JESUS DIED FOR US
Scripture: John 18:28–40, 19:1–30; Romans 5:8
Memory verse: Romans 5:8
"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
(Gather the following items before class. Display them at the appropriate points in the lesson: purple cloth, thorns, a long spike, a whip, a sponge, and vinegar.)
Hearing God's Word
Many people in Jesus’ day did not believe Jesus was God’s Son. They wanted to get rid of Jesus. The Jewish religious leaders were jealous of Jesus’ popularity. They plotted to arrest Him and try Him in a Jewish court. With Judas’ help, their plot was successful. They took Jesus to the high priest. The charge was blasphemy. They said Jesus had called himself the king of the Jews. But Jesus was not trying to trick the people. He meant He was their heavenly king, not their earthly king.
The Jewish governing group, called the Sanhedrin, was led by Caiaphas, the high priest. The Sanhedrin did not have the authority to sentence someone to death. Decisions this important had to be referred to the Roman governor. He would make the decision.
Jesus Goes to Pilate
So the Sanhedrin delivered Jesus to Pilate for judgement. Pilate was the Roman governor of the Jews. The Sanhedrin had a problem with their case against Jesus. They did not have enough evidence to convict Him. Pilate wanted more evidence before he made such a serious sentence, so he told the Sanhedrin to make the judgement themselves according to their Jewish law. The Jewish religious leaders had determined to see Jesus put to death, and Roman law did not allow the Jewish Sanhedrin to put anyone to death. So they kept pressuring Pilate to do it.
Barabbas Goes Free
Pilate told the Jewish leaders he could not find any evidence that Jesus was pretending to be a political king. Pilate could tell the Jews were not going to give up on Jesus that easily. So, to please the Jews, he offered to trade Jesus for Barabbas, a local prisoner.
It was a custom for the Roman governor to release one prisoner of their choice during the Passover season. Because Barabbas was such a terrible criminal, Pilate thought the crowd would surely rather see Jesus go free. Instead, the crowd shouted for Pilate to put Jesus to death.
Jesus is Tortured
Still trying to avoid a decision, Pilate attempted to calm the Jews by having Jesus scourged or severely whipped. (Display whip.) He thought the Jews might be satisfied to see Jesus tortured and humiliated. He let his soldiers make up a crown like circle of spiny thorns and press them into Jesus’ head. (Display thorns and purple cloth.) Then the soldiers put a purple robe on Jesus’ shoulders. They started calling Him “king of the Jews” and hitting Him with their hands.
When we tell about Jesus’ dying for us, we tend to leave out the details. It takes only a short time to say, “Jesus died and rose again.” But the suffering Jesus went through lasted for hours. Blood dripped from where the thorns were cutting His head; His face ached from bruises made by the soldiers’ fists, His back bled and stung from the long, deep lashes of the whip. All this suffering came before He was nailed to the cross.
The Crowd is not Satisfied
Jesus wore the crown of thorns and the purple robe as Pilate presented Him to the Jews again. He hoped they would be satisfied. Again, he made it a point to tell the Jews he could find no fault in Jesus. What happened then?
Pilate did not want to allow Jesus’ death because he did not believe Jesus was guilty. Once more Pilate told the Jews he could find no fault in Jesus. This time he emphasized the point by telling them that if Jesus was going to be crucified, the people would have to do the crucifying themselves. He did not want to be responsible.
The Crowd’s Argument
The Jews presented an important argument to Pilate. What was it? (Ask a student volunteer to read John 19:7, 8.) The Jews argued that under Jewish law Jesus should be convicted of blasphemy. The penalty was death.
Pilate questioned Jesus in private. (Ask a student to read John 19:9.)
Ask: “What was Pilate asking here?” (Encourage discussion.)
Pilate was not concerned with where Jesus lived; he wanted to know where He got His authority and His ideas.
Ask: “Why did Jesus not answer?” (Allow discussion.)
Finally Pilate tried to act tough. He threatened Jesus with death. (Ask a student to read John 19:10, 11.) Jesus pointed out that Pilate had no power over Him except what was given by God. Jesus knew He must suffer in order to save us from sin’s punishment.
Ask: “What is our memory verse today?” (Repeat the memory verse with the students.)
