Jesus Prayed in the Garden

The wind was picking up now, blowing clouds across the moon, shrouding the garden in darkness.

“Stay up with me?”  Jesus asked his friends.  They said yes and waited under the olive trees, but they were tired and soon feel asleep.

Jesus walked ahead alone, into the dark.  He needed to talk to his heavenly Father.

He knew it was time for him to die.  They had planned it long ago, he and his Father.  Jesus was going to take the punishment for all the wrong things anybody had ever done, or ever would do.

“Papa! Father!” Jesus cried.   And he fell to the ground.  “Is there any other way to get your children back?  To heal their hears?  To get rid of the poison?”

But Jesus knew—there was no other way.  All the poison of sin was going to have to go into his own heart.

God was going to pour into Jesus’ heart all the sadness and brokenness in people’s hearts.  He was going to pour into Jesus’ body all the sickness in people’s bodies.  God was going to have to blame his son for everything that had gone wrong.  It would crush Jesus.

Violent sobs shook Jesus’ whole body.  Then Jesus was quiet.  Like a lamb.  “I trust you, Papa,” he said.  “Whatever you say, I will do.”

Suddenly, through the trees, a glitter of starlight flashed off steel.  Into the quiet garden came whispers, muffled voices, clanking metal—and the sound of boots marching.

Jesus stood up.

He woke his friends.  “Now is the time,” he said gently.  “Everything that was written about me—what God has been telling his people all through the long years—it’s all coming true.”

And into the night, with burning torches and lanterns, with swords and clubs and armor, they came—an army of soldiers.  Judas led them straight to Jesus so they could arrest him.

Jesus was waiting for them.

–from the Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones

The Last Supper

Dear Parents,

This week in The Gospel Project® for Kids, our journey takes us to The Last Supper in John 13–17. Although this is the same event as we focused on last week, this week we are emphasizing Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. Our story starts when Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, had approached the religious leaders. (Matt. 26:14-16) For 30 pieces of silver, Judas agreed to betray Jesus. Hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth, David prophesied the Messiah would be betrayed by a close friend—one who broke bread with Him. (Ps. 41:9) Jesus knew Judas Iscariot’s true motivations from the moment Jesus called him to be a disciple. (John 6:70-71; 13:18-19; 17:12.) Jesus’ death and resurrection was God’s plan from the very beginning. (Acts 2:23)

During the Passover meal on the night He was betrayed, Jesus did something very unusual. Knowing that His death was near, Jesus washed His disciples’ feet—even the feet of Judas. (See John 13:2-11.) Jesus set forth an example of love and humility for His disciples to mirror in their own actions towards each other. (John 13:14-16)

After Judas left to betray Jesus, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him” (John 13:31). He told His disciples He would prepare a place for them (John 14:1-4), promised that the Holy Spirit would come to them (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:7-14), warned them about the trials they would face as His followers (John 16:1-4,33), and encouraged them through prayer (John 17:9-19). Jesus also prayed for all who would believe the gospel from their testimony. (John 17:20-26) Then Jesus led them to the garden where He was betrayed and arrested.

In the Old Testament, God made a covenant—or promise—with His people. He gave them commandments to follow so they could live in right relationship with Him. God’s people broke the covenant. They didn’t obey God, and they didn’t love Him. Jesus made a new covenant by dying on the cross. He brought forgiveness and made the way for people to know and love God again.

When believers participate in the Lord’s Supper, they remember the last night of Jesus’ life, when He prepared to take God’s wrath upon His sinless shoulders. Believers also proclaim His death and resurrection until He returns for His church, like He promised. (John 17:24; 1 Cor. 11:26)

Begin your time with prayer. Review John 13–17. Using a pitcher of water, a bucket, and a towel, wash your family members’ feet. Remind kids that Jesus washed His disciples’ feet at the last supper. There were no paved roads in Jerusalem, and everyone walked everywhere they went. Feet were probably stinky! Normally, the least powerful person in a household would wash feet, but in this story, Jesus, who has the power of God, humbly washed His disciples’ feet.

Preparation for Passover

Dear Parents,

Thank you for continuing this journey of The Gospel Project® for Kids. This week, we talked about preparing for Passover and read from Matthew 26:17-30; Mark 14:12-26; and Luke 22:7-23. As the Passover celebration drew near, Jerusalem hummed with excitement. Everyone wondered if Jesus—teacher, miracle-worker, and prophet—would come for Passover. (John 11:56-57) The Passover meal was a permanent statute God intended for every Israelite family to observe each year. (See Ex. 12:1-28; Lev. 23:5-8.) But it was no secret the religious leaders were determined to kill Jesus. Jesus had warned His disciples what would happen this Passover. (Mark 10:33-34; Luke 18:31)

