Holy Week: Holy Saturday (almost there)

We’ve taken a journey through Holy Week, with questions for family discussion. Ready for one more day? It’s Holy Saturday!

Three empty crosses looking forlorn

Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubble Jesus was dead, so what happened on Saturday of Holy Week?

We don’t know for sure but probably not much. Saturday for Jewish people, was the Sabbath; a day of rest. Jesus had been buried in a tomb (a place to put dead bodies; probably a cave) on Friday, before sunset – when the Sabbath started. Working on the Sabbath was forbidden. It was to be a day of downtime and prayer. There was probably a great deal of sadness and mourning among Jesus’ followers, who were afraid and hiding out.

Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubble If the disciples had gone into hiding, who buried Jesus’ body?

If you’re not sure about the answer to this one, how about a little look-it-up-in-the-Bible practice? Find the answer in all four Gospels but how about this one: Luke 23:50-54. (Or you can click on the Bible passage to read an on-line Bible. But don’t you want to show your adults how quickly you can find the Gospels?)

Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubble Wait a minute! The guy who buried Jesus… he was one of the council who had arrested Jesus; the ones who had convinced Pilate to condemn him to death?! What is that about?

That’s right, he was a part of the Sanhedrin. John’s Gospel tells us that another member of the Sanhedrin, Nicodemus, joined in the burial process, both at great risk to their public identity.

Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubble How did only one or two people move the stone to close the tomb? Wasn’t it huge?

Right, this wasn’t your garden-sized stone! Estimates are that it weighed between one-and-one-half to two tons! But it was easy to close the tomb – gravity was employed. The circular stone was in a channel carved with a slight downward pitch towards the tomb’s entrance. (See the photo below.) To close the tomb one would have only had to remove a wedge that held the stone in place; it would then roll closed. Opening the tomb would have been another story!

A Jerusalem tomb showing how the stone would have been placed
Not Jesus' tomb, just an example. Note: the box is a step into the tomb. Notice the channel for the stone.

Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubble (No right or wrong answers here!)

  • Whom do you relate to: Joseph of Arimathea – willing to be a secret disciple, or the followers of Jesus in hiding?
  • Do you suppose the disciples in their grief wondered about the words of Jesus with regards to being killed and rising after three days? (For a couple of examples check out Mark 8:31, Mark 10:32-34, or John 2:19).

Thanks for joining us on our Holy Week series.


Photo credits:
Empty crosses offered by Max Pixel, in the CC0 1.0 Public Domain.
Tomb stone channel by James Emery, who licensed this photo on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.
Speech bubbles from public domain via WPClipart.com.

Holy Week: What is good about Good Friday?

How about some more family discussion on our journey through our series on Holy Week? Even though this day was full of sadness.

Remember: scroll down just until you see a “Time Out. Talk About…” question. Read the question with your group and allow everyone to share their answers. Scroll some more to see the answer. A good reason for computer time!

The judgment of Jesus

Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubble Why do you suppose it’s called “Good Friday?” What can be good about the day Jesus died?

an empty crossActually there is no known correct answer to this question. The Friday before Easter being called “Good Friday” could have come from the shortening of an English phrase “God’s Friday” much like the word, “good-bye” originally started off as “God be with you.”

It certainly wasn’t a good day for the followers of Jesus back when it actually happened; they had to watch him be killed.

We can call it “good” because we can look back on the day Jesus died, from our perspective of knowing what happened on Easter!

But we are getting ahead of ourselves; there are still the events that happened on Friday of the very first Holy Week. When we left off yesterday, Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane

Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubble Jesus was arrested in the garden, but what happened next?

Jesus had a long night. (It was late at night when he was arrested). He went through a series of trials, was beaten, whipped, spit upon, treated badly, and sentenced to die on a cross – a humiliating and cruel form of torture and execution.

Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubble But why were the people who had Jesus arrested so determined to kill him?

The simple answer: Fear. (Unfortunately fear can result in hatred.) The Sanhedrin had ordered Jesus’ arrest. The Sanhedrin was a very powerful Jewish court made up of religious leaders. They were threatened by Jesus; his message and his popularity. The gospels portray the Sanhedrin as a group most interested in preserving their own power and position.

Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubble What was it that happened with the man named Barabbas? (To hear how Barabbas is pronounced, go here.)