Jesus loved us enough to die for our sins. Even though the angry mob was demanding His death, Jesus still loved them. He gave His life to forgive their sins as well as ours.
The Sentence Is Given
Pilate made one last try to persuade the Jews to drop the case, but they answered him by questioning Pilate’s loyalty to Caesar. (Ask a student to read John 19:12.) In the end Pilate gave in to the Jews’ demands. His weak character was broken down by the threats of the crowd. For 2,000 years Pilate has been remembered as a coward. He would not stand up for what he knew was right.
Jesus is Crucified
John, the writer of this account, does not go into a lot of detail about Jesus’ crucifixion. John just says: “they crucified him” (John 19:18).
Ask: “What does it mean to be crucified?” (Allow responses.)
Besides all the pain Jesus was feeling from His trial several hours before, imagine the pain of the spikes being hammered into His hands and feet. (Display the spike.) Worst of all, Jesus was carrying the burden caused by the sins of every person who has ever lived.
(Ask a student to read John 19:28-30.) Even then the soldiers had no mercy. They dipped a sponge in wine vinegar, stuck it on a branch of the hyssop plant, and offered it to Jesus. When Jesus tasted this bitter drink, He cried out His last words: “It is finished.”
Jesus’ Death Give us Life
This event is the foundation for our salvation. Jesus had to suffer and die for all the sins of the world. This was God’s plan. Jesus paid every debt of sin that anyone in the world—past, present, and future—ever owed to God. Jesus rose to life again. All that is left for us to do is believe Jesus suffered and died for us, repent, and ask Him to forgive our sins. Then we have eternal life also.
Jesus did not go through all that torture and humiliation just to fill the pages of our Bible. He did it to fill our life with His love. He suffered because He loves us so much He wants to be our Saviour and the Lord of our lives.
Accepting God’s Word
An amazing thing about Jesus’ death is that He died even for people who did not love Him. He died for everyone.
Review the memory verse. Note that the verse shows Jesus was not forced to die. His love prompted Him to give His life for us. This gift of salvation is available to all people. Invite any student who has not accepted Jesus to do so now.
Jesus endured hardship and a painful death because He loves us. Refer to the objects used during the class as a review. Note that Jesus suffered for a purpose. Ask the students to explain that purpose.
Emphasize that Jesus willingly suffered so we could have a right relationship with God—now and for eternity. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins, even the worst sinner can have eternal life if he repents and chooses Jesus.
Ask the class to write down the names of friends or family who do not know Jesus. Encourage each student to contact a person from his list this week and tell that person about salvation and the sacrifice that made it possible.
Arriving in the village, we parked our vehicle under a large tree in front of the chief’s house. A village restaurant was located nearby, and several village elders were relaxing in the shade. The chief introduced us and we were given a warm, open welcome.
Introductions were made and then I made a traditional Tanzanian driver’s request. “It has been a long journey and the driver needs a cup of tea,” I said.
“You will have your tea,” the chief responded, “but what about first drinking some fresh coconut milk.”
I agreed, and shortly a young man appeared with several coconuts. He sliced them across the top, peeled back the shells and offered us the drink. It was cool and refreshing!
Tea was served in the little restaurant. Afterward the chief and about 10 village elders escorted us through their village. We looked down at the crops in the fertile valley, viewed the old British market used during colonial days, observed the cassava warehouse, stopped by the mosque and inspected the “Millennium Project” dispensary built with U.S. Aid funds.
The dispensary doctor is a Mwera native who assists the community with immunizations, pre- and postnatal services, and minor medical needs. The dispensary was very impressive. I commented to the doctor and elders that they had been spending my tax money, which brought a good laugh from all.
REMEMBER TO PRAY!
Pray for Mwera to Love God
1. Understand that God is love,
2. Believe in Jesus and experience God's love,
3. Know that Jesus is living in them and wants to express His love through them.
"God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them" (1 John 4:16).
Remember: JESUS DIED FOR US
Memory verse: Romans 5:8
"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
1. Jesus carried my sin and took my punishment on the Cross.
2. His sacrificial death provides cleansing and forgiveness for my sin.
3. What He did for me, He did for everyone. Jesus paid for our salvation.
Pray for Mwera to love God.
Study 15 | Will of God / Jesus is Lord | africaatts.org/go-teach