On the first day of Unleavened Bread, Jesus sent Peter and John to sacrifice the Passover lamb. He told them to look for a man carrying a water jug. The man with a water jug would lead them to a large upstairs room. Carrying the water from the well was a woman’s work in Jesus’ day. But Jesus already knew that Judas had agreed with the religious leaders to betray Him for money (Matt. 26:14-16), so He privately made the arrangements for Passover. Jesus wanted to share the Passover with His disciples before He suffered and died. (Luke 22:14-15)

Peter and John took the unblemished lamb to be sacrificed at the temple as required by the law of Moses, then brought the portion that was to be eaten to the upper room. They prepared the traditional Passover of roasted lamb, bitter herbs dipped in salt water, unleavened bread, and wine. Jesus broke the bread and gave it to His disciples, “This is My body, which is given for you” (Luke 22:19). Then He passed the cup and said, “This cup is the new covenant established by My blood; it is shed for you” (Luke 22:20). Jesus told His disciples to eat in remembrance of Him.

What was Jesus saying? What the sacrifice of the Passover lamb could not do—take away sins once and for all—the perfect Lamb of God was going to do. Jesus, the perfectly sinless Son of God, was going to take the punishment for sin upon Himself on the cross. (See Heb. 10:1-10.) Emphasize to kids that as Jesus’ disciples prepared for Passover, Jesus prepared to die. In His death on the cross, Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice to take the punishment for sin. Jesus protects from God’s wrath those who trust in Him.

Prepare a meal together. Guide each family member to take a part in choosing the menu, preparing the food, and setting the table. Over dinner, discuss the preparations that were made for the meal. Remind your family that Jesus gave instructions about preparing the Passover meal.  Read Matthew 26:17-30. Before, God’s people had eaten the meal as a reminder of God’s deliverance of His people out of Egypt (Exodus 12:43-49), but now the meal would be a reminder of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Talk about ways that your family can remember each day what Jesus has done.

A Widow’s Gift

Dear Parents,

This week’s Bible story comes from Mark 12:41-44 and Luke 21:1-4, and it focuses on the widow’s gift. While Jesus was in Jerusalem in the days leading up to the Passover, He often taught in the temple complex. The scribes and Pharisees questioned Jesus in hopes of tricking Him into saying something that would provoke the Romans against Him (Luke 20:20) or would make Him seem like a blasphemer. But all their questions simply proved that Jesus, the Son of God, had a wisdom and authority that could only come from God. (Matthew 22:46; Mark 12:34)

After warning the people against the scribes, Jesus sat down where He could watch people give their offerings. The treasury of the temple was located in the women’s court. Thirteen trumpet-shaped receptacles were set up to receive donations, purification offerings, and the half-shekel tax. Jesus watched as the wealthy put large sums of money in the offering boxes. Then a poor widow put in two small copper coins.

Jesus summoned His disciples and remarked, “I assure you: This poor widow has put in more than all those giving to the temple treasury” (Mark 12:43). Undoubtedly the disciples were astonished. The widow had given the smallest amount of currency in Jesus’ time. Hadn’t Jesus noticed all the others giving more?

The widow was desperately poor. Jesus mentioned that she had given everything she had to live on. The woman, who should have been a recipient of charity, instead gave to God, trusting Him to take care of her needs. The wealthy people, however, had given out of their surplus. They gave a lot of money, but it did not really “cost” them much.

Jesus gave up everything He had in heaven to come to earth and save us from our sins. Jesus even gave up His own life, dying on the cross in our place. When Christians know and love Jesus, we can serve Him as the Lord of our lives. Out of love for Jesus, we offer everything we have. God takes care of His children and rewards those who seek Him. (Matt. 6:31-33; Mark 10:29-31; Heb. 11:6)

Ask each family member to go get the best gift she has been given recently. Guide each family member to show and tell about her gift, explaining why it is her favorite. Remind kids that everything we have is a gift from God. Read Mark 12:41-44. Discuss ways you can serve Jesus with what you have, no matter how much or little.

Jesus Cleansed the Temple

Dear Parents,

Thank you for continuing this journey of The Gospel Project® for Kids. This week’s Bible story comes from Matthew 21:12-17; Mark 11:15-19; and Luke 19:45-48.

In preparation for the Passover feast, Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The Books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke also describe Jesus’ cleansing of the temple. Herod the Great completely rebuilt the temple in 20–18 B.C. as part of his architectural projects. Herod’s temple was surrounded by walls and gates, with specific places for Gentiles, women, and men to worship God and offer sacrifices.

When Jesus entered the Court of the Gentiles, He was furious to see people buying and selling in the temple. Animal sacrifices were required for participation in the temple, since God declared that all Jewish men must appear three times before the Lord each year, and they must not appear empty-handed. (See Deut. 16:16.) For many worshipers traveling from all over the Roman Empire to take part in Passover, it was easier to purchase unblemished animals for sacrificing in the Court of the Gentiles. There, they also exchanged foreign currency for the temple taxes and offerings. So why was Jesus angry at the people?

