On the Sunday before Easter take a few minutes after breakfast, lunch or dinner to celebrate the Messiah’s arrival.
Read: John 12:12-15
Discuss:Pose these questions to better understand the reading:
Q: What did the people shout as Jesus entered the city riding a donkey? A: They shouted “Hosanna!” which means “Save us!”
Q: Why do you think the people were so excited about Jesus’ arrival? A: They had great hopes because they had seen Him do many miracles, including raising a man from the dead! (John 11:38-44)
Q: Do you think the people realized Jesus would need to die on a cross in order to bring them salvation? A: No. In fact, Jesus had to explain it to his closest followers. (John 12:20-33)
Activity: A parent stands at the top of the stairs and tells the children he/she wants them to join him/her upstairs in “heaven.” But the kids can’t touch the stairs or the railing. Let them mull over the dilemma. If they can’t figure out the solution, coach them to ask the parent to come downstairs and carry the kids up on his/her back. Explain that Jesus came down to us to make a way because we could not do it ourselves.
Pray: Turn the excited anticipation of the Palm Sunday crowd into your family’s prayer by reading aloud the following. “Dear Lord, we know that you are the One who came to bring us salvation. We know that you are the true King of our lives. We praise you this day for coming down to us so that we could spend eternity with you.
MONDAY THROUGH THURSDAY
Take a few minutes at breakfast, dinner or bedtime to focus the family on key events from the final week of Jesus’ earthly ministry.
Monday: Read John 13:1-17. In ancient households the lowest job of all was to wash the feet of guests. Usually this task was only carried out by servants. Discuss the many ways Jesus humbled Himself while on earth. Take turns washing one another’s feet and the read Philippians 2:5-8 before praying “Lord Jesus, thank you for humbling yourself for us. Help us to do the same with one another. Amen.”
Tuesday: Read John 17:20-23. Jesus actually prayed for those of us who would believe in Him in the future. He asked His Father to help us show unity by loving each other. Discuss how your family can show love to each other in a way that pictures God’s love. (Couples should read Ephesians 5:31-33 to reinforce how marriage is intended to be a picture of the relationship between Christ and His bride, the Church.) Pray “Lord Jesus, help our family to reflect the kind of selfless love you prayed for us. Amen.”
Wednesday: Read Luke 22:47-54. Even while Jesus is being wrongfully arrested, He shows love and compassion for the arresting soldiers. Pray “Lord Jesus, help us to show compassion and to love one another even when others treat us wrongly. Amen.”
Thursday: Read Luke 23:13-34. Pilate condemned Jesus because he feared a riot among the people. These were many of the same people who shouted “Hosanna” just a few days earlier as Jesus arrived in Jerusalem. Later, while on the cross, Jesus prayed for Pilate, the soldiers, and the crowd when He said “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Pray “Lord Jesus, thank you for being willing to forgive us even when we do the most terrible things. Give us the grace to also forgive one another. Amen.”
ON GOOD FRIDAY
A few options for focusing on why Jesus died on a cross…
With Young Children
First, ask one of the children to help you create a cross using the boards, hammer and nails.
Next, call the family together and read Romans 3:23 from the Bible… “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
Ask each person whether or not they have ever sinned. For younger children, explain the concept of sin as “when we do something wrong that goes against the good that God wants for us.”
After discussing the concept of sin, invite each person to take a piece of paper and write words that represent some of the sins they have committed – such as lying, hitting, stealing, saying bad words, etc. Younger children can just draw a picture of a mean face, hitting another person, etc.
Now invite an older child or parent to read Romans 6:23 and John 3:16 aloud.
Invite each person to “nail their sins to the cross” to symbolize what happened when Jesus died for us.
Once the sin pages are nailed to the cross, ask everyone to lay their hands on the cross and pray a brief prayer of thanks to God for what Jesus did for us on Good Friday.
Memorize this jingle – “Jesus took my sins away, on the cross that Good Friday.”
With Older Children:
Watch a film such as The Passion of the Christ depicting Jesus’ trial, scourging and death. Talk about the film and then pray together, “Lord Jesus, thank you for the sacrifice you make on our behalf. Amen.”
ON HOLY SATURDAY & EASTER SUNDAY
On Saturday (Easter Eve): Take a few minutes at breakfast, dinner or bedtime to reflect on what it was like for Jesus’ followers after they lay Him in the tomb.
Read: Matthew 27:57-66
Discuss: Have each member of the family name one person who knew Jesus and describe what they must have been thinking/feeling on the day before His resurrection. (i.e. Peter felt guilty for denying Jesus, Mary felt grief over losing her beloved son, Pilate felt nervous for condemning an innocent man.)
Pray: “Lord Jesus, thank you for going into the grave so that we could overcome death! Amen.”
On Easter Sunday:
Attend an Easter service together as a family. Then enjoy an egg hunt and favorite meal to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
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