Drama, Puppet, and Storytelling Lessons, Ideas, Activities, and Resources for the Trial and Crucifixion.

Post your Sunday School drama, puppet, and storytelling lessons, ideas, activities, and resources for the Trial and Crucifixion.

  • Please include a scripture reference, supply lists, sources, suggested age range. age modification, etc. 
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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.

Bible lessons for the Trial and Crucifixion -with Drama, puppets, scripts, skits, acting, newsroom, etc.

Original Post

Easter – Trial and Crucifixion
Drama and Puppetry Workshop

Summary of Lesson Activities:

Uses a "picture it" drama activity. 

Scripture Reference:

Mark 14:43-15:47


Leader Preparation:

  • Review the Background Information, Behavioral Covenant, Teaching Tips and Lesson plan.
  • 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


General Tips for Drama Facilitators

You may wish to organize costumes or puppets ahead of time to cut down on a flurry of activity and possible hurt feelings. Have props ready ahead of time. This is especially important for the younger children. The older children often are very creative with props and costumes.
You will want to limit the amount of time the children are allowed to dress-up. (They can easily spend the entire class time selecting costumes!)
Be sure that all children are involved in some way. Some children are intimidated by the prospect of being on a stage. Offer them alternative roles as well as the children who do not have main parts. They can always be “sound effects” or “crowds” or stagehands to help change scenery, or video camera operators (for the older children). Remember as well that children can draw the backdrop for the drama on the blackboard or videotape the plays (older children).
To eliminate competition, you may wish to place the names of characters in a hat and have children choose their parts.
Be sure to explain the activity to the children and ask for questions to be sure you are clear.
Even though videotaping the activities may seem unnecessary, videotaping seems to encourage better behavior from the children.
Have fun and make this fun for the children! 

Materials List:

  • Props
  • Costumes
  • Digital Camera
  • Computer
  • Printer


Time Guidelines:

  • Introductions/Opening Prayer: 5 minutes
  • Bible Study/Create Storybook: 35 minutes
  • Discussion/Review 10 minutes
  • Reflection/Closing Prayer: 10 minutes


Lesson Plan

Opening:
Gather the children together in the center of the room with their Bibles. Welcome the children and introduce yourself. Make sure you are wearing your name tag and that the children have picked up their nametags from Fast Pass. Always begin each class with introductions. Remember that workshop leaders rotate often and the children may not know you. Tell the children that today you will be creating pictures that tell the story of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion. The pictures will be put together to create a storybook.

Opening Prayer: Pray something like this: “Dear God, You are amazing and wonderful and we praise you. Thank you for this day and for all the people who are here today. Help us to open our hearts and minds to your Word as we study here today.” Amen

Dig:

Bible Study: Mark 14:43-15:47, Little Kids’ Adventure Bible - pages 348-355

Each workshop begins with the Bible story. One of our primary goals is to improve the children’s Bible literacy! If children did not bring their Bibles from home, use the classroom Bibles. Shepherds should help the children locate the stories. Use the handout “Helping Children Learn to Use their Bibles” and the Background Information to help you introduce the story.

Important Notes:
**Remember, that as the rotation progresses, the children will become more familiar with the story. When this happens, allow the children to tell you what they know. The children should still locate the story in their Bibles every week. Use the bold headings in their Bibles to guide your discussion. You may want to review some of the Bible notes as well. Then you can fill in any missing information and add additional details using the Background Information to help you. One of greatest advantages of this model is that children who come regularly learn the story in great depth.

Introduce the Story: We are going to do our Bible study in a little different way today. We are going to make “still pictures” that tell the story as we learn about it.

Ask: Where would we find a story about Jesus’ life and death? (gospels in the New Testament). Today’s story is found in all four gospels. What are the gospels? (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – first four books of the New Testament)

Say: The story of Jesus’ death and resurrection is found in all four gospels, but we are going to concentrate on the account from the gospel of Mark. Let’s find the story in our Bibles now. (Have 3-6 grade children locate Mark 14:43 – 15:47, 1-2 Grade children page 348 - 355. Have the children briefly look through the pages and note the headings on the pages of the story – tell them these are the main parts you will discuss as we create our storybook)

Say: This rotation we are studying about the trial and crucifixion of Jesus. This story helps us understand the reason Jesus was born, lived and died. Our memory verse explains it perfectly. Let’s find our memory verse now…

Memory Verse: Each rotation we ask the children to memorize one scripture verse. Have the children locate the verse in their Bibles and review it with them at this time.

Drama Activity: Picture It – Trial and Crucifixion of Christ.

Storybooks are attached for each grade level. (These were made ahead of time using a computer and print-shop type program. The story was divided into several sections with a brief description underneath and room to place a photograph of the children as they “acted out” the scene.)
We will study our Bible story by forming still-life scenes from the Trial and Crucifixion of Christ.
Photograph the “still pictures” using the class digital camera. Print pictures and attach on the appropriate page to books after class. Pages of book will be posted on walls.
Stories can be read by everyone!

Supplies/Preparation:
Have props and costumes ready for the younger children.Older children will enjoy this exercise more if they are allowed to determine the props they will use.
Digital Camera. You will probably want the shepherd to be photographer.
Computer and printer
Post the story pages on the wall (you can do this ahead of time or do it as part of the activity). This will help the children visualize the activity.
Use your imagination. Remember, a microphone or a recorder or a baton can be used to represent a sword, Children waving the glitter wands can represent a campfire.

Characters Needed:
Jesus (keep Jesus consistent throughout the pictures).
Different characters for each scene.

Grades 1 & 2 – Storybook attached
Grades 3 & 4 – Storybook attached
Grades 5 & 6 – Storybook attached
*******
See attached “storybook” for the class work. Discuss each page of the storybook as you put it onto the wall. Use the information in the Study Guide that follows to help you with discussion. Discussion of scripture will be more in depth with the older children and as the weeks of the rotation progress.

The older children will also be able to stage their illustrations, select props, and have lots of input. You will need to give much more direction to the younger children.

Get creative!
∑ For the older children, you may want to divide the class and have half of the class acting as stage hands setting up scenes for the other half, the “models.” Jesus is the only model who will need to be consistent for the entire story.
∑ For the “Jesus is nailed to the cross” picture, you could have a cross drawn onto the chalkboard, have “Jesus” stand on a chair in front of the chalk cross and photograph above the chair. Or, there use a cross fashioned from trees.

Bible Study Guide:
Use this study guide and the Bible notes to help you discuss the story as you create the various pages of the Storybook. The Background Information provides additional discussion material.

Jesus is Taken to the Sanhedrin (Grades 1-2: page 348, Grades 3-6: Mark 14:53)
The soldiers and crowd took Jesus away to the house of Caiaphas, the high priest and president of the Sanhedrin. Do you know what the Sanhedrin is?

Locate and read the Did you Know Bible note (Grades 1-2: page 348, Grades 3-6: page 1159): What was the Sanhedrin?

The Sanhedrin was a very powerful Jewish court of religious leaders. They didn’t like Jesus and what he had been teaching. They had been looking for a way to get rid of Jesus since Lazarus was raised from the dead. They were more interested in following the rules that they made up, rather than really doing what God wanted. The Sanhedrin was very powerful, but the Romans were really in charge. As long as the Sanhedrin kept things peaceful and quiet, the Romans let them do their own thing. Caiaphas was the high priest and the president of the Sanhedrin. He was afraid that Jesus was getting people too riled up – all this talk about new Kings and all. Maybe the people would even riot. If that happened, the Romans would take over and take away the Sanhedrin’s power. Caiaphas thought it would be better for Jesus to die, since he was just one man. Then everything would get back to normal.

Grades 3-6 only: People in Bible Times: "Caiaphas" (page 1263)
Now the Sanhedrin was known throughout the world for their just laws. But this night, they broke many of their own laws! (See Background Material for list of broken laws.)

Caiaphas asked Jesus a lot of questions. Lots of people told lies about Jesus and what he had been doing. But Jesus didn’t answer any of Caiaphas’ questions. Finally, Caiaphas asked Jesus, “Are you the Christ? Are you the Son of God?” Jesus said, “I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of God.” This made Caiaphas so angry that he tore his clothes. This is blasphemy! This man is claiming to be God, himself. He must die!”

Locate and read the People in Bible Times note: "Jesus" (Grades 1-2: page 289, Grades 3-6: page 1176). Jesus called himself the Son of God and the Son of Man. This means that Jesus is both God and human.

The Sanhedrin was furious! They spit on Jesus and hit him. They found Jesus guilty and said that he must die. But, remember, the Sanhedrin was very powerful, but they didn’t have the power to put anyone to death.

Peter Says He Does Not Know Jesus (Grades 1-2: page 349, Grades 3-6: page 1187)
Meanwhile Peter, Jesus’ disciple, was downstairs in the courtyard. A woman saw Peter and recognized him as one of Jesus’ followers. But Peter was afraid. He said three times that he didn’t know Jesus. Just as he said it the last time, a rooster crowed. Jesus had told Peter that he would deny him three times before the rooster crowed. Peter felt terrible and cried and cried.

"Jesus Goes Before Pilate" (Grades 1-2: page 350, Grades 3-6: page 1187)
Early the next morning, the priests took Jesus to Pilate, the Roman governor. The Sanhedrin could arrest people and punish them, but only the Roman governor could sentence someone to be killed. They wanted Jesus put to death.

Read the People in Bible Times Note: "Pontius Pilate" (Grades 1-2: page 351, Grades 3-6: page 1160)

Pilate asked Jesus lots of questions too. He thought Jesus was innocent. He wanted the Sanhedrin to deal with Jesus on its own. But the Sanhedrin wanted Jesus killed and, remember, they could not do that. They kept after Pilate. Pilate offered to let Jesus go free, since the Romans always let a Jewish prisoner go free during Passover. But the priests and crowd asked Pilate to release a criminal named Barabbas instead. They wanted Jesus to die. The crowd screamed, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Finally Pilate gave in. He ordered Jesus whipped and crucified.

Read the Life in Bible Times note: "Flogging" (Grades 1-2: page 352, “Whipping” Grades 3-6: page 1188)

"The Soldiers Make Fun of Jesus" (Grades 3-6: page 1188)
After Jesus was whipped, the soldiers made fun of him. First they put a purple robe on Jesus. Purple is the color of royalty. They made a crown out of thorny branches and pushed it down on Jesus’ head. They made fun of him, laughing and bowing down to him and mocking him by calling him “King of the Jews.” They beat him with sticks and spit on him. Then they took him away to be crucified.

Read the Life in Bible Times note: "The Cross" (Grades 1-2: pages 352-353, Grades 3-6: page 1232).

Grades 3-6 can also read People in Bible Times: "Simon" (page 1188) Explain that Simon would have carried just the horizontal cross piece of Jesus’ cross, not the entire cross as we typically see in pictures. The older children will probably be interested in more of the details of crucifixions. Use the background information to discuss with them.

"Jesus is Nailed to a Cross" (Grades 1-2: page 352, Grades 3-6: page 1188)
They took Jesus away to the place called Golgotha. It means “the skull.” They nailed his wrists and feet to the cross and left him there to die. The soldiers stood guard and made fun of Jesus. They put a sign above his head that read, “This is the King of the Jews.” They cast lots to see who would get to keep Jesus’ robe. (this is kind of like playing a game with dice) Two criminals were crucified on both sides of Jesus. One of them asked Jesus to remember him in heaven. Jesus promised that the man would be in heaven with Jesus that very day.

"Jesus Dies" (Grades 1-2: page 354, Grades 3-6: page 1189) (there is good background information in Journey to the Cross about this section - you might want to have it out for the children to see)
At noon the sky turned dark. It lasted until 3:00. One of the bystanders offered Jesus a sponge soaked with wine vinegar to drink. At 3:00 Jesus cried out, took his last breath and died. Immediately the earth shook and the curtain in the Temple tore from top to bottom. The Roman commander standing in front of Jesus heard Jesus and saw what happened. He said, “This man was surely the Son of God!”

"Jesus is Buried" (Grades 1-2: page 354, Grades 3-6: page 1189)
Joseph of Arimathea, a secret disciple of Jesus, went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Pilate was surprised to hear that Jesus was already dead. Sometimes it took days for people who were crucified to die. Pilate checked with the Roman commander to make sure Jesus was really dead. Then he let Joseph take Jesus’ body. Joseph wrapped Jesus’ body in linen and put him in a new tomb.

Grades 3-6: People in Bible Times: "Joseph of Arimathea" (page 1189)

Read the Life in Bible Times note: "Burial" (Grades 1-2: page 355, Grades 3-6: page 1265). (This should be review for our children as we have discussed Jewish burial customs in great length during the Jairus’ Daughter rotation and the Raising of Lazarus rotation)

Read the Life in Bible Times note: "Jesus’ Tomb" (Grades 1-2: page 356, Grades 3-6: page 1162).
Jesus’ friends, disciples and family watched all of this. What do you think they were thinking when they saw that Jesus had really died? How do you think they were feeling? How would you have felt if you had watched Jesus die and seen him buried?

But we know that this is not the end of the story… three days later, what happened? We know that Jesus rose from the dead and is alive today! And that is what we celebrate at Easter!

Discussion Questions:
For questions, refer to the Background Information and the section "Meaning of the Cross - FAQs".

Reflection:

The last 10 minutes should be reserved for Journal Reflection time. This is an opportunity for processing and reflection about what the children have learned. Ask the shepherds to pass out the journals and pencils/pens and the journal question sticker for the day. Workshop leaders and shepherds should sit down with children in small groups to facilitate discussion and writing in Faith Journals. Memory verse stickers are also included for each lesson. Children may copy the memory verse and illustrate it as an alternative to journal questions.

Journal Questions:
Grades 1-2: Has anyone ever lied about you? Draw a picture of that or write a word about how that made you feel.
Grades 3-4: Why do you think people lied about Jesus? Draw a picture of the trial or discuss how it feels when someone lies about you.
Grades 5-6: Do you think it was easy for Jesus to follow his father’s will and die on the cross? Why or why not?

Extra Activities:
If you still have extra time, review the memory verse by writing it out on the blackboard. Review the verse with the children, then one by one, erase the words until the children can recite the verse entirely from memory. Don’t forget the scripture reference! OR use the Rotation music CD to sing and review the Memory verse.

Prayer: Gather the children together. Review with them one word or concept that they learned during today’s session. (Resurrection, Sanhedrin, Peter’s Denial, Love are some suggestions) Encourage children to come back next week for another workshop, and to invite their friends, especially their friends who do not belong to a church. Remind them to bring their Bibles. Ask for prayer requests and pray together. You may ask one of the children to say the closing prayer, or you may pray something like this, Dear Lord, It makes us sad that people lied about Jesus and that people wanted to hurt Jesus. Please help us to love one another like you love us. In Christ’s name.



Drama Story Book text
Print onto paper or cardstock. Glue children's pictures on the appropriate page.

(Title Page)
The Trial and Crucifixion of Christ

(Page 1)
After the last supper, Jesus and his disciples went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and asked them to pray with him, but they fell asleep three times. Jesus woke them up and told them it was time to go.

While Jesus was still speaking, Judas came with a crowd and betrayed Jesus by kissing him. That’s how the soldiers knew who Jesus was. The crowd carried swords and clubs.

(Page 2)
The crowd of soldiers took Jesus to the high priest, the president of the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin was the highest Jewish court. They were very powerful. The chief priest’s name was Caiaphas. Many people told lies about Jesus to Caiaphas.

Caiaphas asked Jesus, “Are you the Christ, the Son of God?”
Jesus said, “I am.”
This made Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin very angry. Jesus was saying that he was God. People were put to death for this! Caiphas and the other religious leaders wanted Jesus to die.

(Page 3)
While Jesus was with the Sanhedrin, Peter was below in the courtyard. Three different times Peter was asked if he was a friend of Jesus. Peter was afraid, so he denied that he knew Jesus all three times.

Suddenly, a rooster crowed. Jesus had told Peter that he would deny him three times before the rooster crowed. When Peter realized what he had done, he was very sorry. Peter was heartbroken. He cried and cried!

(Page 4)
The next day the chief priests took Jesus to see Pilate, the Roman governor. Pilate was the one who could order Jesus put to death. He asked lots of questions, but he knew that Jesus was innocent. It was the custom to let a prisoner go free during the Passover feast. Pilate offered to let Jesus go, but the crowds shouted, “Crucify him, crucify him!” And so, Pilate let a different prisoner, Barabbas, go free. He sent Jesus to be crucified.

(Page 5)
The soldiers put a purple robe on Jesus like a king would wear and a crown of thorns on his head. They mocked him and called out, “Hail King of the Jews!” They whipped Jesus and spit on him. A man named Simon of Cyrene was forced to carry the crossbeam of the cross. He carried it to the place where Jesus was to be crucified. This place was called Golgotha which means “Place of the Skull.” There they nailed Jesus to the cross. It was 9:00 a.m. Soldiers, priests and passers-by made fun of Jesus while he was on the cross. At noon the sky became black. Jesus cried out to His Father in heaven and breathed his last breath. Then the Temple curtain tore in half and a Roman centurion standing guard said, “Truly, this mans was the Son of God!”

(page 6)
Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for Jesus’ body. He took Jesus and wrapped his body in burial cloths with spices and ointments. He laid Jesus in a new tomb in the rock. The guards rolled the huge stone across the entrance to the tomb and then sealed the tomb with the governor’s seal. The Roman soldiers stood outside the tomb guarding it to make sure that no one tried to steal Jesus’ body.

(Page 7)
On Sunday morning, the women and the disciples went to the tomb, the stone was rolled away and the tomb was empty! An angel told them, “He is not here. He is risen!”

Jesus was risen from the dead and is still alive today! That is the miracle of Easter!

(Back Cover page)
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him will never die but have eternal life.
John 3:16


A lesson written by Jaymie Derden from: State Street UMC
Bristol, VA 

This lesson created and copyrighted by State Street UMC, Bristol, VA, 2003. Permission granted for non-commercial, local church use, provided credit is give to the source. 

A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.

Drama Idea

 

Another idea moved here to consolidate topic...

Sally Carter

Last year we had a large tent in place that had previously been the whale in Jonah. We removed the fish & made a large rock with cardboard & duck tape to seal what had now became a tomb.
The kids assembled in a room separate from the tomb. Meanwhile one of our teenagers dressed in simple costume as Jesus & laid in front of the tomb. Another teenage girl dressed in costume as Mary Magdelin, entered the room with the kids & told them about her friend, teacher & mentor Jesus & the terrible thing that had happened to him. She talked about how she felt losing this special person & asked them to go to the tomb to prepare his body, explaining the burial customs of her people. I wrote a simple script for her, that she embelished upon, our goal being to help the kids understand her sorrow & love for him as a teacher & friend. She also told them she was frightened of the soldiers in the area & that they may all be arrested for going near his body.
We then took the kids into the tomb area, where they went through the motions of annointing him with oil, then rolled him in a sheet, rolled him into the tomb & pushed the rock in front. We turned off the lights & pulled the shades so the room was dim.
We returned to the first room & discussed what it was like to lose someone you love. Some kids mentioned pets, grandparents, etc. We discussed what those departed ones left behind & how God can help us cope with missing them, etc.
We then returned to the tomb & Jesus was gone! All the lights were on & the room was bright & sunny. This brought us to the discussion to the ressurrection & why he died.
We crawled into the tomb & did the following activity: we discussed our sins. Depending on the age group, it was everyting from taking your siblings's toys to murder. Using a craft clear plastic film that dissolves in water, we wrote down things we'd like to be forgiven for. Then each child dipped the small piece of plastic in their own bowl of water & watched it dissolve, as Jesus forgave them.
It was a great success & worked well for kids of all ages.

The Crucifixion

Drama Workshop


Summary of Lesson Activities:

Children will re-enacting the Crucifixion Scene from Mark 15.

Scripture Reference:

Mark 15

Lesson Objective(s):
In this workshop, the learners will better understand the story of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus by feeling as if they could have been a part of the crowd.


OPTIONS: (written by Exchange volunteer)

You could have a group of four to six teens or adults put on the following drama. Or you could have the students pair up with the teen/adult actor to be the character and act out their actions together. If your class size is bigger, do the drama TWICE! It's not long.

This drama concept takes place in a DARK room where each character wears a dark costume, not a period costume. Light on action is provided by movable spotlight. Each actor gets a penlight to read their script with. Practice this, and adapt to the age of your students and amount of motion you want to put into the drama. Remember to pause so that action can take place.

Black Light / Glow in the Dark Alternative:
You can have readers read, and actors act with regular flashlights, or you can have give glow sticks and necklaces to make actors' motions glow. To do this, give the actors long sleeve black tshirts, and just before the lights go out, wrap them with glow in the dark necklaces, bracelets and give them glow sticks for their hands. Add a blacklight to make the glowing bright. The students will move with the narration and freeze into tableaus. You might have older students do this first to show others how it is to be done. Practice these in the light before hand! Let them take the glowsticks home.


Leader Preparation:

  • Review the scripture
  • Gather the materials
  • Make a copy of Mark 15 from the Bible. Highlight for the narrator the exact scriptures that are to be read. This will depend upon the comfort of your actors as to how much will actually be spoken. However, the more dialog that occurs, the more real it becomes to the children.


Materials List:

  • A dark room 
  • A pen light for the narrator
  • A stick with a cloth wrapped around the top
  • A spotlight or flashlight to shine on actors
  • 4 or 5 actors (adults) wearing solid black clothing--some will need to do only sound effects, but others will need to act also (Jesus and Pilate are the only specific actors. Everyone else can interchange positions as needed. That is the reasoning behind wearing all black clothing); a large wooden cross (optional) and a crown of thorns (optional), materials for sound effects--hammer and nails with a wooden board, something to make whipping sounds (snapping a rolled up towel works great), an old sheet for ripping.


Lesson Plan

Opening:

Greet the children and Introduce yourself.

Open with a prayer.

Dig:

Lesson Plan:

  1. Have all of the actors in the room before the children arrive. It is important that they see them in the room before the passion reading so that they are not afraid when the room becomes dark. The teacher should then explain that they will be seeing and hearing scriptures from the Bible about the trials and crucifixion of Jesus. If there is anything that they do not understand, then there will be time at the end of the class for discussion.
  2. Begin the passion story. See script below.
  3. Following the play, allow a few minutes for silence and reflection.
  4. Allow the children to discuss the play just seen. You may want to encourage discussion with the following questions:
  • What did you see here?
  • What did you like about the play? Why?
  • What did you dislike about the play? Why?
  • What, if anything, frightened you about the play?


End the class by reading the rest of the story in Mark 15. Begin with verse 40 and continue through verse 47 (the end of the chapter.)

Reflection:

Help the shepherd pass out the journals. Ask the children to answer:
What do you remember most vividly about the play you saw today?

Say a prayer of your own to close the workshop, or use the following:
Loving God, we thank you for the covenant and for the love you have for all of us during the trials in our lives. Give us strength to endure the bad times as well as the good times. Amen.

Dismissal:
Have the children help you tidy up the workshop space. Dismiss them with instructions about where they are to go.

Adjustments for younger/older children:
Younger children may feel overwhelmed or frightened by the darkness or the play itself. Reassure them that this is only make-believe. Be ready to sit with, or have the shepherd sit with, children that appear afraid.


A lesson written by Jan Marshall from: Brenthaven Cumberland Presbyterian
Brentwood, TN  

A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.


===THE PASSION PLAY SCRIPT==========

Have the narrator sit in one spot in the room to read. (The narrator doesn't necessarily have to be seen.) The actors that are doing the sound effects should be scattered about the room for a surround sound effect. The actors that are also performing should be near the front of the room for better mobility.

Suggestion for the reading; please feel free to change it to fit your group of actors. The narrator reads the following scriptures with pauses for reenactment or sound effects. (The pauses with sound effects can be powerful.)

Pilate and Jesus are at the front of the room. Shine a spotlight or flashlight on them as they begin their dialogue in verse 2. The readings proceed as follows (all readings come from Mark 15):

N(narrator): vs.1
A(actors): vs. 2-4
N: vs. 5-8
A: vs.9-14; for vs. 11, just have the crowd yell "release Barabbas"; in vs.13-14, all of the actors cry out "crucify him!"
N: vs. 15; as N reads, have Jesus leave Pilate and two other actors join him over to one side of the room. Take the spotlight off of Jesus and with it being dark in the room begin the sound effects of flogging. Silence. The narrator then finishes the verse with "and they handed him over to be crucified." Silence.
N: vs. 25; after this verse have two actors and Jesus near a wall. Have a sign hanging on the wall that reads, "THE KING OF THE JEWS ". When they are in place, turn on the spotlight. They should pretend to push a heavy cross into place. Then they begin to place Jesus upon it. Place one hand upon the pretend cross. Have one person pretend to hammer a nail into it while someone else in the back of the room is making the sound effects (hitting a nail with a hammer.) Do the same with the other hand and finally with the feet. Jesus should now be standing with both arms out and his legs crossed. Jesus should be standing up against the wall in front of the sign. (This will also help with his balance.)
N: vs. 27 and part of vs. 29, with the spotlight only on Jesus. Stop and let the actors finish with the insults coming from the darkness around the room, as if they are a part of the crowd.)
A: vs. 29b-32
N: vs. 33
A: vs. 34-36. With the spotlight still on Jesus, have someone offer a drink to Jesus on a stick while saying vs. 36.
N: vs. 37
N: vs. 38, with sound effects.

End the play with an actor coming forward and saying "Truly this man was God’s son!" (vs. 39). Then have darkness and silence.

At this point, the actors and narrator are free to leave the room, or stay for the discussion.

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)

Concepts:

  • 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


Opening:

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.” 

Dig:

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


Application:

  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.


Reflection:

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).


Journal:
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.

Closing:
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.


References:

  • 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 Rotation.org 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.

Trial and Crucifixion

Drama Workshop

Summary of Lesson Activities:

A Courtroom Drama Workshop Sketch illustrating WHY and HOW Jesus died for our sins.

Scripture Reference:

Luke 25: 35-54; Matthew 27; Romans 5: 6-11; John 1:29; John 3:16

Lesson Objectives:

  • Students will understand that God knows we don’t always do what is right.
  • Students will realize that Jesus sacrificed his life to show us that our sins do not separate us from the love of God. God can help us overcome our sins.
  • Students will consider the "courtroom" metaphor of atonement... Jesus taking our sentence upon himself, and declaring us "forgiven", and what a proper response to that is.

Some caution, insight and theology:

Exchange reviewers of the original post here really liked the idea of demonstrating the concept of the Atonement via a courtroom drama. But it's important to get the courtroom action/players right because they convey a powerful visual and message.

The metaphor of Jesus in a courtroom setting us free from God's punishment is a familiar one with a long history. It is also one that must be carefully thought through so that it does not give the wrong impression about the Godhead, or nature of Christ's Atonement. DONE RIGHT this can be a powerful teaching tool, and we especially want to encourage you to set up a courtroom, including bringing in the prisoners bound (a very biblical image).

For example, in a heavenly courtroom drama, Jesus would NOT stand between us and God, -"taking the punishment from God intended for us" because Jesus IS God. Rather than place God behind the behind and Jesus in front, the appropriate metaphor would be God coming out from behind the bench, putting on his "Jesus robe" and forgiving the sinner. (That visual alone will do more to help teach the Trinity than all these words here!)

About Atonement:
Jesus' sacrifice was a symbolic act within a Jewish culture that had a deeply ingrained understanding of the significance of "blood sacrifice" and "paying for one's sins". They are useful images to explain the mystery of Atonement, but not the only ones in the Bible. It is good to teach them, but also to get them right as you re-enact Jesus paying the debts of the defendants.

Blood or Transactional Atonement, ie, "Jesus paid for our sins with his blood" --this is complicated language and concept for children. In the Old Testament, death wasn't considered natural, it was the "wages of sin". Sins were thought of like dirt, --sins made us less than pure and worthy before God. Jews sacrificed in the Temple to ritually clean away their sins and make themselves acceptable before God. But our sin was so great, ...our debt to God was piled so high, that no sacrifice could restore us to God. Only God could pay such a debt. And that's what Jesus did on the cross in a way that was understandable to people in his time and faith. It is important to note that Jesus pretty much rejected the Temple/Blood "ritually unclean" precepts of the Jewish authorities, and indeed, there are many stories in the Gospel about Jesus setting aside purity laws for the sake of compassion. They were a YOKE on the people, and he broke that yoke. Like almost everything else he did, he gave NEW MEANING to the Old Testament concepts, including Atonement.

We also have the age-old question of the TIMING of Jesus' forgiveness. Did it happen once and for all as some scripture suggest? Or, does it require our confession? Many denominations and theologians have resolved it this way: God walks from around the bench after condemning our sin, and embraces the sinner, imploring them to accept the forgiveness which God offers. The "defendant" can reject that forgiveness, but then God has a choice... to withdraw it, or continue to offer it both now and in the hereafter. Many Christians, this one included, believe it is an unconditional grace that is continually offered NOT because of the sinner, but because of the Love of God which knows no bounds, and can never be ultimately thwarted.

To put it another way: God will win.
In a verse, "every knee shall bow and every tongue confess."

Of course, this courtroom drama also raises the issue of "where do we go when we REJECT God's offer? Some churches opt for preaching "hell", whereas others opt for preaching an unfulfilled and lost life (which can certainly have hellish qualities to it). For our purposes with children, we should suggest that rejecting God leads us to a misguided life, --a "living hell" and leave the brimstone (if that's where you lean) for more developed minds and spirits. The defendants have a choice, and should CHOOSE LIFE and FAITH, but can also lead a life after the PAYMENT for their sins which is not pleasing to God, -a life which can end up unfulfilling, sad and even evil. So consider THAT in your lesson: where you go AFTER the debt has been paid is what Jesus is really watching for. That's where the work of Salvation really begins, which is probably what Paul was getting at when he said "work out your own salvation".

Thus, in the courtroom drama, WHERE YOU GO AFTER the forgiveness is offered, is a great teachable moment. Suggestion: Have the "unaccepting" defendants draw a "life consequences slip" out of a bowl which tells of some serious life consequences. Perhaps you can have several locations in the room marked and decorates as various living hells (addiction, life of crime, unfaithfulness in relationships, etc).

Now follow up on those living hells.... Have God come out from behind the bench and put on the Holy Spirit garb to go be with those people in the various places they have gone after their sins have been paid.


Leader Preparation:

  • Read through the Lesson Passages listed below.
  • Make up the following Note cards ahead of time for use in the courtroom:
    • Peter is accused of denying Jesus, saying he doesn’t know Jesus
    • Pilate is accused of following the crowd and sentencing an innocent Jesus to death.
    • Judas is accused of betraying Jesus, saying Jesus was lying when he was telling the truth
    • Criminal #1 is accused of teasing and making fun of Jesus on the cross.
    • (Insert name) is accused of stealing. They steal money. They steal happiness by being mean. They steal self-esteem by being a bully.
    • (Insert name) is accused of being a cheat. They cheat on tests. They cheat at games. They don't share with others. They give less to help than others do.
    • (Insert name) is accused of lying to parents. They also lie to themselves that they are good enough and don't need God. They lie to build themselves up before others.
    • (Insert name) is accused of speaking rudely in school classroom. They speak rudely to their parents, and teachers, and gossip abot others.
    • (Insert name) is accused of throwing pillows at a classmate. They strike at others in anger. They hit with their words. They hurt others with their actions.


Materials List:

  • Notecards
  • Bibles
  • Props
  • Costumes


Presentation


Opening:

Greet the children and introduce yourself. 

Open with a prayer.

Dig:


Introductory Discussion:


Sometimes we don’t always do what is right or what we have been told to do. Can you think of a time when you’ve done something that isn’t right?

  • Have you always told your parents the truth?
  • Have you never fought with a brother or sister, even if they started it?
  • Have you ever not done something after promising you would?
  • Have you ever forgotten to do one of your chores at home?
  • Have you ever crossed the road without looking both ways (even if you were only 2 years old)?

Sometimes the little "sin" and mistakes we make turn into bigger sins. We think it is okay to say something bad about someone, and end up spending our entire lives saying bad things about most people, --being negative and mean. This is why Jesus is concerned with the way we act in small things, because small sins can lead to big sins.

Demonstrate and Say:
"Imagine all your sins piling up between you and God. They build up a wall between you and God. Your sins make you blind to God in your life, DEAF to hearing God's word in your life, and dumb (stick paper in mouth as you say this) ...you can't speak words of comfort or wisdom to others." For the demonstration, STACKBLOCKS to make a wall. Name each block as a small or big sin as you build the wall. You can also demonstrate this as a GAP between two people, with a chasm in between. What can knock down the dividing wall or bridge the gap? Only God. Only Christ.

Demonstrate and Say:
"Sometimes we in the church and in the Bible describe those sins as "debts" that keep piling up. Everytime we do something wrong, we owe God, and eventually we owe God more than we can repay. In the days of Jesus, when you owed a great debt that you couldn't pay, you were thrown in JAIL. And if your sins were REALLY great, like saying bad things about God, then you could be EXECUTED." Demonstrate this by dropping coins in a clear glass jar labeled "We Owe God", and each time you drop in a coin, give it a name of a sin.

Some people in the story of Jesus had been watching and listening to Jesus for 3 years and decided Jesus was SINNING. Several of them decided that Jesus' sins were SO BIG, misleading the people about God, that he deserved to die. And they also feared he was lieing to the people, making them think HE was the Messiah. They were afraid that he would start a riot and bring the Roman Army down on the nation. So they decided to have him killed. Most importantly, they thought Jesus deserved to die. What they did not know, was that Jesus was going to turn the whole thing around on them. Instead of deserving to die because of HIS sins, Jesus was going to die for THEIR sins, to break down the dividing wall, the pile of sins that was keeping THEM away from truly following God.

In Jesus day, the pile of sins was SO HUGE, that they killed him because they didn't even recognize that he was God in their midst. They were so completely WRONG that only God could do something about it.

Bible Study:

Read the story of Jesus on the Cross from Luke 25: 35-54.
Notice that the shouters in the crowd thought maybe Jesus could save himself.
Notice that the one soldier recognized who Jesus was.

Then assign the following verses for children to find and read. They explain what Jesus was doing on the cross. After this study, you will re-enact a courtroom drama with various sinners coming forward, and using Romans 5:6-11 as your guide to deciding what to do with these sinners!

Matthew 20:28
"The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many".

John 1:29
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Romans 5: 6-11
6 When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. 7 Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. 8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. 9 And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation.

Romans 5: 10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. 11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.

The Courtroom:
Our Sins in God's Courtroom

Have the students act out a simple trial.

Have an ADULT HELP be the judge = Jesus/God. They will need a judge's robe and Jesus robe.

Choose one person to be the prosecutor (The Law) who will bring charges against the accused.
Choose people to be the accused.

Tell the accused that they are to pretend that they are really guilty of the sin they are being accused of.

BIND THEIR HANDS with CHAIN (lightweight lamp swag chain works and makes a good clanking noise)

Hold the index cards in your hand facing you. The accused draws one of the cards and hands it to the prosecutor. The prosecutor then tells the judge what the accused has done. Tell the students they must always address the judge by saying, “Your Honor.”

The judge asks the accused “Is this charge against you true?”

The accused answers, “Yes, it is true.”

Judge/God says: The punishment for the crime would ordinarily be chosen at this time. But this trial is similar to what happens every day before me. Your sins are an abomination! But I love you, and want you to by my child.

What do you have to say for yourself about your sins?

The Accused must now offer up a confession. The Judge can say "not good enough" and ask for more. (kids practicing confession!)

Judge/God: Your sins are too great, and you are indeed found GUILTY! .... but I want you to know that you are my child, and I will never abandon you. (God gets up, comes around the bench, puts on a Jesus robe and walks up to the Law and PAYS the debt to the Law. Then turns to the accused and takes off their chains, giving them an exhortation to live a forgiven life.

Next!

Reflection:
Close with a prayer and dismiss the children to their parents.


A lesson written by member Wendy. 

Originally posted by member Wendy and subsequently significantly revised by Exchange Volunteer Neil, who apologizes that it's a long lesson with a few rough edges, but powerful nonetheless! 

A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.

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