It was the practice at Passover to let one prisoner go free. Pilate (the Roman governor) offered to release Jesus, but the crowd demanded instead the release of Barabbas, a known robber and murderer. The gospels make it clear that Pilate did not believe that Jesus was guilty. But the crowd yelled, “Crucify him.” Pilate eventually succumbed to the will of the crowd and ordered Jesus to be whipped and then to be crucified.

Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubbleWhat does crucified mean?

Jesus was killed by a process called “crucifixion;” we say he was “crucified.” This is where a person is either hung on a cross or nailed to a cross (the latter in Jesus’ case). It was a horrible way to die. (Thank goodness we don’t do that anymore!)

Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubble (No right or wrong answers here!)

  • Have you ever been accused of something that you didn’t do? What happened?
  • When have you seen or heard about an instance of hatred that probably stemmed from fear?
  • When have you given in to the pressure of what the “crowd” wanted to do? How did you feel about this?
  • What do you suppose happened to Barabbas? (The Bible doesn’t tell us.)

Stay tuned for the next installment of our series on Holy Week.


Photo credits:
Photos are from my archives. The painting of the Judgment of Jesus was taken in Corfu, Greece. Unfortunately I failed to note the artist.
Speech bubbles via WPClipart.com, in the public domain.

Holy Week: The Last Supper and the Garden

It is Thursday and that means our post for today in our Holy Week series, focuses on Jesus and his disciples at the Last Supper and in the Garden of Gethsemane. Time to gather your family around the computer screen – scoot in close so you can see – for a quiz of sorts. (And a chance for some family discussion.) Remember, scroll just enough to see a question. Before scrolling further down, see if anyone knows the answer.

First, a picture of some kids reenacting the Last Supper.

The Last Supper enacted by kids

Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubble Two questions: Why do we call it the “Last Supper” and they were celebrating some sort of special occasion – what was it?

It is called the “Last Supper” because it was the last time that Jesus and his disciples ate together before Jesus was killed. They were celebrating the Passover feast.

Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubble The Passover feast? What is Passover?

A Hebrew paints blood on the lintel of a doorpost

Passover refers to when the Israelites were slaves in Egypt. That is when the very first Passover occurred. God had brought a series of plagues on the Egyptians, to persuade the Pharaoh to free the Israelites so they could leave Egypt.

The last plague (out of a series of ten; that Pharaoh was a tough cookie!) was the plague on the firstborn; every first-born son was killed. The Israelites, however, were safe. This plague “passed over” their houses because they had been instructed to mark their door posts with the blood of a lamb.

God had told the Israelites that they should have a special meal every year afterwards to commemorate this saving event. This meal is full of symbolic foods that help the Israelites (and Jews today!) re-tell the story – and remember.

Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubble Jesus did something special at this meal, which we use today to remember. What was it that Jesus did?

Luke 22:19-20 tells us that during this meal Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying…

'This is my body, which is given for you. Eat this as a way of remembering me!

After the meal he picked up a cup of wine and gave thanks to God. He then gave it to his disciples and said…

'This is my blood. It is poured out for you, and with it God makes his new agreement.

Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubble Breaking bread… a cup… that sounds real familiar! I hear that when….

That’s right, Communion. When we eat of the bread and drink of the wine (we use grape juice) we are remembering Jesus.

Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubble Where did Jesus and his disciples go after they finished their meal? (Hint: the photo below shows)

Jesus prays as the disciples sleep, in the Garden of Gethsemane

They go to the Mount of Olives and the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus knows that his time on earth is short. He is compelled to spend time with God in prayer. He asks his disciples to pray and he goes about a stone’s throw away to pray.

Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubble What was he praying about?

With much anguish Jesus prayed…

'If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.  Matthew 26:39.

Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubble (No right or wrong answers here!)

  • When Jesus spoke about his body and his blood, do you suppose the disciples understood what he was talking about?
  • What does Communion mean to you?
  • What do you make of Jesus’ prayer in the garden? What does it teach you about Jesus?
  • The disciples ended up falling asleep in the garden. How would you have felt if you had been there and had fallen asleep on the job?

Stay tuned for the next installment of our series on Holy Week.


Photo credits:
Last Supper and garden photos by Evans or Maria Koukios, © 2011, used by permission.
Passover clipart by Richard Gunther, sourced via ClipArt.com and used with permission.
Speech bubbles via WPClipart.com. Quote marks via Clker.com. The last two are in the public domain.

