAY: We stand forgiven at the cross because Jesus chose to be obedient and die for us. Let’s pray together to Him now. (In your prayer, communicate your great love for Jesus because of His great sacrifice. Praise Him for the hope we have because He did not stay dead, but rose. All believers will one day be with Him forever.)
- OPTIONAL: Take the children outside. Write “GUILTY” on the sidewalk. SAY: Before we believe in Jesus and what He did for us, our hearts say GUILTY because of our sin.
- Give each child a turn to dump a bucket on the chalk. If it washes away the first time, write it again and let them all have a chance to wash it away.
- ASK: What happened when you dumped the water over the chalk? (Allow them time to answer.)
- SAY: When we believe and trust in who Jesus is and what He did on the cross, He washes our sins away, just like this water completely washed the chalk away. And not only are we now free from our sins, we are made righteous through Jesus, like we never sinned at all! This is amazing news! Because of Jesus, we can live a life free from sin and know God like a friend! (Take the children back inside for Scripture memory.)
4. Daily Knowing (10-15 minutes)
- SAY: It is very important for us to know God’s Word because it allows us to know His will. It also helps us to remember what Christ did for us and why it is important. Today we are going to memorize Colossians 2:13-14, “You were dead because of your sins…then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He took away the record of the charges against us by nailing it to the cross.” (NLT, paraphrased)
- Pray together. Remember the soberness of the lesson but the joy of Jesus’ resurrection and our redemption.
- Remind the parents how important it is for them to help their children review their verses all throughout the week. Encourage them to memorize the verse with their children. Provide each parent with a notecard that has Colossians 2:13-14 written on it.