Practice with Parents
April 17, 2011
Background: Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem was during the Jewish festival, Passover, which celebrated God’s deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt during the Exodus. Many people travelled to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, yet Jesus’ arrival was different. This festive arrival was the beginning of the end of his life. The symbolism of the Triumphal Entry passages (the name of this festive arrival) is striking. The passages indicate that the people around Jesus recognized him as a messiah, a deliverer, and a king. Jesus rode on a colt that had never been ridden (Mark 11:2, Luke 19:30). Being “un-ridden” symbolized purity, which was needed if royalty were to use the animal. Palm branches were used to welcome Jesus. Palm branches were a symbol in Jerusalem that indicated hope. Cloaks were spread on the ground (Matt 21:8, Mark 11:8, Luke 19:36), which is something that would have been done for a king (e.g., 2 Kgs 9:13). People cheered, “Hosanna!” (which means, “please save us!”) and they called him Son of David (which means he’s a royal figure; Matt 21:9, Mark 11:9, John 12:13). (John H. Walton & Kim E. Walton, The Bible Story Handbook, 303-305)
Scripture Emphasis: Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-40, John 12:12-26
Activity: Read the Triumphal Entry passages as a family. Ask your children why it was important that Jesus rode on a donkey, people called out to Jesus, waved and laid palm branches at his feet, and spread their cloaks (outer coats) on the ground. (Jesus was recognized as Messiah, Savior, and King.) At this point in the story of Jesus, things are about to change. For this short trip into Jerusalem, Jesus was hailed as king. Soon, this declaration of kingship will have him killed. But today is a day of celebration. After reading the passages, discuss what was similar and what was different. Have your children choose how to reenact the story, and dress up, grab some palm branches, and act out the story together.
Prayer: God, thank you for sending Jesus to Earth. Help us to remember who he really is and to continue to love him more. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Practice with Parents
April 21, 2011 (Maundy Thursday)
Background: Jesus celebrated the Passover meal with his disciples. We call this meal the Last Supper. During this meal, which is recounted in all 4 gospels (Matthew 26:17-29, Mark 14:12-26, Luke 22:7-20, John 13:1-30), Jesus gave new significance to the bread and the wine. It was common during the Passover meal for the person who blessed the bread to then break it as a sign that the meal had started. Jesus changed that tradition a bit by telling his disciples that the bread was his body. He said that the wine was his blood. In Luke 22:19 Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” The bread and wine serve as a reminder that Jesus’ body was killed and blood was poured out for the forgiveness of sins. (John H. Walton & Kim E. Walton, The Bible Story Handbook, 303-305)
Scripture Emphasis: Matthew 26:26-29
Activity: Have some flat bread and grape juice prepared. Read the story of Jesus’ Last Supper. Explain to your children that this meal was something special that Jesus shared with his disciples. Just like we do things to remember people who have died, Jesus wanted us to remember that he died to pay for our sins. When we have the Lord’s Supper (which is also called Communion or the Eucharist), we remember that Jesus died to pay for our sins. When you are old enough to understand this special thing we do in church, and when you decide to follow Jesus forever, you can also eat the bread and drink the juice. (If your child has made the decision to become a Christian, and you feel confident that he/she understands, bless the bread and juice and share in the Lord’s Supper together. If not, let the bread and juice serve as a visual reminder of Jesus’ sacrifice.)
Prayer: Thank you, God, for Jesus’ life, the things he taught, and that he was willing to pay for our sins. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Practice with Parents
April 22, 2011 (Good Friday)
Background: Good Friday is the day that Jesus was crucified. It is a somber day, one of mourning and darkness. Jesus died to pay for our sins. In the past, an animal sacrifice was required to pay for someone’s sins, and the requirement for animal sacrifices did not end. When Jesus became that sacrifice, he paid for our sins once and for all. Discussing death with children can be challenging, so it’s important to know how they understand death. Preschoolers (under age 5) do not understand death as final. We can tell them that Jesus’ body did not breathe anymore, but that good news would come on Sunday. 6-9 year olds understand death a bit more, and can understand that Jesus died on a cross. Keep in mind that they may be scared of death, so be sure to assure them that unlike everyone else, Jesus’ death was not final. 10 year olds understand death more fully and can comprehend the concept that Jesus died to pay for our sins. It’s important to let children know that Jesus’ death was not final, yet the concept that death precedes resurrection is important to discuss. (Theresa M. Huntley, Helping Children Grieve, 18-23)
Scripture Focus: Matthew 27:24-56, Mark 15:6-41, Luke 23:18-49, John 19:16-37
Activity: Talk about how Jesus was mocked, beaten, and put on a cross on Good Friday. Focus on the sadness and tragedy of this event, but leave out the gory details. Why did Jesus die on the cross? (He allowed men to put him on a cross so that he could pay for our sins. Jesus took all of the wrong things we’ve done to the cross with him. When he died, our sins went away too.) It is sad when people die. It was especially sad for the people who loved and knew Jesus. Even though today is a sad day, though, good news is coming. When people die, we don’t see them again. But this was not the case with Jesus. On Sunday, we’ll celebrate the good news!
Prayer: God, it must have been sad to let your son die on a cross. Thank you for letting him pay for our sins. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Practice with Parents
April 24, 2011 (Resurrection Sunday)
Background: Resurrection Sunday is the most important holiday in the Christian calendar. It is the day that Jesus was raised from the dead. Why is this important? Although many “prophets” died and stay dead, Jesus’ story ends differently. When he was raised from the dead, he conquered death. Because he rose from the dead, he can be with us in spirit and we can have new life. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” When a person decides to become a Christian, his/her old life (full of sin and bad choices) dies. He begins anew, all because of Jesus’ death and resurrection. That’s reason to celebrate!
Scripture Emphasis: Matthew 28:1-10, Mark 16:1-8, Luke 24:1-12, John 20:1-10
Activity: Attached to your Practice with Parents is a recipe for Resurrection Cookies. On the Saturday prior to Easter, prepare the cookies with your child. Talk about what each ingredient symbolizes and make the cookies together. On the morning of Resurrection Sunday, open the oven to see how the cookies turned out. You will have a big surprise in store!
Prayer: God, thank you raising Jesus from the dead. Thank you for the new life we have in Jesus. In Jesus’ name, Amen.