Behind the Crucifixion

Scripture: Matthew 27:33-56, Mark 15:23-41, Luke 23:32-49, John 19:18-37

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will learn Jesus was willing to endure a painful death to provide for the forgiveness of our sins.
  • Students will learn Jesus was the ultimate and perfect sacrifice.
  • Students will learn when we are baptized, we participate in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus – getting forgiveness of our sins and becoming Christians. (Romans 6:3-5)
  • Students will learn how the crucifixion took place.

Guiding Question: How can students learn the way the crucifixion took place?

Materials: Replica of whip

Procedure: Teach the story of the crucifixion from the scriptures above. Explain that when people say “the blood of Jesus washes away our sins” they do not mean that God uses blood to physically wash away our sins. This phrase means that when Jesus died on the cross for us and shed bled, that was the moment when all of our sins were forgiven and we could have a relationship with God and Jesus. When we are baptized, we become Christians and receive forgiveness for all of our sins.

Help the students understand the realities of the crucifixion in age appropriate ways. Jesus was beaten – the whip was short and had several leather strips to the end of each strip were attached two metal balls (make a replica if possible to show students). The hands of Jesus would have been tied over his head to a post he would have been beaten perhaps more than 40 lashes because the Romans did not have the restrictions. 40 lashes were considered to be fatal. After being beaten on the back, shoulders and legs, Jesus would have had strips of flesh hanging and have lost quite a bit of blood. The crown of thorns was made from a local vine with large thorns – the thorns would have been pressed into the skin of his forehead causing him to bleed profusely from the capillaries in the head. They would have been beaten in with a stick to add to the pain and bleeding. He was made to drag his cross about 650 yards from the fortress to Golgotha – usually prisoners dragged just the cross piece, which may have been what the authors meant – either way the entire cross weighed 300 lbs and the cross piece alone 100 pounds. Remind students this weight would have been placed on top of the areas that were still raw from the beating making it extremely painful. The nails put through the wrists and foot arches of Jesus would have been square and made of iron – a rustic railroad spike is probably similar to the size and look. (Bringing in similar sized iron spikes, and having children try to even lift something heavy can make the experience even more understandable.)

Crucifixion forced the person to put their weight on their feet with the nail in them to push up enough to be able to take a breath. It was a slow and painful death. The “drink” he was offered while on the cross was a mild anesthetic to take the edge off of the pain (but he refused it), people died from suffocation and possibly death was hastened by the injuries from any beatings, etc. The sword through the side was to give medical proof Jesus was truly dead before they took him from the cross – blood separates that way only after death. Be sure to end the lesson by emphasizing the amazing love Jesus has for us to have gone through all of that to save us from our sins.

Additional Questions: How can students learn what Jesus went through because of His love for us?

Supplemental Activity: Have the students read through the story of the crucifixion and create a timeline of events. After noting each event, the students can explain beneath the event how what occurred demonstrates Jesus’ love for us.

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