Jesus didn’t just serve during the good times. In the events leading up to his crucifixion, Jesus remained obedient and dedicated to serving God even though he was betrayed and faced unfair treatment. This lesson is part 1 of, “Jesus Served Through His Crucifixion” (Lesson 8 of the Servanthood series) and explores the preliminary events leading up to his arrest and crucifixion.
TARGET AGES: 9 – 13 Older Elementary. You may need to simplify this lesson when working with younger children.
CURRICULUM UNIT: This lesson is part of the Servanthood for Kids: The Life of Jesus
OBJECTIVE: To examine how Jesus served others and was obedient to God even as his death drew near.
MAIN IDEA: Jesus had plenty of opportunities and reasons to disobey God’s will for his life. However, he never stopped serving and continually trusted God through the events that lead to his death.
SCRIPTURE PASSAGES: Matthew 7:12 (review), Matthew 7:24-27 (review), Matthew 26:14-16, Matthew 26:1-2, Luke 22:14-16, Luke 22:34, Luke 22:54-62
MATERIAL(S): activity sheets (download here), writing utensils, poster board, bean bag
OPTIONAL: Jesus on the Cross Coloring Page
Introduction (5 minutes)
OPENING PRAYER: “God, we want to understand how Jesus willingly accepted your will for him to die on the cross. Give us the assurance and faith we need to trust in your will for our own lives. Amen.”
PREVIOUS LESSON REVIEW: Say, “Last week we discussed parts of Jesus’ ‘Sermon on the Mount’ to better understand how to serve. When we treat others the way we want to be treated (Matthew 7:12) and follow Christ’s teachings (Matthew 7:24-27) then we will be servants who honor God with our lives.” Remind students to share their faith as they serve like Jesus did through his healings, miracles, and teachings.
Lesson (25 minutes)
- Pass out the “Jesus’ Crucifixion (Part 1)” worksheets and ask the class to fill in the blanks as the lesson is discussed. Ask, “Does anyone know what the word, ‘crucify’ means? The definition is: to put someone to death by tying or nailing to a cross. Let’s write this definition on number one of our worksheet.” Explain that the Romans, those in power in Jesus’ day, were known for inventing extremely cruel and harsh punishments for criminals as an example of their strength and authority. Comment, “Jesus certainly wasn’t a criminal, but we’re going to learn about the events that lead to his death on the cross. We’re going to discover how Jesus continued to be a servant of God’s will even though it resulted in his death.”
- Explain that Jesus’ physical journey to the cross began with one of his disciples’ betrayal. Say, “After Jesus had spent so much time with his disciples – teaching, leading, and rebuking them – Judas Iscariot went to the priests and agreed to betray him (briefly clarify that the religious priests didn’t like Jesus because many people followed him instead of their leadership).” Read Matthew 26:14-16. Ask, “How much silver did Judas receive for betraying Jesus (30 pieces)? This is significant because it was the price of a slave! Judas, after encountering Jesus and having a relationship with him, turned him over to the priests as a slave.” Add that while Judas’ actions were certainly a part of God’s plan, he still chose whether or not he would betray Jesus. Comment, “Judas ended up hanging himself because of the guilt he felt after betraying Jesus. While God worked out the betrayal for his glory, we should learn from Judas that disobedient decisions can ruin our Christian testimony.” Check the students’ worksheets to make sure they correctly filled in the blanks for question two (ANSWERS: Judas, Iscariot, 30).
- Say, “Jesus told his disciples that he would suffer and die. Even though he faced upcoming trials, Jesus still served his disciples by trying to prepare them for what was to come.” Read Matthew 26:1-2, and Luke 22:14-16. Comment that servants must warn others about spiritual matters and not knowingly withhold information that could damage another person’s relationship with God. Say, “Jesus knew it wasn’t easy for the disciples to hear that he would suffer and die. However, a true servant does what’s best for others even if it makes them feel uncomfortable.” Make sure the students write the correct answers on question three of the worksheet (ANSWERS: disciples, suffer, crucified).
- Lastly, Jesus was a servant by warning Peter that he would deny him, but Peter didn’t listen. Read Luke 22:34 and Luke 22:54-62. Ask, “How did Peter react when he realized Jesus’ warning had come true (he left and wept bitterly)? What lesson can we learn from Peter’s disobedience (to be humble and accept what the Lord tells us, to be aware, to ask God for help through trials, that everyone messes up, etc)?” Check students’ answers for number 4 (ANSWERS: Peter, three).
Game (10 minutes)
Play “Jesus Bullseye” to review facts about Jesus. Prepare a poster board by drawing a large bullseye with point values in each circle (the point values should increase toward the center). Tape the bullseye to the floor and allow students to toss the bean bag from a distance. The students will receive the points where the bean bag landed if they answer their question correctly. Consider giving the next student in line an opportunity to earn points if the question is answered incorrectly. Whoever has the most points at the end of the game wins! Bring a small prize for the winner.
- Who baptized Jesus? (John the Baptist)
- Where was Jesus born? (Bethlehem)
- What was Jesus’ occupation before he started his ministry? (a carpenter)
- How many disciples did Jesus choose? (twelve)
- Which disciple denied Jesus three times? (Peter)
- Which disciple betrayed Jesus? (Judas Iscariot)
- What was the name of Jesus’ first sermon? (Sermon on the Mount)
- What was the first miracle Jesus performed? (turned water into wine)
- What was the first healing Jesus performed? (healing the official’s son)
- What was the name of the city where the first miracle and healing took place? (Cana – of Galilee)
- Give an example of a reward God will give us when we are obedient. (Peace, joy, security, etc.)
- Who should we serve first, second, and last? (God, others, ourselves)
Conclusion (5 minutes)
RECAP: Jesus’ entire life was about obedient service. Even as he made the journey to the cross, and was betrayed and denied by his own disciples, he remained obedient to God’s will for his life. So, no matter what others do to us, we too can be committed, obedient servants.
CLOSING PRAYER: “Lord, thank you for sending Jesus to earth to die for our sins. Help us follow his example by trusting you and serving others even when we face struggles. Amen.”
Servanthood Lessons in the Life of Jesus
This lesson is part of a 10 unit curriculum for older children (age 9 – 13) that follows the life of Jesus and explains how he was a model of serving others.