Holy Week: Day 4 – Cleaning Feet – A Blessing?

On Wednesday’s it was my habit to present to you a Blessing to use with your children. There may be a blessing in here somewhere, but allow me to mostly make this post be an entry in our Holy Week series.

You know the drill… scroll slowly and stop when you see the speech balloon (so as not to expose the answers too early!) These questions are meant for a little family discussion around the computer screen.

Jesus washes his disciples feet

Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubble What Holy Week event is happening in this picture?

It is the foot-washing that took place during the Last Supper. I know, the Passover feast that Jesus shared with his disciples happened on a Thursday; I’m taking liberty with the timing of things.

Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubble Why did Jesus wash everyone’s feet?

Probably because their feet needed cleaning. (Sandals + no paved roads = dusty, dirty, smelly feet). But, as you can suspect, there is a deeper meaning. (I feel another question coming on…)

Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubble Whose job was it, in those days, to wash people’s feet?

That’s right – a servant, and usually it was the lowest of the low-on-the-totem-pole, servant. John’s Gospel tells us that after he had finished, Jesus asked his disciples:

'Do you understand what I was doing?

Someone must have said, “No” because Jesus went on to explain how he intended it to be a teaching example.

'And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. John 13:14

I like how this passage continues, a few verses later with…

'Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. John 13:17

Jesus was telling us to do acts of service in a humble way and we would be blessed!

This flows perfectly into a Wednesday’s Weekly Blessing! So, right now, turn to your child and touching their arm say…

'May others know of God’s love through your generosity and kindness.

(Repeat for each child if you’ve got more than one.)

Make plans to attend the Maundy Thursday service at 7:00 pm in the downtown sanctuary at FUMC. We will be celebrating The Last Supper with Holy Communion. See you there?

Stay tuned for the next installment of our series on Holy Week.


Photo credits:
By Peter DeHart, © 2007. Used by permission.
Speech bubbles via WPClipart.com. Quote marks via Clker.com. Both are in the public domain.

Holy Week: Day 3 – Looking for a way

Thanks for joining us on our journey through Holy Week. We offer this series of discussion guides for your home use, because after all, you spend more time with your kids than we get on Sunday mornings at FUMC. (It’s okay if you don’t know all of the answers to the following questions. Let them spark discussion!)

So far on our journey we’ve been through Palm Sunday; “Yesterday” was at the Temple. Today… someone is doing something secretive; looking for a way…

A staged photo showing Judas meeting with the religious leaders

Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubble What could be happening in this photo? (Is someone holding a money bag?)

What’s happening involves some shady dealing. The religious leaders did not like what they were hearing from Jesus. They were afraid. (What if Jesus stirred up the people? That could result in the Romans getting upset; the Romans might take away our power!)

The religious leaders wanted Jesus out of the way. They were more than pleased when Judas, one of Jesus’ disciples, showed up with an offer they couldn’t refuse.

Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubble What was it that Judas agreed to do?

The Bible tells us that the religious leaders had been plotting to arrest Jesus and kill him. Then Judas shows up, saying…

'How much will you pay me to betray Jesus to you? Matthew 26:15

Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubble How much did they pay Judas?

If you’re not sure about the answer to this one, how about a little look-it-up-in-the-Bible practice? Find the answer at Matthew 26:14-16.

Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubble Who were these religious leaders?

This body of leaders was called the Sanhedrin. Their leader was Caiaphas, the high priest. Technically, Israel was under Roman rule, however the Romans allowed the Sanhedrin some power. This group of seventy-one men made laws, had their own police force, and could arrest people and send them to jail. (But they needed the Roman governor’s permission to condemn someone to die.)

Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubble (No right or wrong answers here!)

  • In what way has the Sanhedrin misunderstood Jesus?
  • In what way does Judas seem to have misunderstood Jesus?
  • Has a friend ever turned against you? How did you feel?

Stay tuned for the next installment of our series on Holy Week.


Photo credits:
By Maria Koukios, © 2011, used by permission.
Speech bubbles via WPClipart.com. Quote marks via Clker.com. Both are in the public domain.

Holy Week: Day 2 – Clean up in Aisle Ten

Jesus turns over tables at the Temple

Ready to continue our journey through Holy Week?

Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubble What is happening in the above picture?

We are not sure what day of the week Jesus caused a ruckus at the Temple. He probably spent time every day at the Temple after his arrival in Jerusalem. However, there were no waving branches or laid out cloaks at the Temple. No, it is likely that Jesus was making enemies as he angrily over-turned tables and benches; driving both buyers and sellers out.

Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubble What made Jesus do this?

Jesus was distressed at what he found. Salespeople (selling animals to be sacrificed) and money changers, were using God’s Temple to conduct business. (Currency exchange was needed because no “foreign” coins could be used in the Temple, only Temple money.)

Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubble What did Jesus say?

'This is a place of prayer, not a den of thieves! Matthew 21:13.

Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubble But such a system of selling animals benefitted those who were arriving from out-of-town. Do you suppose there were other factors that contributed to Jesus’ actions?

Well, some of the merchants could have been dishonest, however there has to be another reason as Jesus threw out both the sellers and their customers (Matthew 21:12). Here’s another possibility: The outer court of the Temple, where this took place was called the “Court of the Gentiles.” Gentiles, anyone who was not Jewish, could worship at the Temple but could not go into the inner Temple areas. Perhaps Jesus was defending the Gentiles ability to worship. (With all of the noise of market activity, it was hardly a place suitable to worship.)

Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubble (No right or wrong answers here!)

  • We can imagine how the sellers felt but how do you suppose the crowds reacted to Jesus?
  • What about the religious leaders; how did they react? (Hint: Read Matthew 21:15-16)
  • What does this story teach you about Jesus?

Stay tuned for the next installment of our series on Holy Week.


Photo credits:
By Maria Koukios, © 2014, used by permission.

Holy Week: Day 1 – Palm Sunday

Holy Week is almost here; the week that leads up to Easter Sunday. Do you have your Easter eggs ready – the ones you can use to tell the story?

How about some family discussion about the first event in Holy Week? (Hint: scroll just enough to not reveal the answers to the “Time Out. Talk about…” questions!)

A donkey walks across a field

Okay, gather round the computer screen. Go ahead… ask the question…

Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubble What is the first event of Holy Week?

That’s right; it’s the day we call “Palm Sunday,” named because of what took place as Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. He was welcomed by a happy crowd! It was sort of like a parade.

Our story takes place against the backdrop of the city of Jerusalem preparing for the Jewish festival of Passover. Multitudes of people would have been coming to Jerusalem to celebrate. Thus there was a considerable crowd, with lots of excitement and waving of palm branches!

Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubble Why were they waving palm branches? And they were shouting something, weren’t they? What was it they were saying?

The waving of palm branches (and the laying of their coats on the road) was because they were excited to see Jesus! They called out:

Open quote marks Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9)

Hosanna is a word which has appeared to change in meaning. It started off meaning “save us now.” However, here it seems to be a word of praise. Word had gotten out: the Messiah was coming!

Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubble Messiah? What is that?

For hundreds of years the Jewish people had been waiting for the Messiah: someone who would save them. The prophets of the Old Testament had announced the coming of this savior. Jesus was the Messiah, but not the sort of messiah that the people expected! Both The crowds (and some of the disciples) anticipated that Jesus would take command in Israel as a king, and save them from the oppressive rule of the Romans. The events of Psalm Sunday were the public welcome of this awaited kingly Messiah.

Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubble If Jesus was a king, why wasn’t he riding a big, white horse?
A king riding a white horse!

We all have different ways we understand God. It looks like the people in Jerusalem had an understanding that God would send them a Messiah who behaved as they wanted. And they wanted a warrior king! The people didn’t realize that Jesus came not as king of a nation. He was a humble, gentle king.

Jesus was a king with no need of a warhorse! He came to town riding a lowly donkey.

 
Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubble (No right or wrong answers here!)

  • How do you suppose Jesus felt about their misunderstanding of the type of Messiah that he was?
  • The people wanted Jesus to take care of their problems, but what did Jesus really come to do?
  • What do you like about the type of king Jesus is for you?

Want to learn more about Palm Sunday? Check out these posts. Even more discussion questions for your family!

Stay tuned for the next installment of our series on Holy Week.


Photo credits:
Donkey by Rob Bixby
Royal king by Filko Dawidzinski, all licensed on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.
Speech bubbles via WPClipart.com. Quote marks via Clker.com. Both are in the public domain.