This Easter lesson is structured a little differently from most of the other Kids of Integrity lessons. With this lesson, you should try to do all nine Bible stories, perhaps one each day, so your children can gain a complete picture of the events surrounding Jesus’ death and resurrection.
For each Bible story, lay out the blanket(s) you made in the kick-off craft and enjoy an indoor or outdoor “picnic” as you listen to the story.
Biblical event: Jesus’ disciples prepare the Passover
Beatitudes theme for this lesson: “
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5:6)
This Bible story picnic introduces the Passover dinner Jesus shared with His disciples. Ideally your children will be getting hungry around the time you read this story and have your picnic.
Prepare ahead by packing these items in the picnic basket that you prepared in the kick-off craft: a large serving spoon, a snack or meal, and an appealing dessert or treat. Your food can be as simple or as elaborate as you like, i.e. cheese, crackers, veggie sticks and a cookie – or a full-fledged picnic.
Begin by gathering together on the picnic blanket(s) you made in the kick-off craft. Thank the Lord for your food, then let your children begin eating while you start the discussion with the questions that follow.
Now introduce the Bible story with the following prayer (or a similar version of your own):
Dear Jesus, You tell us that when we hunger and thirst for righteousness, we will be filled (Matthew 5:6). We are hungry to hear what You want to teach us! Thank you for our full tummies. We look forward to having full hearts too. Amen.
Read Luke 22:7-16.
Read Matthew 5:6 and Psalm 119:103.
We get excited about eating when we are hungry! God made us this way! The hunger in our stomachs tell us when we need to eat. God also gave us “heart hunger.” Inside every person, He put an emptiness that can only be filled by spending time with Him. Just like we wouldn’t want to go a day without eating or drinking, neither should we go a day without taking time to learn from the Bible and listen to Jesus. The disciples gathered for the Passover dinner to eat and so that they could continue to learn all that Jesus wanted to teach them. Just as the disciples did, we too can spend time each day listening to Jesus. This feeds our hungry hearts.
Jesus told the people that they would be blessed by God if they dug into learning about Him with as much enthusiasm as they dug into delicious food – as though they were really hungry for it!
There’s an object in our picnic basket that will help us remember to “hunger after righteousness.” Can you guess what it is? (The large spoon or ladle.) If we are “hungry for righteousness,” it means that we want to spend time with Jesus so we can learn to obey Him, as His disciples did.
End your picnic in prayer, asking God to give you hungry hearts to know Him better, and a desire to read His Word and obey it. Use this sample prayer, if you wish:
Dear Jesus, we want to have hearts that are hungry to know You better! Like it says in Psalm 119, we want to have a “sweet tooth” for the Bible and for the things You want to teach us. We want to be eager to please You – not ourselves. Amen.
During the Easter season, when you notice your kids hungering after seasonal sweets, use it as an opportunity to review the idea that God wants us to be as eager to obey Him as we are to eat a treat. Every time your child eats a chocolate egg or a holiday treat, use it as a reminder to pray and ask God to give you hungry hearts to know Him better.
Explore the historical significance of the Passover meal that Jesus shared with His disciples by hosting your own family Seder or Passover meal. Instructions for a simple Seder are available in this PDF from Focus on the Family entitled Walking Through Holy Week: Bring the Easter Story to Life for Your Kids.
Matthew 5:6 “
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
Psalm 119:103 “
How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”
“ ‘My food’, said Jesus, ‘is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work.’ ”
Biblical event: The Passover dinner and Jesus’ betrayal
Beatitudes theme for this lesson:
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” (Matthew 5:8)
Prepare ahead by packing a bag of cookies and a flashlight in your picnic basket.
Today’s story takes place during the Passover dinner, when Jesus tells His disciples that one of them will betray Him. For this storytime picnic, you will need to gather together on your picnic blanket(s) in a room that can be darkened by turning out the lights.
Thank the Lord for your food, then give each child a cookie to nibble on as you ask the discussion questions.
Guilt is the feeling we get when we do something we know is wrong. Guilt is the reason that eating a stolen cookie isn’t enjoyable. Rejected or hurt is how we feel when someone leaves us out, refuses to share with us, or is unkind. Today’s story is about a time when Jesus was rejected by one of His close friends named Judas. Judas felt so guilty about hurting Jesus that he couldn’t enjoy being around Jesus anymore.
