Friday, 29 April 2011

First Easter 1

This is the text of the story from the first session of the Sunday School program that I wrote for Palm Sunday, Easter Sunday and the Sunday following Easter for 2011. I based the story text on Luke 22:47-24:53 and Acts 1:1-14. This session is based on Luke 22:47-23:49.
It was very late at night. Jesus had been praying in his favourite quiet place, in a garden near a hilltop, out under the stars. Jesus’ disciples were with Him, just as they had been for the three years that Jesus had gone through Galilee and Judea, teaching people about God and doing miracles. In the three years they had been with Jesus, the disciples had learnt that Jesus is God’s King, the Christ.

Only one of Jesus’ disciples wasn’t there in the garden. Judas was missing. Judas did not believe that Jesus is God’s King, the Christ. Earlier, while Jesus and His disciples ate dinner, Judas had left to talk to the Jewish leaders about how he could betray Jesus. Judas had made a plan to bring the temple soldiers to Jesus when He was in His favourite place, away from the crowds. Then the temple soldiers could arrest Jesus in secret.

And all at once, Judas was there in the garden. Judas boldly walked up to Jesus, and gave Him a kiss on the cheek [blow kisses] as if to greet Jesus as his friend. But Jesus knew Judas was betraying Him.

When Jesus’ other disciples saw Judas there with the temple soldiers and the Jewish leaders, they wanted to fight to get away safely. But Jesus said He was not leading a rebellion. Jesus knew it was time for the Jewish leaders to do what they wanted with Him.

The temple soldiers arrested Jesus, and they took him to the Jewish council. Jesus was on trial. The Jewish leaders accused Him:
“If you are God’s King, the Christ, tell us!” they said to Jesus.
And Jesus agreed with the Jewish leaders. “You are right,” Jesus said, “I am the Christ.”
The Jewish leaders were outraged! They did not believe that Jesus is God’s King, the Christ.

The Jewish leaders took Jesus to Pilate, the Roman governor. They told Pilate that Jesus claimed to be the Christ, God’s king. The Jewish leaders knew that the Romans said only Caesar could be king. Once again, Jesus was on trial. Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
Jesus agreed with Pilate. “Yes,” Jesus said, “It is just as you say, I am King.”

Jesus is God’s King, the Christ.

The Jewish leaders were very surprised when Pilate refused to say Jesus was guilty. So then they took Jesus to Herod. Herod teased Jesus. He put an elegant robe on Jesus, dressing him up to look like a king. But Herod didn’t really believe Jesus is God’s King, the Christ. Then Herod sent Jesus back to Pilate.

Pilate didn’t agree that Jesus was guilty. But the Jewish leaders kept telling Pilate to punish Jesus. And now there was a big crowd of people filling the court area. Pilate offered to let Jesus go free, but instead the people shouted that Pilate should kill Jesus!
“Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” the people shouted.
So finally Pilate agreed with the Jewish leaders and the shouting crowds. Pilate sent Jesus to be crucified.

Jesus walked up to another hilltop. It wasn’t peaceful and quiet on this hilltop. Women were crying, terribly sad that Jesus was going to die. This time, there were no stars shining in the sky. It was the middle of the afternoon, but the sun stopped shining, and it was dark for three hours.

On that hilltop, Jesus was crucified. Jesus was put on a cross to hang until He died. On the cross where Jesus was crucified, there was a sign. The sign said, “This is the King of the Jews”.

Jesus’ disciples had been with Him in the hillside garden, but now next to Jesus were two criminals who were also sentenced to die. One of the criminals called out to Jesus in a rude voice:
“Aren’t you the Christ, God’s King? If you are, save yourself and save us!”

But the other criminal believed that Jesus really is God’s King, the Christ. That man said that Jesus had done nothing wrong.
Then Jesus said to the second criminal, “I tell you the truth: you will be with Me in paradise.”
Jesus promised that He would save the criminal, so that he could be in heaven with Jesus.

Many other people teased Jesus, making faces at Him. “Let Him save himself if He really is the Christ, God’s Chosen King,” they said.

The people didn’t understand that Jesus chose not to save himself. Jesus is God’s King, the Christ. And staying hung on the cross to die was the most important job Jesus had to do as God’s King. Jesus was the only one who could do it. Jesus died on the cross to save us, so that we can live with Him in heaven.

If Jesus saved himself, and did a miracle to get down off the cross and make himself safe, we would not be saved from our sin. We would never live with Jesus in heaven. So Jesus, God’s King, the Christ, died on the cross to save us.
All illustrations are copyright 2011 Chrissie D. She drew them specifically for our program. (Isn't she wonderful?) The illustrations have deliberately been resized to about 10% of their original size to prevent people copying and re-using Chrissie D's original art without permission.

If you would like to use this story, the illustrations or the accompanying program including materials for activities and songs with your children or church or in some other way, please leave a message on the blog and I will get back to you directly.

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