The merchants buying and selling in the temple were treating the temple as a market or bazaar, not like the house of prayer for all nations that God had intended for it to be. (See Isa. 56:7.) The moneychangers’ prices were so exorbitant, they were practically robbing the people. (Mark 11:17) On top of that, people were using the temple courts as a shortcut to get to their businesses. The Gentiles who wished to worship God in peace were surrounded by greed and extortion.

After Jesus threw out the merchants and moneychangers, the chief priests and the scribes wanted to destroy Him. (Luke 19:47) Jesus was angry that people were misusing the temple, the place people could go to meet with God.

Today, Christians do not go to a temple to meet with God or to offer sacrifices for sin. Jesus died on the cross as the final payment for sin, and God’s Spirit lives in us!

Guide your family to discuss times when they were angry for the wrong reasons. Ask them how they could have responded differently. Read Matthew 21:12-17 together. Jesus was angry for the right reasons. People were sinning by misusing the temple, which was the place people could go to meet with God. Today, we don’t have to go to a temple to meet with God because God’s Spirit lives in all who trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Jesus Was Anointed

Dear Parents,

This week in The Gospel Project® for Kids, our journey takes us to Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; and John 12:1-8. Each of these accounts notes Jesus’ anointing six days before Passover. Jesus was in Bethany, eating supper at Simon the leper’s house. Since lepers were social outcasts, Simon may have been healed from his leprosy by Jesus. Jesus and His disciples attended the supper, as did Jesus’ friends Lazarus, Martha, and Mary.

While Jesus was reclining at the table, Mary broke open an expensive alabaster jar of pure nard, a fragrance imported from India. Alabaster was an expensive form of marble. Alabaster jars were intricately crafted and sealed so that to open the jar, the owner would have to break it, and the perfumes or oils within the jar would be used immediately. Mary could not pour out a little bit of the nard and keep the rest for herself. Out of sincere and total devotion, Mary poured all of the nard onto Jesus.

In stark contrast to Mary’s display of love, Judas Iscariot reacted with indignation. In Matthew’s account, the other disciples also wondered why Mary had not sold the nard—worth about a worker’s yearly wage—and given it to the poor. John states that Judas was not altruistic; Judas was in fact pilfering money from Jesus’ ministry. (See John 12:6.)

“Leave her alone,” Jesus said. “She has kept it for the day of My burial” (John 12:7). The disciples would have plenty of time to minister to the poor, but Jesus would die in less than a week. Mary probably had no way of knowing what her offering of love and devotion would have signified, but Jesus said that from that moment on, people would remember what she had done for Him.

Unlike the rich young ruler who thought the cost of following Christ was too high (Mark 10:22), Mary believed that Jesus holds more value than costly perfume. Mary’s actions were not wasteful but worshipful. By allowing Mary to anoint Him, Jesus showed that He is more valuable than anything. Jesus knew He would soon die for sinners, be buried, and rise from the dead on the third day. Those who trust in His death and resurrection will receive eternal life.

Guide your family to stand in a circle and close their lips. Taking turns, each person should turn to the person on her left and say, “(Name), if you love me, would you please smile?” If a person smiles, he must sit down. The last person standing wins! Discuss ways that we show our love for others. Read Mark 14:3-9 together. Remind kids that Mary worshiped Jesus with the perfume because she loved Him and knew He was more valuable than anything she had. Discuss ways that we can worship Jesus.

The Triumphal Entry

Dear Parents,

Thank you for continuing this journey of The Gospel Project® for Kids. Today’s Bible story focuses on The Triumphal Entry (Matthew 21:1-17; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-44; John 12:12-19). The Sunday before Easter is Palm Sunday—the day Jesus entered Jerusalem as the King of kings the week before Passover. Many of God’s people traveled to Jerusalem for Passover. Jesus and His disciples traveled to Jerusalem as well. Near Bethphage (BETH fayj) and Bethany near the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples ahead into a village. Jesus told them, “You will find a young donkey tied there. No one has ever sat on it. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone says to you ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it.’” Jesus was going to fulfill a prophecy by the prophet Zechariah that said, “Look, your King is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey.” (Zech. 9:9)

Jesus made a spectacular entrance into the city. He rode a donkey, and people laid branches and their robes on the ground in front of Him. The people welcoming Jesus into Jerusalem believed He was the promised Messiah, but they expected Him to overthrow Roman oppression and set up an earthly throne. Jesus sent a different message.

Jesus entered the temple and turned over the tables of the moneychangers and those selling doves. Read Isaiah 56:6-7. Jesus referred to Isaiah, declaring that His kingship would not just be over the Jews but over all people. While Jesus was in the temple, He healed the blind and the lame. Check out the words of Isaiah 35:4-6. Jesus’ actions declared, “I am not just your King; I am also your God.”