Read Matthew 26:14-16 and John 13:1-5,15-30.
At the last verse, when you read “And it was night,” turn out the lights in the room. Use these questions to guide your discussion:
Turn the lights back on and continue asking questions.
Read John 8:12, Ephesians 5:8-10 and 1 John 1:5-9.
Jesus was “troubled in spirit” or hurting deeply in His heart because He knew one of His special friends was going to betray Him. A betrayal is much worse than saying, “I don’t want to be your friend anymore,” or “I won’t share my treats with you.” To betray a friend means that your actions show that you have become an enemy instead of a friend. Judas knew what he had done was wrong. He was so ashamed of his sin that he left the dinner. But the disciples who had no reason to feel guilty stayed with Jesus at the Passover dinner.
Kids who sneak cookies do not want to be around their parents. People who keep darkness in their hearts cannot be close to God because of their sin. The Bible tells us that if we follow Jesus we will have light instead of darkness in our hearts. When we have light in our hearts, we will want to please God by being honest and making righteous choices. And just like the disciples who stayed with Jesus at the Passover dinner, when we do what is right, we stay in close friendship with Jesus. Jesus reminded us of this at the Sermon on the Mount when He said,
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8).
The opposite of the “fruit of the light” is the “fruit of darkness.” A person with darkness in their heart will live to please themselves. They will be dishonest or lie, and make unrighteous or sinful choices. The good news is that if we tell God we are sorry about our sin, and ask Him to get rid of the sin and selfishness in our hearts and give us clean hearts instead, He will.
Can you find something in our picnic basket that will help us remember today’s lesson? (The flashlight.)
Close your time together in prayer, asking God to shine His light into your hearts to show you if there is any sin there. Invite Him to wash your hearts clean. Use this sample prayer or your own version of it:
Dear Jesus, the Bible tells us that You are the light of the world (John 8:12). We invite You to shine Your light into our lives today. Please show us if there is any darkness in our hearts so that we can ask You to wash it away. We want to stay in close friendship with You, Jesus. Amen.
To establish a habit of personal confession of sin, when you turn lights on in the morning or at night, invite Jesus to shine His light in your hearts to show you if there is any sin there that needs to be cleaned out.
Play tag on a dark night or in a darkened play area. Use a flashlight to create a circle of light to serve as “home free.” Remind your children that God’s Word says He has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness by forgiving our sins and has made us part of Jesus’ kingdom of light (Colossians 1:13).
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”
“When Jesus spoke again to the people He said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’ ”
“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.”
1 John 1:5-9
“This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with Him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
“. . . and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
“Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false.”
Biblical event: In the Garden of Gethsemane
Beatitudes theme for this lesson:
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5)
Extra supplies needed: Cookie cutters, playdough, plastic glasses to serve as rolling pins, and a cross (packed in your picnic basket, along with a snack to enjoy during your picnic)
To begin this Bible story and picnic, have your kids take turns teaching everyone else how to make pretend playdough cookies. You can participate as well, but make sure that the other participants are following the leader’s instructions. Make comments such as, “This isn’t the way I usually make cookies, but I’ll do it your way this time.” The purpose of this activity is to illustrate how hard it is to say, “Let’s do it your way, instead of my way.”
To create a garden-like atmosphere, invite your kids to spread their blankets near some plants for their Bible story and “picnic with Jesus.”
Prior to reading the Bible story, pray and let God know that you are ready to learn about doing things His way. Use this sample prayer if you wish:
Jesus, we are here with open ears. We want to learn what it means to do things Your way. Amen.
It’s often hard to do things the way another person wants to do them. We usually prefer to do things our own way. When we choose to let another person have things their way instead of insisting on having things the way we want them, we experience peace. However, when two people both insist on having things their way, the result is conflict, and they may even begin fighting.
Read Luke 22:39-46.
When Jesus prayed, He asked God if there was any way God could change His plan to have Jesus die on the cross. Jesus didn’t threaten God in order to try and get His own way. Instead, Jesus prayed, “Not My will, but Yours” (Matthew 26:39,42). Or, in other words, Jesus was saying, “Father, do things Your way, not Mine.”
The disciples fell asleep, even though Jesus asked them to pray. It was much easier to go to sleep than it was to stay up during the night to pray. Sometimes it can be very hard to do what God asks us to do.
