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This Easter lesson for youth and older children takes a new spin on the Easter story by tying in interactive ideas and object lessons.
Many of us have heard the Easter story so many times, we've lost our wonder. This lesson focuses anew on Jesus' example of serving others right before He was to face the cross. Jesus wanted to make sure His disciples would not only remember Him and His teachings, but would become "copycats" by serving and loving others.
At the end you'll find a link to a printable lesson plan.
Photo credit - Kaysha @ Pexels
Have a few students line up single file one behind the other. Have the first student turn around towards you and watch you act out a scene such as putting an apple on his head, picking up a bow and arrow and shooting the apple off his head. (Do NOT say any words or tell them what you are doing.)
Have the next student turn around while the first tries to mimic the actions you did. Continue until all have had a chance, then ask the last person to tell in words what the actions were. By this time they will have become very distorted!
DISCUSS...many times we follow the actions of others. In our study today we will look at how we can accurately follow the example Jesus gave to His disciples as well as us the day before He died on the cross.
Have students turn to the Gospel of John chapter 13.
When we read from the Gospel of John, we first need to identify which John this is that God used to write this Book of the Bible. This was not John the Baptist, but it was John the disciple, the fisherman. John was most likely one of the first two disciples to begin following Jesus along with Andrew.
He was one of the first to follow Jesus; he walked and lived with Jesus seeing His miracles and hearing His teachings for about three years. He was one of the three disciples closest to Jesus along with Peter and James. He was beside Jesus at the Last Supper, in the garden when He was arrested, in the courtyard when Jesus was tried, at the foot of the cross with Mary and one of the very first to see the empty grave where he saw and believed!
John never calls himself by his name in his writing; through his writing we can see his identity was based on his relationship with Jesus.
Jesus gave us the ultimate example of serving! He left Heaven and bent low to earth living as fully man and still fully God because of His great love for each of us. As Jesus bent to wash the disciples feet, He did what the lowliest of servants normally would do.
Read John 13:1-5:
Serving takes "bending down" - making ourselves lower than others. Jesus laid aside His glory and position beside the Father in Heaven and came down to earth to live as a man and ultimately lay down His life for us that we may have life through Him.
Bending down to wash the disciples' feet represented so much more than "foot washing." Jesus demonstrated how He would be laying His life down for them and all mankind so that our sins may be forgiven through His sacrifice of paying the price for our debt.
No matter how clean we may think we are, our good could never outweigh our sin nor could it ever compare to the righteousness of Jesus Who lived a perfect life having lived as one of us and yet never sinning.
“For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”
2 Corinthians 5:21
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.”
By bending low and becoming one of us and laying aside His own life, Jesus demonstrated He was really the only One worthy of washing their sin away, our sin away...by washing their feet.
Photo credit - Lum3n @ Pexels
Peter didn't understand what Jesus was doing; sometimes his words got ahead of his head and heart.
Jesus explained first of all that "unless I wash you, you have no part with me." We must first allow Jesus to wash us clean by His blood through salvation. When we accept Jesus as our Savior surrendering our life to Him, our sins are forgiven and washed away because of what Jesus did on the cross and God raising Him from the dead.
Salvation is not the end though; it's the beginning of a life as a "secret service agent." Once we have been saved, we don't need to be saved or completely washed again and again.
However, we live in a dirty world and therefore we still come into contact with the dirt of temptation and we still sin. We were made new at salvation, but not perfect! When we do sin, we can come to God confessing and showing Him the dirt, asking Him to wash and forgive us, and He promises He will.
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."
1 John 1:9
Salvation puts us in a relationship with God; we become His children when we believe and trust Jesus as our Savior. (John 1:12) We never lose that relationship just like we will always be our earthly parents' child no matter what.
We can lose fellowship though when we sin. Just like times we disobey our parents and it's no longer easy to talk or be in their presence because we know we were wrong. When we come clean and admit our sin to God turning back to Him, we are allowing Him to wash that sin away and restore our fellowship with Him.
Optional: Salvation Object Lesson with Cell Phone
Serving takes on the attitude of humbleness - the opposite of pride.
C.S. Lewis described it this way -
"Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less."
Jesus never drew attention to Himself when serving or healing; He didn't do it for His own praise, but for the glory of the Father. So we should not serve for others to see us, but we serve to demonstrate our love for God and others.
How can we follow Jesus' example this Holy week? We do this by making ourselves lower for Christ's sake, humbling ourselves to serve others...and not to be seen. We are to be "secret service agents!"
"Now that we know these things, we will be blessed if we do them." Let's take action and serve others - not just this week, but every day that others may see Christ in us - "the hope of glory." (Colossians 1:27)
We see the Easter story wasn't limited to a single day; it is to be lived out daily as Jesus lived.
"the one who says that he remains in Him ought, himself also, walk just as He walked."
-1 John 2:6
Music is a wonderful tool which engages our emotions with a message. Play the following song by Matthew West giving students a few moments to think about ways they can become a secret service agent for Jesus right now in their lives.
You may also want to give them a piece of scratch paper and pencil so they can jot down things the Holy Spirit may bring to their minds. Then take time to allow for them to share and discuss together.
If you are doing this with your family or a small group, put this Easter Bible study into action! Have a large bowl or container of water and towels waiting. Bend down and begin washing each of their feet. Playing Christian worship music in the background helps place focus on this act of serving as worship and not something awkward. Have them think of what it must have been like for Jesus to wash their feet.
Lay aside the towel, and continue in a time of prayer allowing others as they feel led to wash someone's feet.
There is something very humbling and moving about someone else bending down low to wash your feet. It can be a beautiful experience and help us to imagine what it must have been like for the disciples as Jesus washed their feet.
Sometimes we have become so familiar with the story of Easter we lose our wonder. This lessons looks at the disciple John and how he discovered anew the wow of Easter when our identity is found in Christ.
Special note: We do preview the websites to which we link, but are unable to peruse them completely. We try to check others' faith statements and make sure they do profess Jesus Christ as God's Son and salvation is found only in Him. It must, however, be your responsibility to personally dig into God's Word and allow the Holy Spirit to be your first and final teacher on all subjects.
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