Use this children’s Sunday School lesson to teach children about how Jesus died for us to forgive us for our sins.
Needed: Bibles, rotten food, candy bars, newspaper or other paper, Silly Putty or the following: food coloring, white glue, liquid starch (like Sta-Flo for laundry), measuring cups, sandwich baggies
Intro Game: Taking Our Place
Divide students into two teams for a game of Freeze Tag. Choose one team to be It, chasing the other team. Then, choose one student from the team being chased. They are “Jesus.” They cannot be tagged. They can go stand in the place of a frozen team member, allowing them to run again. When “Jesus” takes the place of someone else, they must stay there for 3 seconds since Jesus was in the grave for three days.
Before the game, set a timer for 3 or 5 minutes, depending on how many students you have. If the team chasing the other gets everyone out within that time limit, they win. If they don’t, the team being chased wins.
Switch roles and play again.
Read Matthew 27:11.
“Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked Him, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’
“’You have said so,’ Jesus replied.”
Why did Pilate ask Jesus if He was the King of the Jews?
If Jesus was a king, He might have tried to take over the country and fight the Romans ,and Pilate can’t let Jesus start a war against the Romans because Pilate works for the Roman government.
Why did Jesus say that He is the King of the Jews?
Jesus is the descendant of King David, which means He is the rightful King. Jesus is also God, so He is the King of everything.
(Read Matthew 27:12-14.)
“When He was accused by the chief priests and the elders, He gave no answer. Then Pilate asked Him, ‘Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against You?’ But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor.”
Why didn’t Jesus answer any more of Pilate’s questions?
Jesus didn’t want to defend Himself. He knew He was supposed to let Pilate crucify Him so that He could die for our sins.
(Read Matthew 27:15-46.)
“Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus Barabbas. So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, ‘Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?’ For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him.
“While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: ‘Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of Him.’
“But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.
“‘Which of the two do you want me to release to you?’ asked the governor.
“‘Barabbas,’ they answered.
“‘What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?’ Pilate asked.
“They all answered, ‘Crucify Him!’
“‘Why? What crime has he committed?’ asked Pilate.
“But they shouted all the louder, ‘Crucify Him!’
“When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood,’ he said. ‘It is your responsibility!’
“All the people answered, ‘His blood is on us and on our children!’
“Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed Him over to be crucified.
“Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around Him. They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on His head. They put a staff in His right hand. Then they knelt in front of Him and mocked Him. ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’ they said. They spit on Him, and took the staff and struck Him on the head again and again. After they had mocked Him, they took off the robe and put His own clothes on Him. Then they led Him away to crucify Him.
“As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. They came to a place called Golgotha (which means ‘the place of the skull’). There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, He refused to drink it. When they had crucified Him, they divided up His clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over Him there. Above His head they placed the written charge against Him: this is Jesus, the king of the Jews.
“Two rebels were crucified with Him, one on His right and one on His left. Those who passed by hurled insults at Him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!’ In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked Him. ‘He saved others,’ they said, ‘but He can’t save Himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let Him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in Him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue Him now if He wants Him, for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’’ In the same way the rebels who were crucified with Him also heaped insults on Him.
“From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ (which means ‘My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?’).”
When Jesus was on the cross, why did He say, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
Jesus had taken all the sins of everyone in the whole world on Himself. He had to take our sins on Himself so that He could take away our sins for us and save us.
But having all those sins on Him meant that God didn’t want to be with Him. When we have sin in our lives, God doesn’t want to be with us because God doesn’t want to be around people who do bad things. If we ask for forgiveness and stop doing bad things, then God will come to be with us again.
(Read Matthew 27:47-61.)
“When some of those standing there heard this, they said, ‘He’s calling Elijah.’
“Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest said, ‘Now leave Him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save Him.’
“And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, He gave up His spirit.
“At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, ‘Surely He was the Son of God!’
“Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for His needs. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.
“As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.”
Give kids something unpleasant, such as a rotten banana or something. Have a row of good prizes lined up, like candy bars. Ask each child if they’d like to keep what they have (the bad thing) or trade it for one of the prizes. It should be a no-brainer.
After everyone has made their choice, explain that Jesus takes our sin and gives us the best thing of all, life forever with God.
Craft: Taking Our Sin
Have students make silly putty or bring some in for each student. Have them practice using the silly putty to copy print or pictures off of a newspaper or other printed paper.
After they’ve played with it for a few minutes, explain that Jesus took our sins on Himself when He died on the cross.
To make silly putty: Tell students to pour 1/4 cup of white glue, a few drops of food coloring, and 1/8 cup of liquid starch into a sandwich baggie. Close the baggie and knead the mixture with your fingers through the baggie until it gains the right consistency. If it is not hardening properly, add a little more liquid starch.
Game: Taking Our Place
Play the intro game again, reminding students that Jesus took our place when He took our punishment and died on the cross for us.
You can also find this lesson for Kindle or in print in my book, He Came, He Saw, He Conquered.