It wasn’t easy for Jesus to die on the cross. From what Jesus prayed in the garden, we know that He didn’t want to die, but He willingly died on the cross because He knew that God wanted Him to. He did things God’s way, not His own way.
On the cross, Jesus heard the people making fun of Him, saying that He wasn’t really God. We can guess that it might have been tempting for Jesus to come off the cross to prove to these people that He was the Son of God. Jesus could have broken free of the nails and come down off the cross, but He chose to die instead.
Jesus wasn’t weak; He was being meek. He was willing to do what God wanted instead of what He wanted. We are being meek, like Jesus, when we are willing to do things God’s way instead of our own way.
The Bible says Jesus was “obedient to death on the cross.” God was very pleased with Jesus for being willing to take the punishment for everyone else’s sins, when Jesus had not sinned Himself. God rewarded Jesus for being meek and gave Him a great honour: one day everyone in heaven and on earth and under the earth will bow down before Jesus. If Jesus had not been willing to do things God’s way, God would not have been able to give Jesus the honour of being “Lord of All” (Philippians 2:8-11).
Every day we end up in situations where we have to choose to be meek or not. It is often harder to do what God wants us to do than it is to do what we want. We can insist on doing things our own way, or we can let God know that we are willing to do things His way.
If we do not invite God to teach us to do things His way, it is as though we are telling God, “I want to be the boss.” If we keep doing things our own way, instead of obeying God, we are not Jesus’ followers and He cannot give us the honour of ruling the earth with Him when He returns (Revelation 5:9-10).
Search through our picnic basket and see if you can guess which object connects with today’s lesson. (The cross.)
Pray together, indicating a willingness to do things God’s way, instead of your own way. Here’s a sample prayer to guide you:
Jesus, please help us to be willing to do things Your way instead of our way. We want to be meek so we are going to pray like You did Jesus, “Father God, I’ll do whatever You want me to do. You lead, I’ll follow.” Amen.
During the Easter season, when you see one of your kids insisting on having his / her own way, encourage him / her to visit the cross found in your picnic basket. Remind your child that Jesus did not want to die on the cross, but He prayed and told God that He was willing to do what God wanted instead of what He wanted. Pray with your child, and encourage him / her to ask God to give him / her the strength to be meek, like Jesus – willing to do things God’s way instead of his / her own way.
If you wish, you could extend your activity time by making real cookie-cutter cookies instead of pretend playdough cookies.
1 Peter 2:23
“When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly.”
“And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Psalm 37:1, 10-11, 34a
“Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong . . . A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found. But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace. . . .Wait for the Lord and keep His way.”
Biblical event: Jesus is arrested
Beatitudes theme for this lesson:
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
Extra supplies needed: Along with a picnic snack each and an empty bottle (packed in your picnic basket), you’ll also need supplies for making pinwheels, i.e., felt markers, cardstock, and for each child, a pencil with an eraser, a tack and some beads.
During this Bible story picnic, you’ll make paper pinwheels and discuss the Biblical account of Jesus’ arrest. If you prefer, you can purchase pinwheels at a dollar store.
To make the paper pinwheels, search the Internet for instructions using the search terms “easy instructions,” “paper pinwheel” and “beads.” (Pinwheels spin better if the paper is separated from the stick by a few beads.)
After each child has made a pinwheel, invite everyone to gather on your blanket(s) to have a snack. Pray and thank God for your food and for another chance to have a picnic with Jesus.
Read Luke 22:47-53.
When Judas arrived to betray Him, Jesus already knew that the soldiers were going to take Him away and that He was going to die on the cross. Instead of fighting for His life, Jesus healed the soldier’s ear. Jesus cared more about saving us than He did about saving His own life. It was honourable that Jesus’ disciples were willing to protect Jesus, but when Jesus healed the ear of the wounded soldier, Jesus chose to keep the peace.
Read Matthew 5:9, Galatians 4:6 and Galatians 5:22-26.
God gives us the Holy Spirit to live in us to help us live at peace with others. The Bible tells us that when we are sons and daughters of God, He gives us His Spirit to live in us. When God’s Spirit is inside of us, we are loving, joyful, kind, patient, and we live at peace with others. Even though we are children of God, we can still be tempted to get angry. No matter what has happened to upset us, we know that Jesus prefers to see people living at peace with each other rather than fighting. The Bible says that people who are peacekeepers will be blessed by being called “children of God” (Matthew 5:9).
