Lately I’ve been pondering it and praying about Easter devotional ideas to use with older children. This idea has been rolling around in my mind and heart for the last few days. It’s in a pretty rough form, but if you feel led to do it with your family, I know the Lord will show you how to modify it and make it work for you.
This is a pretty solomn activity to be done on “Good Friday”. It’s purpose is to help us think about what our sins actually cost our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
We’ll be doing this devotion with our family on Friday. If you choose to do it with yours, please let me know how it goes and how you changed it to fit your family (or would change in the future).
May the Lord bless each of you as you help your family’s eyes stay turned upon Him this week and weekend.
Family Devotional Activity for families with Older Children
- Several med-small pieces of paper for each family member
- A large nail for each family member
- A hammer
- A tree, piece of wood, or something to drive a nail into
1. Read Mark 15:1-39 together, and talk through the passage. (The Message version is wonderful, and is printed below)
2. Discuss the importance of realizing how costly our sins are to Jesus. Talk about the “little sins” that we don’t give much thought to. Talk about those continual habitual sins that we can’t seem to kick. Discuss conviction of sin, and the fact that even you, as adults, struggle with sin. (That is, if you do… I know that I do!) Help your children recognize some areas in their lives that need cleansing and forgiveness.
3. Read Isaiah 53:5. “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole.”
4. Then explain:
Jesus’ pain and abuse and death on that cross was because of me… because of you… because we chose to turn away from God and go our own way. Jesus died instead of us, because the death of a perfect sacrifice was the only way to restore us to perfect fellowship and healing with God Our Father.
The sins we commit, even those we take so lightly cost Jesus His life. It is wonderful to know that when we confess our sins, God will cleanse and forgive us (1 John 4:9). But woe to us for saying the words, “I’m sorry”, and continuing to repeat that sin (Romans 6:1)!
Sometimes we need to be reminded of Grace, and sometimes we need to be reminded of the weight of our sin, and of the value / high cost of our forgiveness.
5. Give each family member several pieces of the med-small paper, and ask them to privately list those sins you talked about earlier: the ones we don’t pay much attention to, the ones we continue to do on a habitual basis, and anything else the Holy Spirit brings to mind. This is between God and each individual person.
6. Next, give each family member a nail, and talk about what the nails that held Jesus to the cross looked like – how big it was, how painful it would be to have it driven in our wrists and feet, etc….
7. Each person takes their sins and nail to the designated tree, piece of wood, or watever it is you are using. Then one by one, let each family member hammer their own sins to the tree. With each hammer blow, reflect on Jesus, and what you think He was thinking, feeling. Ask Him to forgive you for taking His death and forgiveness lightly, and ask Him to help you put those continual sins to death.
8. Then leave those sins nailed to the tree. They are paid for. It is finished. Praise the Lord! And with a grateful heart, walk away, thanking God for the forgiveness, release, and healing He brings through the death and resurrection of Jesus.
“[The Father] has delivered and drawn us to Himself out of the control and the dominion of darkness and has transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, In Whom we have our redemption through His blood, [which means] the forgiveness of our sins.” Colossians 1:13-14
What a gift and blessing!!!
9. Sometime before Easter morning, parents can pull those sins off of the tree and throw them away. When the children awake on Sunday, the tree is empty. But if possible, leave the nails as a reminder.
“Blessed be God— he heard me praying. He proved he’s on my side; I’ve thrown my lot in with him. Now I’m jumping for joy, and shouting and singing my thanks to him.” Psalm 28:6 (The Message)
“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.” (2 Cor. 9:15)
Mark 15:1-39 (The Message)
At dawn’s first light, the high priests, with the religious leaders and scholars, arranged a conference with the entire Jewish Council. After tying Jesus securely, they took him out and presented him to Pilate. Pilate asked him, “Are you the ‘King of the Jews’?”
He answered, “If you say so.” The high priests let loose a barrage of accusations.
Pilate asked again, “Aren’t you going to answer anything? That’s quite a list of accusations.” Still, he said nothing. Pilate was impressed, really impressed.
It was a custom at the Feast to release a prisoner, anyone the people asked for. There was one prisoner called Barabbas, locked up with the insurrectionists who had committed murder during the uprising against Rome. As the crowd came up and began to present its petition for him to release a prisoner, Pilate anticipated them: “Do you want me to release the King of the Jews to you?” Pilate knew by this time that it was through sheer spite that the high priests had turned Jesus over to him.
But the high priests by then had worked up the crowd to ask for the release of Barabbas. Pilate came back, “So what do I do with this man you call King of the Jews?”
They yelled, “Nail him to a cross!”
Pilate objected, “But for what crime?”
But they yelled all the louder, “Nail him to a cross!”
Pilate gave the crowd what it wanted, set Barabbas free and turned Jesus over for whipping and crucifixion.
The soldiers took Jesus into the palace (called Praetorium) and called together the entire brigade. They dressed him up in purple and put a crown plaited from a thornbush on his head. Then they began their mockery: “Bravo, King of the Jews!” They banged on his head with a club, spit on him, and knelt down in mock worship. After they had had their fun, they took off the purple cape and put his own clothes back on him. Then they marched out to nail him to the cross.
There was a man walking by, coming from work, Simon from Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. They made him carry Jesus’ cross.
The soldiers brought Jesus to Golgotha, meaning “Skull Hill.” They offered him a mild painkiller (wine mixed with myrrh), but he wouldn’t take it. And they nailed him to the cross. They divided up his clothes and threw dice to see who would get them.
They nailed him up at nine o’clock in the morning. The charge against him—the king of the jews—was printed on a poster. Along with him, they crucified two criminals, one to his right, the other to his left. People passing along the road jeered, shaking their heads in mock lament: “You bragged that you could tear down the Temple and then rebuild it in three days—so show us your stuff! Save yourself! If you’re really God’s Son, come down from that cross!”
The high priests, along with the religion scholars, were right there mixing it up with the rest of them, having a great time poking fun at him: “He saved others—but he can’t save himself! Messiah, is he? King of Israel? Then let him climb down from that cross. We’ll all become believers then!” Even the men crucified alongside him joined in the mockery.
At noon the sky became extremely dark. The darkness lasted three hours. At three o’clock, Jesus groaned out of the depths, crying loudly, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
Some of the bystanders who heard him said, “Listen, he’s calling for Elijah.” Someone ran off, soaked a sponge in sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down.”
But Jesus, with a loud cry, gave his last breath. At that moment the Temple curtain ripped right down the middle. When the Roman captain standing guard in front of him saw that he had quit breathing, he said, “This has to be the Son of God!”
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