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4. Jesus and Death and Burial (Matthew 27:45-61; Mark 15:33-47; Luke 23:44-56; John 19:28-42)

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Main Point: Jesus died to take away the sin of the world.

Key Verse:

Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but He died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. - 1 Peter 3:18a NLT

Props: Sign that says, “SIN”; Stuffed animal lamb

Teacher: Before class, choose a student to look up John 8:12. Tell him or her to be ready to read it aloud when called on.

Teacher, begin with prayer: Lord, thank You for willingly going to the cross. You were innocent and You did not deserve to die. Thank You for dying to take away my sin. Amen.


Say: Last week we studied a really difficult thing. It was the beginning of the most important event in history - when Jesus went to the cross. Being hung on a cross was called crucifixion, and it was the way the Romans punished criminals back in Jesus’ time.

It is very important for us to realize that Jesus was NOT a criminal. He never did anything wrong; He was innocent. People purposely lied about Him. The Jewish leaders who were in charge of His trial wanted to find Him guilty of something. When He said He was the Christ, the Son of God, they said He must be a liar, a blasphemer. Jesus was the Truth, but they called Him a liar.

Ask: Could Jesus have stopped the men from doing what they did to Him? Yes! Say: This is sort of like asking if a person can stop an ant! Jesus could have stopped them at any time. The men had NO power over Him (John 19:11). Jesus was the one with ALL the power, but He held back His power and allowed the men to arrest Him, lie about Him, whip Him, and nail Him to the cross. Jesus willingly went to the cross to become the sacrifice for our sin, to make us right with God (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Note to Teacher: The four Gospel accounts tell the story of the Crucifixion from different points of view. It is interesting to note that only Matthew and John were actual witnesses of the event. It is widely held that Mark was Peter’s interpreter in Rome, recording Peter’s thoughts and recollections of Jesus’ life. Luke, a companion of Paul, wrote his account largely through research. His account does not include Old Testament prophecy, because he wrote to the Gentiles, who did not know of the prophecies.

Jesus’ Death (Matthew 27:45-56; Mark 15:33-41; Luke 23:44-49; John 19:28-37)

Teacher: Have your volunteer read John 8:12 aloud. Ask: What did Jesus call Himself? The Light of the world. Say: That Light was about to leave the world. God gave the people there a dramatic picture of this: He made the sun stop shining in the middle of the day.

From noon until three o’clock, the whole land was covered with darkness.

About three o’clock, Jesus cried out in a loud voice. He said, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” This means, “My God, My God, why have You deserted Me?” - Matthew 27:45-46

Jesus was quoting an Old Testament verse in Psalm 22:

My God, my God, why have You deserted me? Why do You seem to be so far away when I need You to save me? Why do You seem to be so far away that You can’t hear my groans? - Psalm 22:1

We can’t imagine that God would ever leave Jesus. God, the Father, LOVED His Son. Why would God ever leave Jesus, or seem far from Him?

The answer is SO important to us: It was at this point, that Jesus willingly took on the sins of the entire world (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Teacher: Call up two volunteers: one student, one adult. Say: (Name of student volunteer) will stand for mankind, for each one of us. When God created Adam and Eve, they were good. They were pure, and they spent time with God. The people had a relationship with God. God came down and spent time in the garden with the man and woman. Motion like “God” is above the volunteer. Motion back and forth between the volunteer and “God.” There was nothing blocking their relationship, and everything was great. Then Adam and Eve sinned. Have volunteer hold “SIN” sign over his head. The Bible says:

It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, He has turned away and will not listen anymore. - Isaiah 59:1-2 (NLT)

Sin separates us from God because God is perfect and holy. Because of their sin, He could no longer spend time with the man and woman. They were polluted with sin; God had to turn away.

Say: Enter Jesus. Point to your adult volunteer. Say: Jesus never sinned (2 Corinthians 5:21). And God was greatly pleased with Him (Mark 1:11). They abided with each other. Motion back and forth between “God” and “Jesus,” signifying that they have a relationship. Their relationship was perfect. Say: But then...Have the adult volunteer hold out his arms, as Jesus did on the cross. Say: At three o’clock that afternoon, Jesus cried out to God. At that moment He took on the sin of the world. Take the “SIN” sign and transfer it to your “Jesus” volunteer. 1 Peter 2:24 says, “He personally carried our sins in His body on the cross.” (NLT) When God saw the sin that Jesus had taken on, He had to turn away from Jesus. This was SO painful for Jesus because He had never known separation from God (John 10:30) - until that very moment. This separation from His Father cut Jesus deeper than the wounds on His back or the nails in His hands and feet.

Application: (Say this while volunteers are still in place. Refer to volunteers.) Each one of us has sinned. Jesus was willing to take on my sin, and your sin. If you place your faith in Jesus, then when God looks at you (point to first volunteer), He no longer sees your sin. Your relationship with Him is restored. (Motion from volunteer up to “God.”) Thank your volunteers.

Optional Illustration: Think back to the Old Testament sacrifices. When a person brought an animal to sacrifice, he had to place his hand on the head of the animal (Leviticus 1:4). Place your hand on your toy lamb. This symbolized the man’s sin being placed on the animal. The animal became the substitute for the guilty man. The animal was killed because the blood of the animal covered the man’s sin (Leviticus 17:11). The animal sacrifice was a picture of what Christ was going to do for every person one day. This day, on the cross, the sins of all people were placed on Jesus.