It’s time to search through the picnic basket! What item reminds you of today’s lesson? (The empty bottle, containing nothing but air.) We cannot see air and we cannot see God’s Spirit, but just as the air causes the pinwheel to spin, God’s Spirit in us can help us live at peace with others.
Close with this prayer, or one like it:
Dear God, we know that fighting doesn’t make You happy, but it can be hard to keep the peace sometimes. Please send Your Spirit to live in each one of us so we can be like Jesus. We each want to be a peacemaker so we can be called a son or daughter of Yours! Amen.
Throughout the Easter season, if tempers get hot or a fight starts brewing, encourage your kids to keep the peace like Jesus did. Affirm those who are living at peace in your home by calling them sons and daughters of God and referring to Matthew 5:9. You can also use the spring winds as a reminder to invite the Holy Spirit into your lives to help you to live as peacemakers.
If you’d prefer, you can make a water wheel rather than a pinwheel, and compare the Holy Spirit to water instead of air. You’ll find instructions at Focusonthefamily.ca/parenting in the article entitled “Busy With Christmas Preparations?”
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”
“. . . those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”
Galatians 4:6 “Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘ “Abba,” Father.’ ”
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”
1 John 3:16, 23-24
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. . . . And this is His command: to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us. Those who obey His commands live in Him, and He in them. And this is how we know that He lives in us: We know it by the Spirit He gave us.”
Biblical event: Peter’s denial of Jesus
Beatitudes theme for this lesson:
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:10-12)
As you read today’s story of Peter’s denial, your children will learn that the Bible says it’s an honour to be mistreated as followers of Jesus.
Make this picnic special by allowing your children to bring stuffed animals with them. (Make sure you have packed a stuffed animal in your picnic basket too.) Before you eat, thank God for your food and invite Jesus to join you. Use this prayer, come up with your own, or invite your children to pray:
Jesus, thank you for our picnic breakfast / lunch / supper. We’re happy You are here with us and we are excited to hear what You are going to teach us today. Amen.
Read Luke 22:54-62.
We can imagine how badly Peter felt when the rooster crowed and Peter realized that he said, three times over, that he didn’t know Jesus. It’s easy to think that Peter was not a very good friend for being afraid to tell people that he was one of Jesus’ followers. But before we judge Peter for being scared, we need to consider what we would have done if we had been Peter.
Peter said that he didn’t know Jesus because he was afraid of what people might do to him if they knew he was one of Jesus’ followers. It’s easy to be afraid of what others might say about us or what they might do to us when we let them know we love Jesus, but the Bible says that when others are cruel to us because we love Jesus, we are to be full of joy and consider it an honour to suffer like Jesus did.
Having a stuffed animal or a parent beside us can help us feel less afraid, but God can provide comfort and courage for us anytime and anywhere. The Bible tells us that God will never leave us (Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5). This is a wonderful promise!
There’s something in the picnic basket to remind us that, when we feel afraid, God is always with us. Can you guess what the object is? (A stuffed animal.)
Close by praying this sample prayer, or pray the words God puts on your heart.
Jesus, when others treat us badly because we are Your followers, please fill us with joy and remind us that You are always with us so that we don’t get scared like Peter did. If we feel scared, please give us courage and fill us with joy. Amen.
When you tuck your kids in at night, pray with them and encourage them to cuddle close to their stuffed animal as a reminder that Jesus is with them to give them comfort and the courage they need to tell others that they are His followers.
Do some research on persecution of believers in other countries and, as appropriate, discuss forms of persecution with your children. Or find a picture of a missionary who serves in a country where they risk being persecuted for their faith. Pray for this missionary and ask God to give them comfort, courage and protection. Work with your kids to make a prayer reminder card. Use it as a Bible bookmark or post it in a visible location.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
“ ‘If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: “No servant is greater than his master.” If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed My teaching, they will obey yours also.’ ”
Biblical event: Jesus’ trial
Beatitudes theme for this lesson:
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)
This teaching time begins with some fun arm wrestling. Then you’ll settle down on your picnic blanket(s) to hear what happened when Jesus was brought before the Sanhedrin, and then before Pilate and Herod.
