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Saying No (The Passion and Resurrection 1)

July 28, 2010

(The lessons on the Last Supper are coming – my posts are not necessarily in order.)

This is the first lesson on the Passion and Resurrection. I decided to treat them as a whole, even before Easter, because I am uncomfortable about leaving children at the crucifixion. This is especially true if you can’t count on them being present for a future lesson on the Resurrection.

The story for these lessons is long – it’s a paraphrase of Matthew beginning with the Garden of Gethsemane and ending on Easter morning. You may feel it’s too long – go ahead and edit it as you see fit.

Things to know about this lesson:

  • To make up for all the talking and listening in this lesson, the activity is easy and involves lots of running. You will need a decent amount of open space.

Saying No

Open with prayer. (see tip sheet)

Introduce the Story

Who remembers what church season we are in right now? (Lent)

And what is Lent for? (getting ready for Easter by focusing on God and thinking about how God wants us to live)

Lent is also a time for us to pay attention to the bad, sinful things in the world. These are things that are dangerous and sad – things that hurt us, other people and the rest of creation instead of helping.

Before Easter comes, we have to go through the story about Jesus dying. This story is sometimes called the Passion of Jesus or the Suffering of Jesus. It is a very sad story about the terrible things that people can do to other people. It is also an important story because it reminds us that we have to pay attention to the bad things. If we don’t pay attention to them, we can’t say “no” to them. And God wants us to say “no” – when God raised Jesus from the dead on Easter, God said “no” to all those bad things and wants us to join in.

We are going to read the Passion story today

Read the Story

Jesus knew that the leaders of the temple and the city did not like what he was teaching people. They were worried that so many people would follow him that they would not be able to stay in charge of Jerusalem. Jesus knew that they wanted to kill him so that he would not be able to keep teaching and he knew that one of his disciples, Judas, had helped them figure out how to do it. After he ate Passover supper with his disciples, he went to a garden in a place called Gethsemane to pray. He was scared and sad. He told God that he didn’t want to be arrested. He didn’t want to suffer and die. But he also told God that he would do whatever God wanted him to do because he trusted God to know what was best.

After he finished praying, Judas brought a crowd of people with swords and clubs into the garden. Jesus wouldn’t let his disciples fight and they all ran away when the crowd arrested him because they were scared about what would happen to them. Even his close friend Peter told people that he didn’t know Jesus.

Now Jesus was all alone with the people who arrested him. They took him to house of the high priest, the person in charge of the temple. All the other temple leaders were there, with a whole crowd of people, and they created a lie. They said that Jesus had blasphemed and that the right punishment for his crime was to be killed. In the morning, they took him to Pilate, the governor, who was in charge of the city, and had the power to sentence Jesus to death.

Pilate realized that the leaders of the temple were jealous of Jesus and scared by his teaching but he did not really see why Jesus should be killed. There was a custom that, at the Passover festival, the governor released one prisoner to the people, and Pilate hoped that he would be able to release Jesus. The crowd that had come wanted a different prisoner released instead and told Pilate that the government should kill Jesus. Pilate gave in to the crowd and sent Jesus away with the soldiers.

The soldiers beat Jesus up very badly. Then they took him to a hill, called Golgotha, where they crucified him along with two criminals. Crucifixion is a terrible way of killing people that was used by the Roman government in those days to kill criminals and rebels. They did it on a hill so that everyone could see what the government could do to people it did not like. The people who saw Jesus made fun of him – even one of the criminals being crucified beside him made fun of him. All of his disciples had run away except for some of the women who watched from a little ways away.

At noon, an amazing thing happened. The sky got dark and stayed that way until about three o’clock, when Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have you left me?” Then Jesus died. At that moment, there was an earthquake and the curtain in the temple split in two. The soldiers who were guarding Jesus were very scared and said, “This man really was God’s Son!”

That evening, a rich man who had followed Jesus came and got Jesus’ body from the soldiers. He wrapped it in a clean cloth and put it in a tomb – a room that was carved into rock. A big stone was rolled in front of the tomb to close it and soldiers were sent to guard it and make sure that no one stole Jesus’ body.

All the people who loved Jesus were very sad and very scared – they did not know what might happen to Jesus’ disciples.

As soon as they were able, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary who also followed Jesus, went back to see the tomb. There was an earthquake and an angel came and rolled away the stone in front of the tomb. The guards were terrified and fainted. But the angel said to the two women, “Do not be afraid. I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here anymore – he has been raised from the dead and is alive. Go quickly and tell the other disciples that he is going ahead of you to Galilee – there you will see him.” Mary Magdalene and the other Mary ran off, full of joy. Suddenly, Jesus himself was in front of them. They rushed to him and knelt before him, holding his legs and worshipping him. Then Jesus said, “Do not be afraid. Go give my message to the others. I will see them in Galilee.”

The sadness and fear of the people who loved Jesus was turned into great joy!


Discussion

The leaders of the temple and the government killed Jesus because of fear, jealousy, greed, and their desire to stay in charge no matter what. Because of these terrible feelings, they lied, cheated, beat Jesus up, and finally killed him.

Jesus’ friends also did something bad. Do you remember what they did? (betrayed him/ran away when he was in trouble)

Can you think of some other bad, sinful things in the world? (war, hunger, drugs, racism, pollution)

What about some of the bad things that we do or experience sometimes? (lying, not sharing, picking on other people, being selfish, not doing our work)

These are the things that God wants us to say NO to.

The good news is that there are lots of wonderful things in the world, too – things that help people live in loving, fair, happy ways. Those are the things that God says “yes” to and that we should say “Yes” to. What are some of those things? (peace, sharing, friendships, family, nature)

What happened at the end of the story? (Jesus was raised – introduce the word ‘resurrection’)

Jesus’ resurrection doesn’t mean that the bad things never happened to him but it does mean that the bad things weren’t stronger than the good things of life and love and God. It means that we can trust the good things even when the bad things seem to be really strong – we can say “no” to the bad things.

Introduce the Activity

We’re going to use our bodies to say yes and no. This side of the room is the Yes Side. This side (the other side) is the No Side. I will call out something and you have to decide which side of the room to run to. For example, if I say racism, you would run, as fast as you can, to the….No side.

Play the Game

After each call, bring the students back to the centre. Don’t simply alternate back and forth – try to keep them guessing as to which direction they will have to run next. Here are some call suggestions:

racism, fear, hate, joy. family, war, love, security/safety
violence, lying, fun, lonliness, good food, hunger, friends, jealousy
forgiveness, trees, pollution, cheating, God, trust

Regrouping

Gather the students and congratulate them on their speed.

That was an easy and fun way to say yes to good things and no to bad things. It’s not always so easy in real life, though. Forgiving people instead of fighting with them, sharing things instead of keeping them for yourself, telling the truth instead of lying – those are all ways of saying no to bad things and yes to good things but they can be very hard to do. Let’s say a prayer for God to help us.

Closing Prayer

Dear God, thank you for Jesus. Thank you for raising him from the dead so that we can join you and Jesus in saying no to the bad things in the world and yes to the good things. Amen.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. July 29, 2010 9:52 am

    very nice story….worth reading! thanks for sharing.

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