Soon after Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, He was betrayed, arrested, tried, and crucified. However, the darkest moment of the story became the brightest when Jesus rose from the dead to provide forgiveness for all of God’s people. In Unit 26, kids will study Jesus’ crucifixion, resurrection, and appearance on the road to Emmaus.
Session 1 presents the story “Jesus’ Crucifixion” from Matthew 27:11-66. Jesus’ crucifixion, burial, and resurrection are the center of the gospel. Jesus accomplished the plan God had been working out throughout the Old Testament to bring salvation to sinners, and it happened in such an unlikely way.
In the Book of Acts, Peter testified to the Israelites about Jesus’ death: “Though He was delivered up according to God’s determined plan and foreknowledge, you used lawless people to nail Him to a cross and kill Him” (Acts 2:23). Crucifixion was a horrific way to die. As you teach kids, rather than focus on the graphic details of how Jesus died, emphasize why He died. Two primary reasons stand out: God is loving, and God is just.
First, God is loving. He sent His Son to be the Savior of the world because He loves us. (See John 3:16; Rom. 5:8; 1 John 4:10.) Jesus submitted to the Father’s will; He humbled Himself and came to earth as a man, and He laid down His life because He loves us. (Eph. 5:2)
Jesus lived the perfect life we failed to live and died the guilty death we don’t want to die. Those who trust in Him receive forgiveness and eternal life.
Second, God is just. God’s law for the people was plain. (See Deuteronomy 6:5.) But God’s people, and all people, broke the law. We have loved other things more than we love God. That is sin. So why did Jesus have to die? Why couldn’t He just say, “You are forgiven”? Because God is just, He requires due payment for sin. To simply forgive sin without requiring a payment would be unjust.
Jesus was our substitute, taking our place on the cross and absorbing God’s wrath on our behalf so we can be forgiven and declared righteous. (See Rom. 3:25-26; Col. 2:13-15.) Jesus died to release sinners from slavery to sin, and when we trust in Him, we are free indeed.
What was ironic about the soldiers’ making fun of Jesus’ claim to be a King? Leave a comment below.
Here is more help for leaders preparing for the October 1, 2017 session (Unit 26, Session 1) of The Gospel Project for Kids.
Alyssa Jones has been a content editor for The Gospel Project for Kids since 2011. She lives with her husband, Nate, and their two kids in Nashville, TN. Alyssa volunteers with the kids’ ministry at Refuge Church, a church plant in Franklin, TN.