Here’s how to structure your arm wrestling matches to make a connection with the lesson concepts later:
Before you play, pray for safety and good attitudes! Begin by pitting the smallest or youngest family member against one of the largest. The other family members have the job of cheering on the little one! After a valiant, but less than 100 per cent effort, the larger person should allow the victory to go to “the underdog.”
Switch roles and play some more, giving each child a chance to be the “winner.”
When you have finished playing, gather everyone on your picnic blanket for your snack and Bible story. For this teaching time, you’ll need a first aid kit (including some adhesive bandages) in your picnic basket.
Use this sample prayer or one of your own as a lead-in to your storytime:
Dear Jesus, thank you for our snack / picnic. Please come and be our teacher today as we learn about mercy. We are eager to learn all that You want to teach us. Amen.
In life, there are people who seem to have an advantage. They are considered fortunate because they have more of something than others do. They might be stronger, bigger, faster, smarter, more talented artistically or musically. Others are not so fortunate. They are weaker, slower, smaller or less talented.
If we are a person who has the more ideal circumstances, we should make sure we don’t flaunt it or “lord it over others” by making them feel badly. To show mercy to those who have less in terms or food, money or possessions, we can share what we have, or find another way to encourage them.
At a hillside picnic recorded in the Bible, Jesus said,
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matthew 5:7). God is pleased when we are considerate and kind towards those who are less fortunate than we are. He wants us to use our strength to protect those who are weak. He is happy when we use our brains or quick wit to defend those who are being made fun of by others. If we have a lot of food, God is pleased when we share it with those who have none.
Read Luke 22:63-71; 23:1-27.
When the religious leaders brought Jesus to trial before Pilate, they told lies about Him. They accused Jesus of opposing payment of taxes to Caesar, and claiming to be Christ, a king. Pilate had the authority to decide if someone was guilty of a sin that deserved the death penalty. After listening to the crowd, Pilate said he saw no reason why Jesus deserved to die. When the people kept insisting that Jesus did deserve to die, Pilate consulted with another leader (Herod), who too thought that Jesus had done nothing wrong.
Even though both leaders said that Jesus did not deserve to die, the people kept shouting that they wanted Jesus crucified. The tradition at that time of year was to set a prisoner free. Pilate suggested that Jesus be set free, but the people asked that a criminal named Barabbas (who had done many bad things) be set free instead of Jesus. To please the crowds, that’s what Pilate decided to do. He let Barabbas go free and let the people take Jesus away to crucify Him.
Pilate chose to be a crowd pleaser. Pilate showed mercy to Barabbas (offering him undeserved forgiveness), but Pilate was not merciful toward Jesus when he turned Jesus over to the crowd to be killed.
When Jesus was being taken away to be crucified, the Bible says that people followed Him, weeping and mourning for Him. We can guess that those people encouraged Jesus by sharing His pain.
Being merciful means caring about someone’s pain enough to be willing to help them. When we see people who are disadvantaged or hurting, there are several things we can do to show mercy. The first is to step up and stand beside them so they don’t feel so alone. We can let them know we share in their sadness or pain, and we can pray for them and ask God to help them.
When someone is being bullied, we can speak in their defence and tell those who are bullying them to stop. (If the bully may hurt you or someone else, it’s a good idea to get an adult to go along with you). When you come to the defence of someone who is being teased or bullied, you are being a God pleaser, not a crowd pleaser. Matthew 5:7 says that those who show mercy to others will be shown mercy themselves.
Can you find an object in our picnic basket that might relate to today’s lesson? (The first aid kit.)
Think of someone you know who is hurting, and write their name on an adhesive bandage. Post the bandage in a visible location as a reminder to pray for them.
Close your picnic with this prayer, or with a prayer of your own:
Dear Jesus, we know that You want us to be merciful. Please help us to notice people who need our help and compassion and show us how we can share Your love with them. Amen.
Use daily “owies” as a reminder to pray for others who are hurting. Take notice of those who are less fortunate, pray for them, and if you can, do something to show you care.
Give your child an opportunity to go shoeless outdoors so they can feel empathy and compassion for those who don’t own a pair of shoes.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”
“You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; You encourage them, and You listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.”
“Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the Lord delivers him in times of trouble.”