Finally, the priests and the scribes heard the children worshiping Jesus as their King. “Do You hear what these children are saying?” they asked. Jesus replied, quoting Psalm 8:2: “Have you never read: You have prepared praise from the mouths of children and nursing infants?” Jesus gladly received their praise because He was worthy of their praise.

As we prepare for and celebrate Easter, help kids connect the dots between God’s promises of a Messiah and Jesus’ coming. Help them understand why Jesus came: to save the world from sin!
Conduct a parade through your home. Allow one child to march around while other family members wave their arms and show excitement as he marches by. Read Luke 19:28-44 and remind kids that people welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem as King! Talk about ways that others can see that Jesus is King in your life.

The Rich Young Ruler

Dear Parents,

Thank you for continuing this journey of The Gospel Project® for Kids. This week, we focused on the rich young ruler. Jesus had set out on a journey with His disciples; they were likely heading to Jerusalem. (See Mark 10:32.) Suddenly, a man ran up to meet Jesus. The man knelt before Jesus and asked Him a question: “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Jesus reminded the rich young ruler of the commandments, but by asking him to give up his wealth, Jesus revealed the man’s failure to keep the first commandment—“Do not have other gods besides Me.” The man went away sad because his wealth was his god.

Jesus said, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” The disciples were surprised. Wasn’t wealth a sign of God’s favor? Wealthy people could freely give in the synagogue and make sacrifices. If a rich person could not enter God’s kingdom, who could?

Jesus said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” What was Jesus saying? Pushing a piece of thread through the eye of a needle is hard enough, but a several hundred-pound mammal? Impossible!

Being wealthy is certainly not a sin in itself; God often chooses to bless people with wealth. But as the rich young ruler shows, wealth can be a great hindrance when a person loves his wealth more than he loves the One who gave it to him. But Jesus pointed out that all things are possible with God. God has the power to change people’s hearts. Salvation comes by His grace, which enables sinners to repent and follow Jesus.

Then Peter said, “We have left everything and followed You.” The disciples sacrificed a lot to follow Jesus, but Jesus assured them that anything they left behind would pale in comparison to the fellowship of believers and the treasures that awaited them in heaven. Jesus is better than anything He asks us to give up to follow Him. Not only does He offer us Himself, He offers eternal life.

Hide a surprise for your children somewhere in your home. Give kids instructions to find the treasure. After kids have found the hidden item, read Matthew 19:16-30 together. Ask kids to tell you what the ruler treasured. Discuss some of the items your family treasures and remind kids that a relationship with Jesus and His gift of salvation are the greatest treasures we could ever have.

Mary and Martha

Dear Parents,
This week we looked at the story of Mary and Martha from Luke 10:33-42

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Many of us make the same mistake Martha made. We get so busy working, going to school, playing, or watching television that we forget the most important thing. We forget to spend time with Jesus! We must be very careful that we don’t get so busy doing good things that we leave out the best! After all, Jesus is the most important thing!

Dear Jesus, help us to remember that you are the most important thing in our lives. Don’t let us get so busy with other things that we forget to spend time with you. Amen.

Zacchaeus

Dear Parents,
Zacchaeus was worried. People said Jesus was coming to town. Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus, but so did everyone else! And Zacchaeus was too short to see over the crowd—unless he could find something tall to stand on.

“Trees are tall—maybe a tree would work,” Zacchaeus thought. So he found a tree beside the path Jesus would take through town. He grabbed the lowest branch and pulled himself up, up, up until he found a perfect branch for sitting. He could see everything!

Before long, Zacchaeus could hear the noise of a great crowd of people coming closer. Jesus must be coming! Yes, there he was—with people all around him. But when Jesus got under the tree, he stopped. Zacchaeus held his breath. Why was Jesus stopping?

Jesus looked straight up into the tree. He looked right at Zacchaeus sitting on the branch above him. “Zacchaeus, come down right now!” Jesus said. “I’d like to visit you at your house.”

It didn’t take long at all for Zacchaeus to climb out of that tree. Jesus was coming to his house? How could it be?

Zacchaeus wondered if Jesus knew that he had been a bad person. Sometimes Zacchaeus tricked people and took their money. He kept some of the money for himself. If Jesus knew it, maybe he wouldn’t still love Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus felt very sorry for the wrong things he had done.

But a wonderful thing happened that day. Jesus loved Zacchaeus—even though Zacchaeus had tricked people and done wrong things. That made Zacchaeus very happy—so happy that he gave money back to everyone he had cheated.

It was the best day of Zacchaeus’s life. Jesus loved him!

Today your child learned that Jesus loves us even though we sometimes do wrong things—like Zacchaeus did. Look for opportunities to reinforce Jesus’ love for your child even when he or she does something wrong.