Say: From the beginning of time, Jesus’ death and resurrection was God’s plan to save the world. Everything had happened in God’s perfect timing. There was one more prophesy about Jesus’ death.

Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” As a cruel trick, one of the people dipped a sponge in wine vinegar, tied it to a stick, and offered it to Jesus. This had been foretold in Psalm 69:21.

Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. - John 19:30 (NASB)

Jesus proclaimed, “It is finished!” The Greek word is tetelestai. It means to complete, or to pay in full. In Jesus’ day, the word tetelestai was written on reciepts to show that a bill had been paid in full. Jesus called out, “Tetelestai!” because the sins of mankind had been paid for - in full. The job that God had given to Jesus was completed. The prophecies were fulfilled. The final Lamb had been sacrificed.

Notice that Jesus gave up His spirit. Almost a week earlier, Jesus had told the disciples, “No one can take My life from Me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what My Father has commanded.” (John 10:18) At just the right time, Jesus chose to give up His life.

Additional teaching for older students: At that moment the temple curtain was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook. The rocks split. Tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs. After Jesus was raised to life, they went into the holy city. There they appeared to many people. - Matthew 27:51-53

When Jesus gave Himself as the final sacrifice, He brought victory over death. A symbol of this was that many people were raised from the dead. And like an exclamation mark at the end of a powerful sentence, God sent an earthquake to finish off this important moment.

These are amazing things, but by far, the most amazing was the temple curtain being torn. Remember, in the Old Testament, the temple was where God came to be with His people. However, because God is perfect and holy, no one could look at His presence. A very thick curtain hung between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. This curtain separated sinful men from the holy God. When Jesus gave up His life to take away our sin, that curtain split in two. It tore from the top to the bottom - this showed that it was God who did the work of bringing man back to Himself.

And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. - Hebrews 10:19-20 (NLT)

Application: If you are a believer in Christ, Jesus has made the way for you to enter into God’s presence. You are welcome to draw near to God anytime!

For younger students: At the moment that Jesus gave up His life, God made the earth tremble, and other amazing things happened.

The Roman commander and those guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened. They were terrified. They exclaimed, “He was surely the Son of God!” - Matthew 27:54

Ask: Why do you think these men were terrified? Listen for answers. Say: With their own hands, they had nailed the Son of God to a cross. They made fun of Him, and watched Him die. We can only imagine the look on their faces when the earth shook and they realized who Jesus was. Luke 23:47 tells us the Roman commander began to praise God.

Sometimes, it would take a person several days to die on the cross. The next day was going to be a special Sabbath day - or a day of rest. The Jews did not want any bodies hanging on the crosses on the Sabbath. They wanted to make sure Jesus and the criminals were dead, so they could take down their bodies. Sometimes the soldiers would break the legs of a criminal to make him die faster.

But when they came to Jesus, they saw that He was already dead. So they did not break His legs. Instead, one of the soldiers stuck his spear into Jesus’ side. Right away, blood and water flowed out. - Luke 23:33-34

Blood and water mixed together was a sign that someone had died. The Old Testament had foretold these things also (Numbers 9:12; Psalm 34:20, Zechariah 12:10).

Jesus’ Burial (Matthew 27:57-66; Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42)

That evening, a rich man named Joseph of Arimathea, went to speak to Pilate. Joseph was a Jewish leader who had become a follower of Jesus (Mark 15:43). But he was afraid to tell anyone that he believed in Jesus. He asked Pilate if he could take Jesus’ body for burial (Matthew 27:57-58).

Nicodemus went with Joseph. He was the man who had earlier visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought some mixed spices... The two men took Jesus’ body. They wrapped it in strips of linen cloth, along with the spices. That was the way the Jews buried people’s bodies. - John 19:39-40

Joseph and Nicodemus placed Jesus’ body in a new tomb that was cut out of rock. Then they rolled a large stone in front of the tomb. Several women who loved Jesus watched all of this from a short distance (Matthew 27:56). One of the women was named Mary Magdelene, from whom Jesus had once cast out seven demons (Luke 8:2). The women went home to prepare spices and perfumes to annoint Jesus’ body.

The next day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to speak to Pilate. They told Pilate that Jesus had predicted that on the third day, He would come back to life. The leaders were afraid that Jesus’ disciples would steal Jesus’ body and then tell everyone that He had been raised from the dead. Pilate sent soldiers to seal and guard the tomb (Matthew 27:62-66).

Jesus’ disciples had scattered. These men were crushed because their leader, and dear friend, had been put to death. They had given up everything to follow Jesus. They did not understand that this was why Jesus had come. They would soon learn that God does not allow death to have the last word.

He will swallow up death forever. The Lord and King will wipe away the tears from everyone’s face. He will remove the shame of his people from the whole earth. The Lord has spoken. - Isaiah 25:8


Key Verse:

Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but He died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. - 1 Peter 3:18a NLT


Main Point: Jesus died to take away the sin of the world.

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Unless otherwise noted the Scriptures taken from: Holy Bible, New International Reader’s Version, (NIrV®)

Copyright © 1995, 1996, 1998 by International Bible Society / Used by permission of IBS-STL. All rights reserved worldwide.

Special thanks to John R. Cross, The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus, GoodSeed International.

Related Topics: Children, Children's Curriculum

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