“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
“Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”
Biblical event: Jesus’ crucifixion
Beatitudes theme for this lesson:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)
Extra supplies needed: A blindfold for each child, plus a pack of anti-bacterial wipes or hand sanitizer (packed in your picnic basket along with your picnic snack)
In this lesson, you’ll help your kids compare sin to germs through a simple hand washing exercise, and help your kids see that they cannot get rid of their sin on their own.
The Bible story will focus on the attitudes of the two thieves who were crucified with Jesus. One was “poor in spirit” and recognized his sinfulness, but the second thief did not.
Begin by explaining that you have a snack packed in the picnic basket, but first the children must wash their hands before eating.
After giving everyone’s hands a good washing, thank God for your food, then work through the discussion questions to get your kids thinking and talking while they eat their snack.
Pray your own prayer of thanks, or if you’d rather, use this sample:
Jesus, we are sitting here, eager to listen to You. We are excited to be Your students today. We look forward to learning what You want to teach us. Thank you for washing our sins away. And thank you for our snack. Amen.
Just as germs make our bodies sick, sin makes our hearts sick. In order to stay healthy, we need soap and water to wash the germs off our hands. But we need Jesus to wash the sin out of our hearts.
Only God can forgive our sins. The Bible tells us that when we confess our sins, God will clean the sin out of us (1 John 1:9). During the hillside talk that we call The Sermon on the Mount, Jesus also said,
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8). He was telling the people that when they got the sin cleaned out of their hearts, they could enjoy being close to God. We learned about this in our second Bible story picnic.
Read Luke 23:26-43.
The first thief did not see Jesus as special; he considered himself no different from Jesus. The second thief, on the other hand, defended Jesus saying,
“We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong” (Luke 23:41).
The second thief saw the difference between himself and Jesus. He humbly admitted that he was sinful, but Jesus was sinless! He realized that he deserved punishment and Jesus did not. The second thief was “poor in spirit” because he noticed his own sinfulness in comparison to Jesus’ sin-less-ness (or holiness).
Jesus told the second thief, “Today you will be with Me in paradise!” When Jesus was teaching the people on the hillside He said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). In other words, Jesus was telling the people the same thing that He told the second thief: those who recognize how sinful they are and are sorry about their sin will get to share in His kingdom in heaven.
If we are like the second thief and we let Jesus know we are sorry about our sin, we too can be with Jesus in heaven someday. The Bible tells us that when we confess our sins, God will forgive our sins and wash them right out of us (1 John 1:9). That’s because, through Jesus’ death on the cross, the penalty for our sins has been paid (2 Corinthians 5:21).
After God washes the sin out of our hearts, God doesn’t see us as sinful any more. Instead, He sees us as pure and clean (Colossians 1:22). How wonderful it is to know that when we are sorry for doing wrong and ask God to get rid of our sins, He does! Not only do we have a “forever paradise” called heaven to look forward to, we can also have a close friendship with Jesus and enjoy His presence in our lives every day!
Now it’s time to search for the item that connects with today’s lesson. But this time, you’ll have to search through the picnic basket while wearing a blindfold!
Let your children search awhile, then remove the blindfolds so they can see what they came up with. Once the antibacterial wipes have been identified, tell your kids that licking the germs off their hands prior to eating is as foolish as being “blind” to their sin (ignoring it or refusing to admit it), or thinking that they can get rid of their sin on their own.
Close in prayer using this sample prayer, or use your own words. Ask your kids if they have any “heart germs” that they would like to ask God to wash away. Give them an opportunity to pray, too.
Jesus, You see the sin in our hearts and we know it is there too. There is nothing we can do to get rid of our own sin. Please give our hearts a good scrubbing to wash all the sin out of us! We want our hearts to be pure so that You are comfortable being there. Amen.
For the remainder of the Easter season, whenever you wash your hands or use hand sanitizer, use it as a reminder to talk about the attitudes of the two thieves. While you are washing your hands, ask God to show you your sins so you can confess them. As you do, thank God for washing away your sins.
Purchase some Glo Germ™ to serve as a very visual illustration of the way germs hide, yet can be washed away effectively. See the hands-on options section of this lesson for more details.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
“Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right.”
1 John 1:9
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your unfailing love; according to Your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.”
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me.”
“In His days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which He will be called: The Lord Our Righteousness.”
