Editor’s note: Today’s devotion is slightly adapted from a family devotion packet that accompanies the This Is Love Family Activity Magnet. CTA has written six FREE, reproducible Easter devotions just like this one. You can send them home for families to use in their personal devotions, use them in your Sunday school, or make them part of your Easter outreach event.
Before you begin, collect six pictures - three happy, two sad, and one of Jesus on the cross. The happy pictures might include things like a puppy, a birthday cake, or a group of children leaving school on the last day. The sad pictures could include things like a pouty child, a sick person in a hospital bed, or a traffic accident.
I’m so glad you are here today! It’s always a happy day when you come to God’s house!
Today we will look at some pictures. I want to put them in two groups. One group is the joy group, one group is the sad group. (Show your first picture.) Which group should I put this picture in? What clues tell you that? (Show your next picture.) Which group should I put this picture in? What clues tell you that? (Continue showing pictures and discussing. Save the picture of Jesus on the cross for last.)
It was pretty easy to tell that the [puppy] goes in our joy group, wasn’t it? It was easy to tell that [the very sick person] belongs in the sad group, wasn’t it? But this next picture is harder. (Show the picture of Jesus on the cross.) Which group should I put this picture in? (Listen to the children’s answers and to the clues they name, but don’t make a decision right away.)
Who is this man? What is happening in this picture? Yes, it is Jesus, our Savior. He is being punished on the cross. Later that day, he would die. Usually when someone is punished, he or she has done something wrong. Did Jesus do anything wrong? No, he did not. Jesus never, ever disobeyed God. Jesus never, ever broke any of God’s laws, his Commandments. Jesus never, ever sinned.
So why is Jesus being punished? For whose sins is he dying? Yes! He is dying for all those times we lie. Jesus is dying for those times we could pray, but we do something else instead. Jesus is dying for those times we say mean things about our teachers or friends. Jesus is dying for that fit we threw last night when Mom said, “Eat your broccoli,” but we didn’t want to.
What do you think? Does this picture belong in my sad group? Or in my joy group? (Let the children volunteer, but don’t make a decision right away.) This picture is very sad. When we think of the fact that Jesus was punished - not for his own sins, but for ours - we feel sad. That sad feeling is sorrow. It makes us want to change, to obey God, to be kind and loving people.
But there’s something else to say about this picture. Because Jesus suffered, because he let himself be punished in our place, we are forgiven. Our sins are ALL erased. They are washed away, gone forever and ever and ever! To prove that, God raised Jesus from the dead. Jesus did not stay dead. He came alive and walked out of the tomb on the first Easter morning.
Now what do you think? Does this picture belong in my sad group? Or in my joy group? (Let the children respond.) I think it belongs in BOTH groups, don’t you? But maybe it fits better in the joy group.
Let’s pray: Dear Jesus, we are so sad for our sins and the pain you bore because of them. We jump for joy, though, when we remember you have forgiven us. We are God’s children! Thank you SO MUCH, Jesus! Amen.
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