Today we begin our Easter stories. Today’s story can be found in Matthew 21.
Jesus was coming to Jerusalem for Passover (the biggest holiday of the year where the Israelites remembered how God led them out of Egypt away from the bad Pharaoh.)
Jesus sent two of His disciples into the city to find a donkey for Him to ride into town. Jesus had told the people He would be their king, so the Israelites expected Jesus to come on a big horse with a crown. They thought He would get rid of the rulers in Israel and He would be their king. But Jesus came to be King of our HEARTS. He came to serve us and to love us, so instead of coming on a big fancy horse, He rode into town on a little donkey.
Lots of people came to see Jesus! They put their coats on the ground so Jesus and His donkey wouldn’t get all dirty and dusty. They waved branches from the palm trees and shouted “Hosanna!” Which is a way to praise God. “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”
Many people were very excited to see Jesus, but the leaders were not. They thought Jesus was coming to take their place. “WE are supposed to be the most important people around here!” they whined. “We MUST get rid of Him!” And so they started to make a plan to kill Jesus.
That was exactly what God was planning. God knew Jesus had to die in order to take our sins (bad choices against God) away from us. The people didn’t know that yet, but Jesus knew. He was coming to Jerusalem to save ALL our hearts.
For our craft today we made palm branches. We cut out palm branch shapes from green construction paper and then practiced fringing with scissors. Then we wrote the word “Hosanna” (the kids spelled it how they wanted).
Jesus Arrested Matthew 26; Luke 22 After Jesus had supper with His disciples, He sent Judas away to do what he had planned to do (bring the leaders to Jesus so they could capture Him.) The leaders wanted to capture Jesus and kill Him because they didn’t like Him. They were jealous of how much the people liked Jesus and they were worried He would try to be king above them. Jesus told His disciples He wanted to pray, so they went out and Jesus asked His disciples to wait for Him while He talked to God. Jesus knew what was about to happen and He asked God if there was ANY other way to do it. He knew He was about to die for our sins…and that it would not be easy or happy. But God said…it has to be this way. When Jesus was done talking to God, He went back and found all the disciples sleeping. He told them they should also get up and talk to God…because what was about to happen was going to be REALLY sad and they all needed God’s strength. Then, Judas came back with the leaders who didn’t like Jesus. Judas walked up to Jesus and kissed Him (this was the special signal they had worked out.) Then the guards knew whom to take. They arrested Jesus and His disciples said, “should we fight?!” But Jesus told them to put down their swords. He knew if He wanted to, He could call a whole bunch of angels to come and help Him…but He was obeying His Father, God. Discussion: Why did the leaders want to capture Jesus? How did Jesus feel when He was praying? Why didn’t Jesus try to get away? Talk about how sometimes it seems like God has weird plans…things we don’t understand. But no matter what, we have to trust Him…like Jesus did.
Jesus on the Cross/Good Friday Matthew 27; Luke 23; John 18-19 After Jesus was arrested, Judas (who had betrayed Jesus) was very VERY sorry for what he had done. Most of the disciples were scared and ran away, but a couple stayed nearby and watched to see what would happen to Jesus. The guards took Jesus before the Roman Governor (like a president), named Pilate, and said “here He is! He says He is God’s son! And He’s been causing trouble!” Pilate said, “well…ARE you the King? Are you here to save these people?” “I am” Jesus said. Then Pilate sent Jesus to another leader, named Herod. He was in charge of all the Jewish people (like Jesus). Herod had heard a lot about Jesus and he wanted to see Jesus do some cool miracles. But Jesus remained silent. So Herod and his men started being mean to Jesus. They said mean things and hurt him and then they sent Him back to Pilate. Pilate said, “I can’t find anything wrong with this man. You don’t like Him…but He’s not a bad guy. Herod even sent Him back…so…I have to let Him go.” The people did not like that. The leaders wanted Jesus to die because they were jealous of how much the people liked Him and they worried Jesus would try to take over as ruler. The people were now upset because they WANTED Jesus to be their king…but Jesus never came to earth to be a king…He is king in our hearts and He made and rules over everything…but He never meant to be a king on earth. So now all the people were mad and they yelled and said “you must kill Jesus!” Pilate didn’t want to