2 Corinthians 5:21
“God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”
1 Peter 2:24
“He himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed.”
Biblical event: Jesus’ death and burial
Beatitudes theme for this lesson:
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)
Extra supplies needed: A tissue box, plus stickers and felt-tip markers to decorate it with; a nail and / or a wooden kebab skewer for each child, plus a second box of tissues (packed in your picnic basket, along with a snack to enjoy during your picnic)
In this lesson, children will learn that even though Easter is a happy celebration, it honours God when we are sad about how much our sin hurts Him.
Begin your lesson by working with your children to decorate the outside of a box of tissues using stickers and felt-tip markers. Have your children select colours, pictures and items that are reminders of God’s love and comfort.
As you gather for your storytime, tell your kids that they may need a tissue because the story might make them cry.
Begin your storytime picnic by praying this prayer, or one of your own:
Jesus, thank you for our food. Thank you for another chance to have a picnic with You. Even though it is going to be a sad story, we are willing to hear what You are going to say to us today. Amen.
Read Genesis 6:5-6 and Matthew 5:4.
One of the things that Jesus said to the people who gathered to listen to Him teach was,
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). The Bible tells us that sin causes God great pain. God wants us to feel sad about our sins, but He also tells us that He will comfort us. As we read today’s story, we can remember that it was because of our sin that Jesus had to die.
As you continue with today’s story, allow each of your children to hold a nail in their hands. (If you wish, you can also show them some wooden kebab skewers to illustrate the cruel sharpness of the thorns.)
Read Luke 23:44-56.
Being beaten and whipped causes your body to hurt and being made fun of makes your heart hurt. Jesus had both kinds of pain. Although we don’t like to think about how much Jesus hurt when He was on the cross, it is good to remember the pain Jesus went through so that we remember how much our sin hurts Him. Even though God hates sin, He still loves us! God loves us so much that He was willing to send His son to die for our sins so that we can be forgiven.
In order to be forgiven, a person needs to see their sin and be sad about it, then they need to confess it. When we “mourn,” or are greatly saddened by our sin, our attitude (of repentance) pleases God and He forgives us. After our sins are forgiven, we experience the comfort of God’s presence in our lives every day and we can look forward to heaven where
“there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4).
I wonder which item in our picnic basket connects with today’s lesson. Would you like to guess? (The box of tissues – a reminder of God’s love and His promised blessing of comfort for those who are saddened by their sin.)
Pray to close your picnic. Use this sample prayer, or pray as God leads:
Jesus, we are sorry that You had to die so that our sins can be forgiven. It makes us sad to know how much it hurts You when we sin. Thank you for forgiving us and for comforting us. Amen.
During the Easter season, ask your kids to watch for crosses on cards, signs and jewelry. Whenever they see a cross, repeat aloud Romans 8:38-39:
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Then take a moment to thank God for Jesus, His death and for forgiveness of sin.
If you prefer a more durable craft, you can use fabric markers or fabric paints to decorate an “Easter” handkerchief or bandana.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
“The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The Lord was grieved that He had made man on the earth, and His heart was filled with pain.”
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
“I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Biblical event: Jesus’ resurrection
Beatitudes theme for this lesson: “
You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
Extra supplies needed: 3-4 glow sticks or battery-powered tea lights per child, plus a candle (packed in your picnic basket, along with your picnic food)
In this Bible story picnic, as you rejoice over Jesus’ resurrection, you’ll also be talking about how believers can be the “light of the world” by sharing the good news of Jesus with others.
Prepare beforehand by hiding some glow sticks or battery-powered tea lights near where you plan to eat your picnic (three to four lights per child is sufficient). You’ll be having a “light hunt” instead of an egg hunt!
Begin by thanking God for your picnic snack.
Read Matthew 5:14-16.
When we sin, our light doesn’t shine like it’s supposed to. Our sin causes us to hurt each other and it also makes God sad. We all have sinned and end up like a tea light with a worn-out battery or a glow stick with no glow juice in it. We can’t shine like God made us to shine. We can’t do anything to fix our brokenness either. The wonderful news is that God can make us shine again. That’s what our Bible story is about today.
Read Matthew 28:1-10 and John 20:19-23.
“As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you”(John 20:21)?
Like the people in today’s story, we can imagine that we, too, would have been full of joy upon seeing Jesus alive again. Jesus didn’t want it to be kept a secret that He was alive. He told Mary to tell the disciples.
