Easter is an exciting time for kids ministry as teachers prepare to share the Easter story for kids. This story encapsulates what is commonly referred to as “Passion Week” or “Holy Week.” We first read of the term Passion Week in the 1300s where the phrase was used to describe the period of trials and sufferings that Jesus experienced culminating with his death and resurrection.
As we dive into the Easter story for Kids we’ll examine each day of Holy Week, provide reference passages from the gospels, and explore key thoughts you can share with your children. It is important to remember that Passion Week was not a haphazard series of events that randomly unfolded. Rather, as Isaiah teaches us, this was the eternal plan of God to redeem his creation.
He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished.
Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-44, John 12:12-17
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!
– Matthew 21:9
The Easter story for Kids begins on Palm Sunday where Jesus triumphantly entered Jerusalem on a donkey being hailed as king. Throngs of people threw their cloaks on the ground before him, waived palm branches in the air, and cried out “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” Hosanna is a Greek word often translated as “please save us.”
Key Thought: As Jesus rode into Jerusalem the crowds rejoiced. They saw Jesus as a king who would save them from the oppression of their Roman rulers. However, Jesus came not to save them from Rome but from their sins. The work God seeks to do in our lives is far bigger than our momentary sufferings or daily struggles. Jesus has come to free us from the tyranny of sin, to give us new life, and to bring us into the family of God for all eternity!
Jesus Cleanses the Temple
Matthew 21:12-17, Mark 11:15-18, Luke 19:45-48
My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!
– Matthew 21:13
On the Monday of Holy Week, Jesus visited the temple and found it overrun with buying and selling but not worship. The Temple was to be a place of sacrifice, prayer, and revelation, where God’s priests would make intercession for God’s people. But this is not what Jesus found. And so Jesus, prior to his great sacrifice, became angry, overturned the money-changers’ tables, drove them from the temple, and said “My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!”
Key Thought: Jesus is passionate about us worshiping God with purity of heart. When asked what of all God’s commandments was the greatest, Jesus responded “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (Matthew 22:37).”
Jesus is Questioned by Jewish Leaders
Matthew 21:23-27, Mark 11:27-33, Luke 20:1-8
By what authority are you doing these things?
– Matthew 21:23
The Easter story for kids continues on Tuesday, where the religious leaders of Israel questioned the authority of Jesus. In every possible way Jesus had disrupted the corrupt religious establishment of his day. This angered the religious leaders. Who did this Jesus think he was? And so the leaders conspired to trap Jesus, they confronted him, and demanded to know “By what authority are you doing these things?” Jesus answered their questions with a series of parables.
Key Thought: The authority of Jesus is an important question. Who is he? What right does he have to rule? Why should we listen to him above all others? C.S. Lewis rightly points out that one who said all of the things that Jesus said must either be a liar, a lunatic, or Lord. Jesus is the Son of God! His authority is ultimate. We must either submit to him as Lord of our lives, or else we are in defiant resistance of the one who came to save us.
Judas Agrees To Betrays Jesus
Matthew 26:14-16, Mark 14:10-11, Luke 22:1-5
How much will you pay me to betray Jesus to you?
– Matthew 26:15
On Wednesday, Judas Iscariot (one of Jesus’ 12 disciples) went to the leading priest to betray Jesus. John 12 tells us that Judas was in charge of the disciples’ money and would often steal from the money bag. This greed led Judas to ask a terrible question of the priests “How much will you pay me to betray Jesus to you?” The priests offered him 30 pieces of silver and Judas began looking for his moment of betrayal.
Key Thought: It is easy to look at the Easter story and paint Judas as the villain. But, truth be told, we have chosen selfishness over service to God. It is important to remember that Peter also denied Jesus 3 times. The key is to not let our failures define us. Instead we should repent of our sins and receive the forgiveness that God so graciously offers!
Last Supper & Arrest in Gethsemane
Matthew 26:17-56, Mark 14:12-51, Luke 22:7-53, John 13:1-38, 18:1-11
Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.
– Luke 22:42
The next step in our Easter story for kids is Maundy Thursday. The word Maundy comes from the latin, ‘mandatum’, or ‘command’ which refers to the instructions Jesus gave his disciples at the Last Supper. On this day Jesus shared a final Passover meal with his disciples and he instructed them to eat bread and drink wine in remembrance of him. This became the foundation of what Christians call “Communion” or the “Eucharist.”
After sharing a meal Jesus went to Gethsemane, a garden that sits at the base of the Mount of Olives. That night he wrestled with his impending death and he prayed “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Surrendering to his Father’s will, Jesus returned to his disciples where Judas betrayed him with a kiss.
Key Thought: The king of kings came as a suffering servant. It’s almost too much to understand. The Savior would wash his disciples’ feet and die a criminal’s death, not because he had to, but because he chose to. As we seek to become like Jesus we must follow his example of humility as he said “the greatest among you must be a servant. (Matthew 23:11)”
Jesus Tried, Crucified, & Buried
Matthew 26:57-27:61, Mark 14:53-15:47, Luke 22:54-Luke 23:56, John 18:12-19:42
It is finished.
– John 19:28
Why would we call the day that Jesus died on the cross “Good Friday?” There are several ideas, one being that at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion, “good” may have referred to “holy.” And so the day of Jesus’ great sacrifice was “Holy Friday.” On this day Jesus was tried before Pilate, whipped, beaten, mocked, hung upon a cross, and then buried in a tomb.
Key Thought: The crucifixion of Jesus is beyond comprehension. We can never rejoice enough that God would come in human flesh and humble himself to the point of death. Because of this, Jesus is deserving of all of our praise and worship. This is why Philippians 2:9-11 tells us “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Jesus’ Body Lies in a Tomb
Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.
– Matthew 27:65
On Saturday the Easter story appears to have hit a dead end. The promised Messiah dead, his body laying in a tomb, sealed shut with a giant stone. On this day the chief priests and Pharisees petitioned Pilate to place guards outside the tomb to make sure Jesus’ body wasn’t stolen. To which Pilate responded “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.”
Key Thought: Saturday is a day of tension in the Easter story. Will God come through on his promise? Has evil won? Was all of our hope in vain? In many ways these are the questions we ask throughout our walk with Christ. Ultimately, in the silence of Saturday we are called to place our faith in the coming miracle of Sunday.
Jesus Rises From The Dead
Matthew 28:1-18, Mark 16:1-20, Luke 24:1-49, John 20:1-29
He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen.
– Matthew 28:6
The crescendo of our Easter story for Kids comes on Easter Sunday, the day our Savior rose from the dead! The resurrection of Christ is the single greatest event in all of history. It is the day that God forever broke the power of sin and death. Through Christ’s great sacrifice evil was conquered and redemption was made available to all who believe!
Key Thought: If our children asked us “why is Jesus rising from the dead so important” how would we answer? The truth is, the entirety of the Christian faith hinges on this event. As Paul states in 1 Corinthians 15:19 “And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.” But our hope goes far beyond this life! Christ has risen to eternal life and so too shall we who trust him as Lord and Savior!
EASTER BIBLE VIDEOS FOR KIDS
Looking for some great content to bring your Easter lessons to life? Sharefaith Kids has a host of incredible Easter Bible videos that your kids are going to love! Each of these videos forms the centerpiece of an easy-to-teach lesson that includes curriculum, lesson slideshows, activity pages, and family devotionals.