argue anymore…so he had Jesus taken away to die. The guards there were even more mean to Jesus. They hurt Him and put a painful crown made of sharp thorns on His head. Then they made a cross (like a letter T) out of two BIG pieces of wood and they made Jesus carry it on His back all through the town and up to a hill. They put the cross up on the hill and there were two other “bad guys” who had to die that die because they had made some very very bad choices. Their crosses were put up on either side of Jesus. They took nails and put them through Jesus’ hands into the cross so He was hanging there on those pieces of wood. There were many people there who were glad Jesus was dying…but there were also some who believed in Jesus and they were very sad to see Jesus on the cross. One of the men on the other crosses also believed in Jesus and asked Jesus to forgive him for his bad choices. Jesus said yes, He would forgive the man; and because the man believed in Jesus, that when he died that day, he would get to live in heaven with Jesus forever. The most important part about this day is what happened to Jesus on the cross. God put all the bad choices (sins) of all the people (even you!) on Jesus that day. Jesus was perfect…He is God and God’s son and so He NEVER sins. Sin is anything not perfect, so Jesus had to separate from God to take all the not perfect things on Himself. This meant He was apart from God on the cross. That was the saddest part for Jesus. BUT, because He obeyed God and took all our bad things on Himself, then when God sees us…He no longer sees those yucky things…He only sees perfect, beautiful Jesus. If we believe in Jesus and that He died for us, then God forgives us for our bad choices…because Jesus took them for us. When Jesus had taken all our sins on Himself, He asked God to forgive the people (and us) and then He died. The sky became dark and there was an earthquake and it shook the temple (the church) and God tore open the big curtain that was inside. The curtain used to separate the front and back parts of the church and only one man, one time a year could go to the back part of the church to talk right to God. We used to be apart from God, never being good enough to live with Him in heaven…(like the curtain separated the front and back parts of the church), but since Jesus died for us, now we can be forgiven and live with God forever. Then some of the people who still loved Jesus, took his body, wrapped it up and put his body in a tomb or grave (like a cave). They put a gigantic stone in front of the entrance so nobody could do inside. The leaders were worried about something happening, so they made guards stand in front of the tomb day and night. Discussion: What did the people do to Jesus? Why did Jesus have to die? Activities:
Write Jesus a thank you note
If you have resurrection eggs…you can talk through them with your child(ren) and let them tell you what they remember of the story
We made these scenes of the cross. Paint and cutting some strips of black paper and gluing them to show a simple picture of what happened that day.
He’s ALIVE! Matthew 28; Mark 16; Luke 24; John 20 On Sunday, after Jesus had died, some of the women who loved Jesus went to the place where His body was buried (they were going to put some oil and smelly-good spices on his body). That morning, there was another earthquake. An angel from God rolled away the stone and sat on top of it. The guards were so scared they fell down and passed out. When the women came to visit Jesus they were also scared of the angel but he said, “don’t be afraid. Why are you here? Jesus isn’t here!? He’s ALIVE! See? Just like He said…He’s alive! Now go tell the disciples!” Jesus not only died for our sins…but He didn’t stay dead! That shows us that Jesus has power over sin, and death and life…and eternal (or forever) death and life. He didn’t just die…He lived again. And because He lives, that means He has the power to let us LIVE forever too! There is NOTHING God can not do! Discussion: What happened on Sunday after Jesus had died? What does it mean that Jesus didn’t stay dead? How does that make you feel? What do you think of this story? Activities:
We will be making roll away tombs. Draw the tomb on a piece of paper. Cut two slits next to the tomb. Cut out a circle stone and attach a long strip of heavy paper or card stock to the circle. Feed the long strip though the slits in the paper so that the stone can slide in front and away from the tomb.
3. We also made a resurrection cake: (use a cookie cutter to cut a hole in the middle for the empty tomb then frost over the top) When you cut into it, it reveals an empty middle.
In my first Easter post, we discussed the real meaning of Easter and WHY Easter is important.This time around, we’ll be focusing on the story from Palm Sunday-Easter Sunday.