Later Jesus told His disciples that just as God had sent Him to tell them about the kingdom of heaven, Jesus was sending them to tell others! The “job” Jesus was giving His followers was to go and teach others everything He had taught them (Matthew 28:18-20). Jesus knew He was not going to be staying with them and He knew the disciples could not do the job without His help, so Jesus gave them His Holy Spirit to be their helper.
A shining light is hard to miss – kind of like the angel at the tomb! Just like it is hard to hide a bright light, it is difficult to stay quiet when we have an exciting secret. The Easter story is wonderful news! God wants us to share the story of Jesus with everyone too.
The news we are to share with others is that God loves us so much that He sent Jesus to earth to tell people about His Father, God. God sent Jesus to die on the cross to take the punishment for our sins, so that we can be forgiven! If a person’s sins are not forgiven, God cannot allow that person to be in heaven. Instead God must send those who do evil to hell where they will be punished for their sins (Matthew 13:36-43, Matthew 25:46). God wants us to “shine” so that others see our lives and decide that they want to be followers of Jesus too!
Invite your kids to go on a “light hunt,” searching for the hidden lights. Ask them not to turn them on (or break them open) until you have gathered back together at the end of the hunt. When all the lights have been found, ask your children to list ways that they can “shine” for Jesus. With each “shining” idea they share, they get to turn on a tea light or crack a glow stick. Place your lights around your picnic area.
In our story today we heard that after Jesus died, He rose again. In Romans 8:11 it says, “
And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you.”
We need Jesus’ help in order to do the things He asks us to do. We can’t do it on our own, even if we try really hard. That is why Jesus gave His disciples His Holy Spirit. He gives us His Holy Spirit to live in us so we can shine for Him. The Bible says that the same Spirit who raised Christ from the dead lives in us! God’s Holy Spirit brought Jesus back to life and that same Spirit lives in us to help us shine like Jesus.
Even a brand new tea light does not shine if it doesn’t have a battery as a power source. And glow sticks don’t glow unless their glow juice gets shaken up. When we have the Holy Spirit in us, we can shine for Jesus because His Holy Spirit is our power source. We can’t do it on our own, no matter how hard we try. But with God’s help, we can! When the Holy Spirit lives in us, we become filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
When Jesus was teaching the people on the hillside, He talked to the people about shining like lights. He said, “
You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).
Just as people are attracted to a shining light, God wants people to be attracted to us. When we are kind, gentle, courteous, respectful, joyful and considerate it makes other people want to be around us and want to be like us. The Bible says that when people see our good deeds they will praise God! Jesus told His followers to shine because Jesus knows that this is the best way to help people who don’t know Him to find Him! In the same way, God wants all of His children to be like candles on a dark night – candles that light the way and lead others to Jesus!
Can you find an item in our picnic basket that reminds you of today’s lesson? (The candle.)
Review the idea that our “lights” are turned on when we are full of the Holy Spirit and when we love others like Jesus does.
In closing, gather together in a darkened room and light the candle. Read John 3:16-21 and then pray together. You can use this sample prayer or invite your kids to pray:
Jesus, thank you for suffering on the cross and taking the punishment for our sins. We love You, and we want to obey You. Please forgive our sins, wash our hearts clean, and fill us with Your Holy Spirit so we can shine and tell others about You, Jesus. Amen.
In the future, whenever you hum the tune This Little Light of Mine, have your kids guess how they are shining for Jesus. You can also affirm your children who are displaying godly character by giving them shiny objects. Perhaps they can collect coins or beads to make a necklace or bracelet.
Alternatively, when a child is clearly sinning, remind the transgressor that when we are not obeying God, our lights do not shine. In order to “shine” for Jesus, we need His Spirit in our hearts, filling us with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control. Pray with the child who is struggling with sin, and ask God to send His Holy Spirit to help them shine.
Follow the instructions for the hands-on option in the obedience lesson that’s entitled “shining for Jesus.” This object lesson involves cleaning some dirty pennies with vinegar to illustrate how the Holy Spirit living in us enables us to shine like Jesus.
“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
1 John 3:24
“Those who obey His commands live in Him, and He in them. And this is how we know that He lives in us: We know it by the Spirit He gave us.”