Events of Holy Week
Summary of Lesson Activity:
Hear the story of Holy Week and create a tableau (a still picture) of each portion of the story. (Click on the picture below to view a larger size.)
To see the collection of photos taken in this workshop visit here.
The entry into Jerusalem: Matthew 21:1-11
Jesus clears the Temple: Matthew 21:12-13
Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus: Matthew 26:14-16
Jesus washes the disciples feet: John 13:4-15
The Last Supper: Matthew 26:17-30
In the garden of Gethsemane: Matthew 26:36-46
Jesus arrested: Luke 22:47-51 and Matthew 26:55-56
Jesus’ trials: Luke 22:63 - 23:27
Jesus’ crucifixion and burial: Luke 23:32-56
Jesus’ resurrection: Matthew 28:1-10
“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.” John 3:16-17 (The Message)
After completing this Rotation, participants will be able to:
- Name that the stories are found in the New Testament. Identify the four Gospels and the meaning of the word “gospel.”
- Locate the story in one of the Gospels (for 3rd grade and up).
- Retell the key events of “Holy Week” in his/her own words, placing events in chronological order.
- Recognize that Jesus’ journey to the cross was a trip that Jesus made because of God’s love for all people.
- Explain why we celebrate Easter – that through Jesus’ death and resurrection we have been forgiven and can have a close relationship with God.
- Read the scripture for this lesson.
- Read and reflect on the overview material provided for this lesson.
- Gather the materials.
- Label the Popsicle sticks: Jesus, Judas, “SSS” (for Soldier/Salesperson/Servant)–write 2x, Disciple–write 5x, “CCC” (Crowd/Chief Priest/Customer) – write 5x. Have a couple of blank ones in case you need to add roles.
- On the easel, write the various roles leaving space to write student’s names.
- Post the Bible Timeline pictures on the wall in the correct sequence.
- Post the Key Bible Verse printout in a visible place in the classroom.
- When 3rd grade and up visits, lay out Bibles in a circle on the carpet.Decide where in the room to photograph each event. Place the appropriate props near each event (there are eight possible scenes):
- Entry into Jerusalem – palm branches, cloaks (extra costumes), donkey prop
- Clearing the Temple – a couple of cardboard boxes, fabric to cover, fake coins, baskets
- Judas agrees to betray Jesus – moneybag (Note: shoot this scene using the large piece of fabric hanging from the ceiling as a backdrop.)
- Jesus washes his disciples feet – low table, a basin, towel,
- Last Supper – low table, fake cup, pita bread
- Garden of Gethsemane – fake trees
- Betrayal and arrest – shields and swords
- Empty tomb – “tomb”
- Easel; appropriate maker
- Bibles; the leader's Adventure Bible
- Digital camera (and optional - a tripod)
- Costumes – one per student
- Popsicle sticks (at least 18); A pen or marker
- Set of “Bible Timeline Pictures”
- Masking tape or Sticky Tack
- Large print out of Key Bible Verse
- Photo album (blank or workshop leader can bring in one of own)
- Props: fake green branches, a couple of large cardboard boxes, fabric to cover boxes, fake coins, baskets, a large piece of opaque fabric hung from the ceiling to the floor, money bag, a basin, towel, low table, fabric to cover the low table, fake cup, pita bread, fake trees, shields, swords, tomb (just the entrance to the tomb was created by scrunching up black paper and stapling it to insulation board. In a similar manner, a stone was created.)
Greet your students warmly, welcoming them to the Photography Workshop. Introduce yourself and any other adults, including the shepherd and the photographer. Ask the Shepherd to take care of attendance/nametags while you start the lesson.
Do: Hold up your photo album.
Ask: Have any of you seen one of these before? Do you have one at home? Why do people have these anyway? (allow a few answers, if you bring a photo album from home, briefly talk a bit about it)
Say: Photo albums are a great way to remember people and events, because as you look through them, you are reminded of things you just may have forgotten about, but remembering them makes you really happy. You probably know that cameras were not around when Jesus was around, so today in this photography workshop you will be re-creating important events that happened during Holy Week and we will be taking pictures of you doing that. Then, later, you will be able to see a special Holy Week photo album (that will feature the pictures we take today) that will be posted on the bulletin board.
Ask: Before we start though, can anyone tell me what Holy Week is? (it is what we call the week before and including Easter Sunday).
Who can tell me an event that is a part of Holy Week? (accept a few replies)
Say: Holy Week is about a journey that Jesus made to the cross where he died. Ask: Why do you suppose Jesus took this journey to the cross; to death? Why didn’t he run in the other direction? (accept a few replies)
Say: Jesus took this journey to death on the cross to show us how much God loves us. Look at the first portion of our key Bible verse for this Rotation.
Do: Refer to the key verse poster and read the first sentence: “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his son.” Have everyone repeat that sentence.
Say: That, to me, is a game-changer! It’s life giving! Today we will explore this thought as we pretend to be in Jerusalem with Jesus, but before we dig in let’s begin our time together with prayer.
Ask for any prayer requests.
Say: We will use the Lord’s Prayer as the ending to our prayer time. A prayer suggestion: Dear God, Help us to hear the Easter story in a new way. Help us to remember why you brought your son to earth, and why he died. We rejoice that Jesus is alive! (End with the Lord’s Prayer) Amen.
Ask: Where would we find the story of the first Easter in the Bible? (in the NT)
What are the first four books of the New Testament called? (the Gospels)
What are the names of the four Gospels? (Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John)
Say: The word gospel means “good news.” The good news is that through Jesus, our sins are forgiven! This is the reason we celebrate Easter!
For 3rd grade and up:
Do: Make sure everyone has access to a Bible.
Say: Let’s find the New Testament. (Remind them of the quick way to find the New Testament: Opening the Bible in the middle lands you usually in Psalms. Taking just the back half and finding the middle of that, gets you to the beginning of NT).
Do: Have everyone find Matthew, chapter 21, verse 1.
Say: Many of the events of Holy Week are found in all four Gospels. Today we won’t be reading out of the Bible but I wanted you to know where to find the beginning of the story in one of the Gospels. Read this story at home!
Do: Have them look at the heading in the Bible, above Matthew 21:1. Ask someone to read the heading. (“The Triumphal Entry")
Say: The day we celebrate the entry into Jerusalem is referred as Palm Sunday, the first event we will be photographing. If you look here at this set of pictures on the wall (point out the Bible Pictures timeline), you will see all of the events that we will be re-creating in the order they happened.
For 1st and 2nd graders:
Say: The events of Holy Week are so important that we would find these stories in several books of the New Testament, including Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. If you look up at this set of pictures on the wall (point out the Bible Pictures timeline), you will see some of the important events that happened during Holy Week.
Say: This first picture, the entry into Jerusalem, Palm Sunday, shows the first event we will be photographing, and if we have time, we will be re-creating all of these events in the order they happened.
For all students: Say: So, let’s get started!
Determining Bible-time character roles
- Gather up all the labeled Popsicle sticks. If necessary, take out or add sticks so that you have a number equal to the number of students. (If needed, add CCC’s.)
- Take the Popsicle sticks in your hand with the written part hidden in your palm. Have students each draw a stick. Have the Shepherd note names next to characters listed on the easel.
Say: You have two-minutes to pick a costume and get yourself ready for photos! (Point out the costumes and props to be used to the shepherd so that he/she can best assist.)
Notes about the process (for the leader)
- Do the scenes in chronological order.
- Don’t allow students to switch roles. If necessary, say: “Every part is important in telling our story! It will help those who view our photo album if we are consistent in our roles.” With the exception of scenes 3, 6, and 8, use all the students in a scene.
- For some scenes roles will need to be changed – for example, in scene 1 those who are “SSS” will need to be crowd.
- As photos are staged remind students to be creative and to think about the emotions in the story – be sure to show those emotions on their faces and with their body expressions.
- Move students to the next scene before talking about the story that goes with that scene.
- Before reading the material for each scene, ask the students what happened in this part of the story. As much as possible get them to re-tell the story. Share any left-out portions.
- Younger students, especially 1st and 2nd graders, may not be able to change scenes quickly enough to do all 8 scenes.
- If you are running short on time, you may choose to skip 2, 4, or 8.
- Leave time for Closing.
1. Jesus enters Jerusalem (Palm Sunday)
Say: We’ll pretend that this is one of the gates into Jerusalem. When Jesus and his disciples came to Jerusalem, they came to celebrate Passover.
Ask: What happened in the first event of Holy Week, which we call “Palm Sunday?” (spread clothes & branches)
Say: They were all shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!”
Take picture: Position “Jesus,” some disciples walking by his side, have “crowds” (including the “SSS” as crowd) lining the path with branches and clothing; position them shouting “Hosanna,” raising hands; very excited.
Ask: Why were the people happy to welcome Jesus?
Say: They thought they were welcoming their warrior-king Messiah, who would save them from the Romans.
2. Jesus clears the Temple (if time is short, skip this scene)
Say: One of Jesus’ stops in Jerusalem was in the Temple; in fact he probably visited the Temple every day he was in Jerusalem.
Ask: What did Jesus find in the Temple when he first visited?
Say: Jesus was distressed at what he found there. It was a noisy marketplace! Salespeople and moneychangers were using God’s Temple to conduct business and they were cheating people! Jesus turned over the tables and said, “This is a place of prayer, not a den of thieves!”
Take picture: Have Jesus overturn the “tables,” while the salespeople (SSS’s) look angry, the customers (CCC’s) look frightened, and the disciples look surprised.
3. Judas agrees to betray Jesus
Say: For quite some time the religious leaders, including the chief priests, had wanted to find a way to get rid of Jesus. They were angry at the way Jesus challenged them.
Ask: How was their problem solved – how did they find a way to arrest Jesus?
Say: Judas, one of the twelve disciples went to the religious leaders. Judas asked them, “How much will you give me if I help you arrest Jesus?” They paid Judas thirty silver coins. From then on Judas started looking for a good chance to betray Jesus.
Not everyone is in this scene –
For 3rd grade and up: Have Jesus, the SSS, and the disciples use the Bibles to find out which gospels tell this portion of the story. (Answer: Matthew, Mark and Luke).
For 1st & 2nd grade: Have Shepherd take down the Bible pictures from the timeline, mix them up and ask kids to put them in correct order.
Take picture: Show some happy-looking chief priests paying Judas with the money sack. Judas is looking guilty and nervous. (Some of the chief priests could be peeking around from the edge of the fabric hanging from the ceiling.)
4. Jesus washes his disciples feet (if time is short, skip this scene)
Say: It was Thursday. Jesus and his disciples celebrated the feast of Passover. They gathered in an upper room for the meal. They would have sat at a low table such as this one. Jesus got up from the table, poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples feet.
Ask: Why was it unusual for Jesus to wash the disciples feet?
Say: Usually it was a servant who washed feet!
Ask: Why was it significant that Jesus washed their feet?
Say: By doing this, Jesus was showing us that he was willing to be a servant and that we should serve one another.
Take picture: Gather the disciples around the table. Position servants. (Have the CCC’s temporarily serve as Disciples). Yes, Judas had his feet washed. Show Jesus “washing” one disciple’s feet. Perhaps it can be Peter who is aghast at the concept of what Jesus is doing. Have the students stay at the table for the next photo.
5. Last Supper
Ask: What else happened in the Upper Room that night? (the Last Supper)
Say: Remember that Jesus knew that he was facing death.
Ask: What did Jesus do with the bread and the cup?
Say: During the meal he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body. Likewise, he picked up a cup of wine and gave thanks to God. He then gave it to his disciples and said, “Take this and drink it. This is my blood, and with it God makes his new Covenant with you. My blood will be poured out, so that people will have their sins forgiven.
Ask: What is this new Covenant that God has with us? (that we can have a close relationship with God)
What significance does the Last Supper hold for us today? (basis of Communion)
Take picture: Re-position the servants. CCC are still disciples. Have Jesus holding the cup and the disciples sharing the bread (pita). (Could have Judas leaving looking nervous.)
6. Garden of Gethsemane
Ask: Where did Jesus and his disciples go after dinner?
What happened in the Garden of Gethsemane? (Jesus prayed)
How was Jesus feeling? (very sad)
What happened in the garden?
Say: Jesus said, “Stay here and keep awake with me.” Jesus walked on a little way then fell with his face to the ground and prayed. Later he came back and found his disciples sleeping, so he said “Can’t any of you stay awake even one hour?” Again Jesus went away to pray. He prayed to God saying, “My father, if I must suffer, I will do what you want. Not what I want but what you want.”
Not everyone is in this scene –
For 3rd grade and up: Ask Judas, SSS and CCC to use the Bibles to find out if Jesus’ arrest is in all four of the gospels. (Yes, it is)
For 1st & 2nd grade: Have kids put mixed up Bible pictures from timeline in order.
Take picture: Pose this picture with sleeping disciples and Jesus praying. [If time allows, pose another picture with Jesus trying to wake his disciples.] Have everyone stay in the “garden” for the next scene.
7. Betrayal and arrest
Ask: What else happened in the garden? (Jesus was arrested)
Say: Judas arrived with a large mob sent by the religious leaders. They were armed with swords.
Ask: What happens with a sword?
Say: One of Jesus’ followers pulled out a sword and cut off the ear of one of the men. Jesus said “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him. The men grabbed Jesus and arrested him. All of Jesus’ disciples left him and ran away.
Take picture: Position Judas by Jesus. The other disciples can be meekly in the background, looking like they would rather not be there. The SSS can be soldiers. The CCC can participate as the arresting crowd.
Do: Gather everyone in a circle on the center rug. (Leave their costumes on, but leave the swords and shields behind!)
Say: We won’t be taking pictures of the next couple of events in Holy Week.
Ask: What happened afterJesus was arrested? (put on trial)
How was Jesus treated? (badly – beaten, mocked, spit upon)
Say: Jesus had several trials to decide if he was guilty, which the religious leaders decided that he was, even though Jesus had not done anything wrong.
For 3rd grade and up: (if time allows)…
Say: The people who had arrested Jesus were called “The Sanhedrin.” The Sanhedrin was a very powerful Jewish court made up of 71 men who were considered the most religious people. It is ironic that the Sanhedrin would put Jesus on trial; the most religious didn’t recognize God in the form of a human Jesus!
For all students:
Ask: Why do you suppose religious leaders wanted to have Jesus killed? (accept a few replies)
Say: The way Jesus talked, the healings Jesus had done, the growing number of followers he had… the religious leaders saw Jesus as a threat to their world. They were afraid.
For 3rd grade and up: (if time allows)…
Say: Unfortunately fear can result in hatred.
Ask: Do you see that happening anywhere today – fear leading to hatred? (accept a few replies, bullying perhaps?)
Have you ever done something out of fear that you’ve later regretted?
Say: Jesus was also tried before Herod. Herod was the Roman ruler over the region of Galilee, where Jesus was from. Herod and his soldiers taunted Jesus, placing a royal robe on him and sent him back to Pilate.
Say: The Gospel of Luke tells us that Pilate wanted to release Jesus. Because it was the Passover custom to release one prisoner, Pilate offered to the crowd to release either Jesus or a man named Barabbas (pronounced buh-RAB-uhs).
Ask: Whom did the crowd choose? (Barabbas)
For all students:
Say: At daybreak on Friday morning, Jesus was taken to see Pilate, the Roman governor. Since Rome was in charge, the religious leaders needed the Roman governor to actually sentence Jesus to die. But Pilate couldn’t find any reason to charge Jesus. When Pilate asked the crowd what he should do with Jesus, they shouted, “Crucify him!” This means that Jesus’ hands and feet were nailed to a cross. It was very painful, and this is how Jesus died
Ask: Why did Jesus have to suffer? (accept a few replies)
Say: Jesus suffered so that we can see just what a big problem sin is. We are human and we can’t help ourselves: we do things that push God away; we sin.
Do: Refer to the key verse poster.
Say: “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his son, his one and only son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed” – because sin wrecks our relationship with God. But because Jesus died, our sins are forgiven! “by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.” A close relationship with God! “God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.”
Ask: What was done with Jesus’ body after he died? (waslaid in a cave; a large stone was rolled in front of the entrance)
Can you imagine how Jesus’ friends and disciples were feeling? (allow all answers) Say: But Jesus’ death was not the end of the story!
Ask: We hear the words “the resurrection of Jesus,” what does resurrection mean? (literally means “rise again")
Say: Women who had followed Jesus had come to the tomb with spices, expecting to anoint his body. An angel told the women to tell Jesus’ disciples that Jesus had been raised from the dead! So the women started to leave and then Jesus was there! Let’s go and see the empty “tomb.”
8. Empty tomb (if time is short, skip this scene)
Do: Ask a couple of students to stay to take this picture after class is over.
Take picture: Jesus and the two “women” (choose two from among the class).
Say: God’s love for us is so amazing. Everyone close your eyes and listen to our key Bible verse from the Message Bible, John 3:16-17.
Do: Read from the key verse poster.
Say: This week think about what these words mean. Spend time thanking Jesus for what he did for you.
If extra time:
- Mix up the Bible timeline pictures & have students put them in correct order.
- Share ways that students celebrate Lent and Easter in their families.
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A lesson written by Carol Hulbert and Chris Nelson from: First UMC
Ann Arbor, MI
If you use this material, even in a modified form, please include the following reference:
Hulbert, Carol and Chris Nelson. "Holy Week – Photography Workshop." March 2014. Place URL where lesson found inside angle brackets<>.
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