Matthew 21; Mark 11; Luke 19; John 12
Jesus was coming to Jerusalem celebrate the Passover (a traditional meal, holiday, and time when God’s people remember how He saved Moses and the Israelites out of Egypt). When Jesus got there, He rode into town on a donkey.
Now, most people thought Jesus was going to rise up as a wonderful, majestic King. We know Jesus is the King because He is God’s son…but the people in Jerusalem thought He was going to be an earthly king who would be in charge of everybody and make all the rules. They were excited…and also surprised that He came on a donkey…dressed in regular clothes. (Later in the week, when they realized He would NOT be their earthly king, they got mad and made some bad choices.)
Most of the people gathered together and shouted and laughed and some even spread palm tree branches on the ground as a covering from the dust and dirt. That’s why it’s called Palm Sunday. They shouted “Hosanna” which means “save us!”
The leaders (the chief priests and teachers) did NOT like the people calling Jesus “King” and asking Him to save them. They did not believe He could be God’s son. They were jealous and angry and starting making plans to get rid of Jesus.
How is Jesus like a king?
How was Jesus NOT like a king?
What did the people do when Jesus came to town?
How did the leaders feel about Jesus?
Trace your child’s hand on green construction paper and glue or tape that to a pipe cleaner, popsicle stick or outside stick to make a palm branch.
Washing the Disciples’ Feet
Jesus was in Jerusalem for the Passover and had spent some time teaching and talking with the people—telling them how God wanted them to live and preparing them for what was about to happen.
In those days, people wore sandals and walked around in the dirt…so their feet were always yucky. It was usually the servant’s job to wash someone’s feet, but Jesus got down and He washed His disciples’ feet. (The disciples were Jesus’ main followers and helpers). They were all very surprised and said “No Jesus! We should wash YOUR feet!” But Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you will not belong to me.” Jesus wasn’t just washing the dirt off their feet, He was talking about washing the dirty sin from their lives. He said we have to let Him wash away all our bad choices—without Jesus, we cannot be truly clean in God’s eyes.
Then Jesus told His disciples “Now that I have washed your feet, make sure you also wash each others’ feet.” Jesus was saying that if you want to really follow God, you have to be a servant and help other people, like Jesus did.
Everyone expected Jesus to come as a high and important king…and instead…He just helped people. There was no job too dirty for Jesus. He would do ANYHTING God asked Him to do.
What did Jesus do for the disciples?
What did Jesus SAY to the disciples?
What does this story say WE should do if we love God? (If your child is old enough, you can make a list of ways to serve others)
Wash the feet of the people in your family—talk about having clean feet, and clean hearts.
Paint the bottom of your child’s feet and make prints on a paper. Write John 13:8 on the picture to help you remember how much we need Jesus.
The Last Supper
Matthew 26; Mark 14
When it was time to eat, Jesus sat down with his 12 disciples (His followers and helpers). One of the disciples, Judas had made a bad choice and had decided to betray Jesus and to give Jesus to the teachers and leaders who didn’t like Him. Jesus knew this was part of God’s plan.
Jesus knew this would be the last time He would eat with His friends—He took some bread and broke into pieces and gave some to everyone and told them “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then He took some wine and everyone drank some wine, then Jesus said, “This is my blood that will be poured out for you…for the forgiveness of your sins.” The disciples didn’t know what Jesus meant. He was telling them that His body would be broken and the leaders would hurt Him and make Him bleed. But Jesus knew that had to happen so that God would forgive everyone for their bad choices (sins). He told His disciples that any time they met together to eat the bread and drink wine, that they should remember His words and that He came to save our hearts.
Sometimes at our churches now, we celebrate what is called “Communion” or “The Lord’s Supper” or “Lord’s Table”. That is when everyone in the church who loves Gods eats bread and drinks wine (or juice) and remembers that Jesus loves us and died for us.
What did Jesus say about the bread?
What did He say about the wine?
What do you think happens to Jesus next?
Activities: Have communion in your family-discuss the different parts and thank God for sending Jesus to die for us.
Stay tuned for part 2: Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday.