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Drama, Puppet, and Storytelling Lessons, Ideas, Activities, and Resources for teaching the story of Jesus' Trial and Crucifixion.

Including: Cross, Jesus, Caiaphas, Pilate, Scourging, Nails, Centurion, Golgotha, Place of the Skull, Calvary, and related. Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22; John 18, etc.

Drama, puppets, scripts, skits, acting, newsroom, etc.

Last edited by Neil MacQueen
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Trial and Crucifixion
A Photo Drama Workshop


Students will pose scenes from the story to create a display of "Photos Taken at the Trial and Crucifixion of Jesus."  Emphasis is on the emotion and reactions found in the story and our own. A set of 10 "captions" that tell the story is provided as a PDF in the lesson. These captions recount a kid-friendly version of the Mark 14 story of Christ's Trial and Crucifixion.

Scripture Reference:

Mark 14:43-15:47 (see attached PDF)

Leader Preparation:

  • Gather costumes and props needed for drama activity.
  • For older grades, you may want to make a copy of the script.
  • Label three areas around the stage as: Bethany, Mary and Martha’s Home, The Tomb

Materials List:

  • Download an print several copies of the Story in Ten Photos PDF (attached to the lesson)
  • Props
  • Costumes
  • Digital Camera/cellphone to record the drama (a tripod will also come in handy to hold the picture still!)
  • A TV or Screen that you can connect and show the photos on during class time.
  • A Printer for printing the photos afterward to make the display.

Lesson Plan


Welcome the children and explain that today you will be creating photos that tell the story of Jesus’ trial and Crucifixion. The pictures will be put together to create a storybook.

Study and Take Photos:

Read the Story Photo Captions to the students (or have students read them), then go back to Photo 1 and quickly pose and photograph it. Take several photos if needed. Emphasize emotions/reactions/attitudes.


Review all the photos, having different students read the "captions" (the sections in the script) for each photo.

Follow up with questions and additional insights. In particular, ask students how they would have "felt" and "reacted" in those particular scenes, and what was going through Jesus' mind -- especially his feelings about people.

Note that the disciples and friends of Jesus were afraid and not very prominent in these scenes, but many were there watching.

Ask: "How do you think Jesus felt seeing his friends hiding their faces and not speaking up?"

Ask: "How do you think Jesus feels about US when we don't stick up for him, feel embarrassed to say we follow him, or embarrassed to tell others "we go to church" ??

Conclude with a prayer THANKING JESUS for forgiving all of us, including those of us who hide our faith and sometimes mock him by the way we live our lives.  Thank Jesus for forgiving the soldiers, the criminals, PIlate, and all the rest, even the crowd that shouted "Crucify Him."

You can assign individual students to each "Photo" in the script to look for the name of "someone to be forgiven" in the section of the script/story and turn that into their prayer. (Yes, Jesus forgave Judas, Caiaphas, that's the point of the cross!  We don't deserve it. In fact, we don't deserve the life God has given us because we have not lived up to God's expectations for us, but Jesus came to save, not condemn.)

Originally posted by Jaymie Derden from: State Street UMC, Bristol, VA  and modified/updated by a member of the Content Team


Last edited by Neil MacQueen

Trial and Crucifixion

Drama Workshop

Summary of Lesson Activities:

Children will be acting out the story of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion using “frozen picture acting."

Scripture Reference:

Luke 22 & 23 (with different lessons giving different emphasis)

Memory Verse:
“God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die.” (John 3:16, CEV)


  • Even though he was accused of doing wrong, Jesus was innocent.
  • When we mess up, Jesus forgives us.

Lesson Objectives:

  • The class will learn the story of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion by listening to Luke 23 and acting out the story using “frozen pictures”.
  • By listening and acting the children will understand that Jesus was accused of doing wrong even though he was innocent.
  • Children will understand that Jesus forgives people who were cruel to him or who have sinned.

Leader Preparation:

  • Read the scripture passages and attend the Faith Quest Workshop Leaders Bible Study.
  • Prepare a closing prayer.
  • Gather the materials.

Materials List:

  • Biblical costumes
  • Strips of paper with the events (those listed in scripture section previously)
  • Polaroid camera (optional)
  • Copies of scripts
  • Events on individual cards for sequencing the story

Lesson Plan


Greet the children and introduce yourself. Wear your nametag. 

Explain to the class that they will be acting out the story of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion using “frozen picture acting.” 


Scripture/Bible Story:

  1. Luke 23
  2. Read the passage to them (it is fairly long) while they read along. If they have read it in previous weeks you may choose only to summarize the events.
  3. To reinforce the sequence of events you could play a game where the class puts the events in order. Write the event on cards, shuffle, and have the class discuss the events and place in order.
  • Pilate questions Jesus
  • Jesus is brought before Herod
  • Crowd yells “Nail Him to a cross!”
  • Pilate gives Jesus the death sentence
  • Simon carries Jesus’ cross
  • Jesus is nailed to the cross and says “Father, forgive these people.”
  • Soldiers tease Jesus and gamble for his clothes.
  • Jesus shouts “Father I put myself in Your hands.”
  • Jesus dies.
  • Jesus is placed in the tomb


  1. Explain to the class they will be acting out the events in Luke 23 using a frozen picture technique. The narrator will read the lines while actors are showing the motions. Four scenes in the action will be frozen when the narrator says, “Freeze”. The object is to show a snapshot of a dramatic moment.
  2. Warm-up exercise: Have the class practice while you read the following. They act out the motions silently and freeze when told. In this passage the children can all act out Simon’s actions such as rowing the boat and throwing and pulling up nets: Jesus was standing by a lake near Simon Peter’s fishing boat. He asked Simon Peter to take him out to a deeper part of the lake (freeze) and let down his nets (freeze). They caught so many fish that their nets began ripping apart (freeze).
  3. The class will be divided into three groups each having a scene to rehearse:
    Pilate & Herod question Jesus and give death sentence.
    Jesus walks through the street and is nailed to the cross.
    Jesus dies on the cross and is buried.
  4. Give each group their lines (see attached scripts), assign a narrator, assist with costumes, and assign an area to rehearse. Shepherd and workshop leader provide assistance and suggestions as they rehearse (about 15 minutes).
  5. Have each group present their drama (going in correct sequence) with actors freezing action for 30 seconds when narrator says Freeze.
  6. Take picture! (either use a Polaroid camera or pretend to take a picture) Applause!
  7. Put away props and costumes.


Sharing and discussion:
Here are a few questions that can be discussed with possible answers.

  1. Why did Pilate condemn Jesus to death even when Jesus was innocent?
    -Possibly Pilate thought that Jesus and the crowds were causing trouble and may start dangerous rioting so that it would be easier to get rid of Jesus to avoid riots, or it could be that Pilate wanted to be a popular leader, so when the people asked for Jesus to be hung on the cross he agreed.
  2. Jesus is very calm and doesn’t struggle or argue. How do you know he is calm?
    -He shows calmness by comforting women on the way to the cross, reassuring the criminal on the cross, and by forgiving those who nail him to the cross.
  3. Why do you think Jesus is calm?
    -He trusts in God. He knows this is part of God’s plan. He is teaching his disciples by showing self-control and forgiveness because he knows they will help spread God’s love.
  4. Why does the Roman officer change his mind about Jesus?
    -Perhaps he saw Jesus’ strength, serenity, and calmness, and knew that he must get it from a powerful source (God).

Suggestion: You may wish to give the children a sticker or some memento to paste in their journal as a reminder of the story or activity.

Prompts for journal writing:
Readers: give children strips of paper with the events (those listed in scripture section previously) and ask them to glue them in the correct order onto their sheet of paper.
Non-readers: draw a picture of Jesus showing forgiveness.

Prayer: Ask for prayer requests. Lead a prayer. Suggestions include: thanking God for sending Jesus and forgiving our sins. Asking for help in being forgiving and obedient to God like Jesus was. Amen

Tidy and Dismissal:
Ask children to help tidy up. Put costumes back into box on the stage.


  • Luke 23
  • Notes supplied by Susan Mazzara for curriculum writers’ Bible study Jan. 2002
  • Ritz, Randy L. Act It Out! Cincinnati, Ohio: The Standard Publishing Company, 1999.


A lesson written by Catherine from: Kirk of Kildaire Presbyterian Church
Cary, NC
A representative of reformatted this post to improve readability.


Script 1 - Pilate and Herod Question Jesus
Actors: Pilate, Herod, soldiers, Jesus

The council takes Jesus to see Pilate. (FREEZE) They are angry with him and say he was trying to start riots and claiming to be the Messiah. Pilate asks Jesus “ Are you the King of the Jews.” “Those are your words,” says Jesus. Pilate tells the council that he doesn’t find Jesus guilty (FREEZE), but they say Jesus has been causing trouble all over the place even in Galilee. Pilate says, “If he is from Galilee then send him to Herod.”

Herod asks Jesus a lot of questions, but Jesus doesn’t answer. The priests and teachers say Jesus broke the law. Then Herod and his soldiers make fun of Jesus (FREEZE) and send him back to Pilate. Pilate calls together the leaders and people and says that Herod didn’t find him guilty either. Pilate says, “He doesn’t deserve to die, maybe we should beat him and send him away.”

The crowd disagrees, they yell “Kill Jesus! Kill Jesus!” Pilate says again, “He isn’t guilty.” The crowd keeps shouting “Nail him to a cross!” They keep shouting as loud as they can. Finally, Pilate gives Jesus to the angry crowd. (FREEZE)

Script 2 - Jesus is Nailed to a Cross
Actors: Jesus, Simon, crowd, two criminals, soldiers

As Jesus is being led away some soldiers grab hold of a man named Simon. They put the heavy cross on him and make him carry it behind Jesus. (FREEZE) A large crowd is following Jesus. In the crowd a lot of women are crying and weeping. (FREEZE) Jesus says to the women, “Don’t cry for me.” Finally they arrive at a rocky place called “The Skull.”

Soldiers nail Jesus to a cross. (FREEZE) He cries out, “Father, forgive these people. They don’t know what they’re doing.” While Jesus is on the cross the soldiers play dice to see who wins his clothes. (FREEZE) They tease him by saying, “If you are a king then save yourself.”

One of the criminals felt sorry for Jesus because Jesus hadn’t done anything wrong. The criminal says, “Remember me when you come into power.” Jesus replies, “I promise that today you will be with me in heaven.”

Script 3 - Death of Jesus
Actors: Jesus, Roman officer, Pilate, Joseph, women

Around noon the sun stops shining. Jesus shouts, “Father I put myself in your hands.” Then he dies. (FREEZE) When the roman officer saw what had happened he praised God. The officer says, “Jesus must really have been a good man.”

The crowd is sad when Jesus dies. They walk home sadly. (FREEZE) A man named Joseph wants to help bury Jesus. Joseph goes to Pilate and asks for Jesus’ body. Then he takes the body down from the cross and wraps it in cloth. (FREEZE)

He puts Jesus’ body in a rock tomb. (FREEZE) The women who had come with Jesus watch how his body is placed in the tomb.

Last edited by Luanne Payne

Holy Week: Jesus' arrest and trials

Handle-Bag Puppet Workshop


Summary of Lesson Activities:

Students will use handle-bag puppets to enact a modern story of persecution, similar to Jesus’ arrest and trial.

Scripture Reference:

Luke 22:66 - 23:25 (the trials before the council, Herod, and Pilate)

Key Bible Verse:

“He came to help, to put the world right again.” John 3:17b (The Message)

Workshop Objectives – participants will:

  • Be able to retell the events of Holy Week
  • Understand the importance of the events of Holy Week; specifically, that it is through Jesus’ death and resurrection that our sins are forgiven.
  • Know that even though he was accused of doing wrong, Jesus was innocent.
  • Help the children better understand the social injustices that led to Jesus’ death on the cross.

Leader Preparation:

  • Read the scripture for this lesson.
  • Read and reflect on the overview material provided for this lesson.
  • Gather the materials.
  • Write these words on the easel: arrest, trial, guilty, innocent
  • Write the key Bible verse on the easel.

Materials List:

  • Easel with appropriate marker
  • Handle-bag puppets; 3 for the main characters & several puppets for the crowd (or use whatever sort of puppets you have on hand)
  • A puppet stage
  • Script entitled “The Crowd” from Kirk of Kildaire (attached)
  • A ten-dollar bill (play money)

Lesson Plan


Greet your students warmly, introducing yourself and any other adults.

Say: Welcome to the puppet workshop. In this workshop, we use puppets that are very easy to use. We are learning (continuing to learn) about the story of Holy Week. For today, I want you to think for a minute about these words (refer to the easel).
Ask: What do these words mean? (Discuss the meanings of the words.)

  • Arrest – to capture and take into custody by an authority of the law
  • Trial – the formal examination of an accused person before a judge or jury
  • Guilty – responsible for committing a crime or an act of evil which deserves punishment
  • Innocent – not guilty of a crime; blameless; free of sin and/or guilt

Say: Remember these words as we work with the puppets and our Holy Week story.

Ask: Where in the Bible would we find the story of Holy Week? (in all four gospels of the New Testament – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John)

Say: We are going to look at the part of Holy Week that shows us the arrest and trial of Jesus. We’ll look in the Bible for the trial scenes.
Do: Distribute Bibles. Have them find Luke, chapter 22, verse 66.

Say: You could say that Jesus was actually in three separate trials.
Review the meaning of the word “trial.” (Refer to the easel).

Say: The first trial was before the Jewish court called the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin consisted of 70 men. The president of the Sanhedrin was the high priest, Caiaphas.

Ask students to read Luke 22:66-71.

Say: Jesus told this court that he was God. Look at verse 70. Interestingly, Jesus used the same words that God told Moses at the burning bush – "I AM."

Ask: Do you think that this court gave Jesus a fair trial? (allow all answers)

Say: The Sanhedrin had certain laws that they broke. For instance, no one could be arrested at night, they were to consider each trial for two or three days, and the accused person could not be questioned without someone to defend them.
Ask: Do you think that this court gave Jesus a fair trial? (no)

Say: The Sanhedrin was a powerful court but they couldn’t say that someone could be crucified—only the Roman governor could do that.
Ask: Who was the Roman governor? (Pilate)
Say: So a whole crowd of chief priests took Jesus to Pilate. This was Jesus’ second trial.

Have students read Luke 23:1-7.

Say: Pilate sent Jesus to Herod because Herod ruled over Galilee where Jesus was from. We can say that this was Jesus’ third trial. Herod questioned Jesus but Jesus didn’t say anything. The whole time, the crowd of chief priests was standing there accusing Jesus. Herod sent Jesus back to Pilate.

Have students read Luke 23:13-25.

Ask: Did Pilate or Herod think that Jesus was guilty of a crime? (no)
Did either of them say that Jesus should be put to death? (no)
Who, then, determined that Jesus should be crucified? (allow all answers)

Say: Pilate turned Jesus over to the crowd. They insisted that Barabbas be released. Pilate gave in to the crowd’s demands and sentenced Jesus to die. Jesus was innocent. This part of the story shows the power of mob mentality.

Explore the Bible story's meaning with puppets

Let’s act out another story about mob mentality using puppets. We can do the puppet show more than once, so that some can be in the audience then we’ll switch.

Explain how to use the puppets:

FUMC.handle.bag.puppetShow the students one of the handle-bag puppets.
Say: We can have lots of fun with these puppets but we need to treat them gently. Like all church property, we will be respectful and careful in our use of the puppets.

Show the kids how the “bag” or body, slips off the rod or handle. Show them how you hold the rod with one hand. Now slip the handle through the top of the bag. Show them how one hand is on the handle and the other hand is in the far corner of the bag – it becomes the “hand” of the puppet. Demonstrate how the puppet can wave, cover their puppet mouth to cough, and pick up something.

Assign parts or have students choose which puppet they want to be.
Puppets needed:
• 3 main character puppets; have 3 students be the crowd.

Enact the story using puppets: Use the script entitled “The Crowd”. Some coaching may be needed for the kids playing the part of the crowd (see script notes).
Perform the show a couple of times, changing parts each time.


Ask: Think about this puppet play we just acted out and the story of Jesus’ arrest and trial. How are the two stories alike? (they both have people who are unfairly accused and judged, and they both have crowds that seem to control the outcome of the story)

Ask: How are they different? (Marcus defended himself a little but Jesus said nothing in his defense)
Why do you think Jesus didn’t defend himself? (Jesus was being obedient to God—just as he was in the Garden. Jesus knew that he was following God’s plan, even though it seemed impossible to follow. “Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Matt. 26:39)

Say: We said this puppet skit would show mob mentality. Think about the crowd in both stories.
Ask: Do you suppose there were people in both stories who thought Marcus and Jesus were being unfairly accused?
Why do you think these people didn’t speak up in support of Marcus and Jesus?
[These questions are trying to lead the kids to realize that people in the crowd were probably afraid to speak against the majority—afraid that they would be punished or hurt as well.]

Say: We call this "mob mentality" because it is almost as if the mob—the crowd—has one mind.
Ask: How do you think the people who disagreed with the crowd but were afraid to say so, felt when they saw Marcus and Jesus being punished unfairly? (they may have wished they had spoken up and tried to stop this unfairness, this injustice)
What might happen if we speak up in a hard situation and go against the crowd?

Say: We might be able to change the situation positively for example, being kind to someone the other kids don’t like, or taking a stand against discrimination (Martin Luther King, Jr.). This is part of being a disciple of Jesus; it is why Jesus said that he was the way, the truth, and the light. It is why we care for our neighbors as we care for ourselves.

Say: For each Bible story we study we try to learn a Bible verse. Let’s say our verse together.

Say the verse together. (Refer to easel.) “He came to help, to put the world right again.” John 3:17b.

Close with prayer.


  • Hunter, Kurt. Puppets, Kids, and Christian Education. Augsburg Fortress, 2001. See this book for handle-bag puppet construction and manipulation information; more information at Kurt's website.
  • Faith Quest Lesson Sets at Kirk of Kildaire Presbyterian Church. “Trial and Crucifixion: Praising Puppets.” 2002. (The attached "The Crowd" puppet script is from this website)
  • Haidle, Helen. Journey to the Cross. Zonderkidz, 2001. (ISBN 0-310-70023-X)

A lesson written by Debbie Houghton from First UMC, Ann Arbor, MI

A representative of reformatted this post to improve readability.


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  • FUMC.handle.bag.puppets
  • FUMC.handle.bag.puppet, with the crowd puppet
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