Faith sticks when little people can experience the family stories of the bible. The greatest story ever told is the Good News of Jesus. With Easter coming, we are preparing for a sticky faith formation experience for Palm Sunday’s Sunday school hour.
Family Friendly Holy Week Stations
1. Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane.
After Jesus had His LAST SUPPER with His buddies, and sang a song, He went out to pray.
Luke 22:39-43 “Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.”
Item: Praying Hands, Communion Cup and plate
Did you know? Nowhere else in scripture did God kneel on this earth, but here. How often do you kneel before God?
2. Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane.
While Jesus was asking his buddies to “Watch and pray,” Judas, one of the 12, arrived. At once Judas came up to Jesus and kissed Jesus. Then a crowd came and arrested Jesus.
Matthew 26:47-50 “While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the Meaners of the people. ‘The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.’ Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him.”
Item: Handcuffs, leather cord, chains (the bigger and the heavier, the better)
Did you know? Jesus came back to his buddies to ask them to “Watch and Pray” 3 times. Do you have buddies you can ask to “Watch and Pray?” Pray that God will send them to you.
3. Jesus was taken to the religious leaders.
The Meaners took Jesus to the chief priests, elders and teachers of the law looking for evidence against Jesus so they could put him to death.
Mark 14:61-64 “The meaners took Jesus to the high priest and the whole Sanhedrin who were looking for evidence against Jesus. They all agreed to send Jesus to die. Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and yelled at him. And the guards took him and beat him.”
Item: a Pastor’s stole
Did you know? The religious leaders were afraid of how the people loved Jesus. Are you afraid of people who love Jesus?
4. Jesus taken to the government leaders.
Since the religious leaders were not allowed by law to put someone to death, they sent Jesus to the government leader to put Jesus to death.
John 18:28-37 “In the early morning, the meaners took Jesus to the palace of the Roman governor named Pilate. Pilate asked Jesus “What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. My kingdom is not from here.” “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.”
Item: Judge’s gavel
Did you know? Pilate wanted to let Jesus go and thought that having Jesus “spanked” would be enough punishment for the crowd. Do you let other people make you do things you know are wrong?
5. Pilate hands Jesus over to be beaten.
John 19:1-3 “Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail king of the Jews!” And they struck him in the face.”
Item: Crown of thorns and leather whip.
Did you know? The first mention of “thorns” in the bible comes in Genesis as part of the punishment of Adam and Eve as they leave the Garden of Eden and were then required to grow their own food among the “thorns and the thistles.”
6. Pilate hands Jesus over to be crucified.
John 19:16- “So the meaners took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, Jesus went out to the place of the Skull (which is called Golgotha).
Item: Railroad tie, cross beams, cross the kids can pick up and hoist onto their shoulders
Did you know? that the sickness of sin and selfishness is heavy? Do you really want to carry around something that separates you from God?
7. Simon helps Jesus carry the heavy cross.
Luke 23:26 “As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced Simon to help Jesus carry the cross.”
Item: Table mirror or cross kids can pick up and hoist onto their shoulders here, instead.
Did you know? That someone helped Jesus carry His cross when it got too heavy? Would you help Jesus carry His cross?
8. Many of the ladies who loved Jesus followed him crying.
Luke23:27 “A large number of people follow him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children.”
Item: Box of Kleenex
Did you know? The term “Daughter” is a term of endearment for a family member. Jesus was claiming these ladies as part of his family. Do you claim Jesus as part of your family?
9. The Meaners take Jesus’ clothes.
John 19:23-When the meaners crucified Jesus; they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.” This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said, “They divided my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.” (Psalm 22:18)
Item: Dice, purple/scarlet robe
Did you know? It is a great insult to human dignity to rob a person of everything, even his clothing. Most of us will never know the shame and suffering of being penniless and virtually naked in a public place, as many of the homeless on the streets of our cities today. Have you offered anything to help clothe the people in our community?
10. Jesus is placed on the cross.
Luke 23:33-34 “When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals – one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
Item: Nails, rubber mallet
Did you know? Jesus could have chosen not to take the pain and humiliation; he could have zapped those who mocked him – but he suffered through it all because he loved even his enemies. Does this even matter? Does Jesus matter to you? How?
11. Criminals speak to Jesus
Luke 23:39-43 “One of the criminals who hung there hurled/yelled insults at Jesus: he said, “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t’ you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today, you will be with me in paradise.”
Item: First Aid kit, Stephen Ministry kit
Did you know? From the very words of Jesus, it’ll take no longer than a day to get to heaven. Do you only pray to ask for Jesus to rescue you, bless you, protect you? Is it all about you?
12. Jesus asked for something to drink.
John 19:28-30 “Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty,” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When Jesus had received the drink, Jesus said,”It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”
Item: Vinegar in various cups, sponges to smell and touch
Did you know? This vinegar was a cheap wine that the Roman soldiers drank while waiting for those crucified to die. Do you offer Jesus your whole life, the best of you (everyday prayer, bible reading, regular giving, and regular church attendance), or a cheap life (prayer only when you are in trouble, don’t use your bible at all, giving what’s left over, and choosing anything else over church attendance)?
13. Jesus dies on the cross
Luke 23:44-46 “It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.”
Item: Altar cross covered in black sheeting
Did you know? Complete darkness covered the earth from noon until 3pm after Jesus died on the cross. All nature seemed to mourn over the stark tragedy of the death of God’s Son. Sunday matters because of what happened on Friday.
14. Jesus is laid in the tomb.
John 19:38-42 “Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple/follower of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He and Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night, took Jesus’ body, wrapped it in strips of linen, with spices. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there. A stone was placed over the entrance.”
Item: Heart-shaped stone, Resurrection Garden pot, a plant.
Did you know? John 3:16 God loved . . . God gave . . . We believe and trust/ put our weight on it . . . We receive eternal life, new life, Christ life. What will you do now with what you know?
15. Jesus is Alive!
Item: Basketful of empty eggs, live plant, live lily
Did you know? That God loves you so much, He sent his one and only Son, Jesus, to take the punishment for our sins (when we don’t love God and don’t love others) so that we can go to the big party in heaven one day when our time on earth is done. Jesus is preparing a place for all who love Him in Heaven. In the mean time, God wants us to talk like Jesus, and act like Jesus, by showing love to God and others. One way to do that is telling others the Good News that Jesus came to show us God’s love for us and others. Who will you tell this week? Another way to do that is to help someone in need. Who will you help today?
You can place the information in plastic stand-up frames which can be placed at each station, or use a small, cheap photo book with the information if the stations are not in one location.
Let me know of other ideas to keep the story fresh and new in the hearts of our families and in my own heart. A good challenge each year is to discover something new about the Easter story to share with your little people. This IS the Good News…may we be found faithful in sharing it well and in a way that let’s little people and their families engage in conversation about our great Jesus.
Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
1 John 3:18 NIV
(This blog was originally posted in February 2016)