Use this children’s Sunday School lesson to teach kids about Jesus praying in the Garden, Judas’ betrayal, and Peter’s denial.
Needed: Bibles, dice
Intro Game: Traitor Among Us!
Have students close their eyes. Explain that when you walk among them and tap one student on the shoulder, that student is the Traitor. When you tap them, they should look up and point to another student.
Have everyone open their eyes and say that the student the Traitor pointed to is not the Traitor. Students then have the opportunity to guess who the Traitor is. If they guess more than one person, have them take a vote. If the majority votes for the actual Traitor, they win and the game is over. Choose a new Traitor and play again.
If the majority is wrong, the person the Traitor pointed at is out. Have everyone close their eyes and then, ask the Traitor to point to another student. The game continues until students guess the real Traitor or the Traitor is one of the last two students left. If the Traitor makes it to the end, they win.
Play as long as time allows. Then, explain that one of Jesus’ disciples was a traitor.
Alternative Intro Game: Jesus Betrayed!
Choose one student to be Jesus. Then, have “Jesus” turn around and choose one of the other students to be the Traitor.
“Jesus” then tries to tag all the other students, but if they tag the Traitor, they’re out. “Jesus” wins when they tag everyone except the Traitor.
Explain that Jesus chose His disciples, but one of them was a traitor.
Tell students, The Bible story we’re about to read takes place right after Jesus washed His disciples’ feet and gave them Communion for the first time.
(Read Matthew 26:30-34.)
“When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus told them, ‘This very night you will all fall away on account of Me, for it is written: “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.”
“’But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.’
“Peter replied, ‘Even if all fall away on account of You, I never will.’
“’Truly I tell you,’ Jesus answered, ‘this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown Me three times.’”
How did Jesus know that Peter would deny knowing Him? (God told Him. God knows everything even before it happens.)
(Read Matthew 26:36-38.)
“Then Jesus went with His disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and He said to them, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with Him, and He began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then He said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with Me.’”
Jesus said that He was sad. Why do you think He would be sad? (Jesus knew that He was going to die on the cross soon and was afraid because He knew it would hurt.)
Why did Jesus want His friends to pray with Him?
It’s good to help support each other in prayer.
What do you think Jesus wanted the disciples to pray about?
He might have wanted them to pray that He would brave and do what God wanted Him to do. Maybe He wanted to pray for themselves for God to help them stay strong and keep believing in Him when He was arrested and put to death on the cross.
(Read Matthew 26:39-44.)
“Going a little farther, He fell with His face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.’
“Then He returned to His disciples and found them sleeping. ‘Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?’ He asked Peter. ‘Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.’
“He went away a second time and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may Your will be done.’
“When He came back, He again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So He left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.”
What did Jesus decide about His dying?
He decided to do what God wanted Him to do and die. He wanted God to make it so that He wouldn’t have to die, but He said He would die if it was God’s will.
Even though it was hard, Jesus was willing to die because He knew that’s what God wanted Him to do so that He could save us. Jesus loved us and wanted to save us so much that He was willing to die on the cross.
Sometimes, God might ask us to do something hard, too, and we have to be willing to do it because God always has a good reason for telling us to do something. If we listen to God, everything will always work out for the best.
(Read Matthew 26:45-54.)
“Then He returned to the disciples and said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!’
“While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: ‘The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.’ Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ and kissed Him.
“Jesus replied, ‘Do what you came for, friend.’
“Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested Him. With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.
“‘Put your sword back in its place,’ Jesus said to him, ‘for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?’”
Peter attacked one of the guards that came to arrest Jesus, but Jesus told Peter to put his sword away. Why do you think Jesus didn’t want Peter to fight the guards? (Jesus knew that He had to be arrested so that He could die as the punishment for our sins.)
(Read Matthew 26:55-64.)
“In that hour Jesus said to the crowd, ‘Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture Me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest Me. But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.’ Then all the disciples deserted Him and fled.
“Those who had arrested Jesus took Him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled. But Peter followed Him at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome.
“The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put Him to death. But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward.
“Finally two came forward and declared, ‘This fellow said, “I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’’’
“Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, ‘Are You not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against You?’ But Jesus remained silent.
“The high priest said to Him, ‘I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.’
“‘You have said so,’ Jesus replied. ‘But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.’”
Jesus said that in the future, everyone would see Him coming with power out of the clouds. What do you think that means?
Jesus will come back out of the sky one day and will judge everyone in the whole world, sending those people who don’t believe in Him to Hell and bringing everyone who does believe in Him back to life and making them live forever.
(Read Matthew 26:65-72.)
“Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, ‘He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?’
“‘He is worthy of death,’ they answered.
“Then they spit in His face and struck Him with their fists. Others slapped him and said, ‘Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?’
“Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. ‘You also were with Jesus of Galilee,’ she said.
“But he denied it before them all. ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about,’ he said.
“Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, ‘This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.’
“He denied it again, with an oath: ‘I don’t know the man!’”
Why did Peter say that he didn’t know Jesus? (He was afraid and thought that he might be arrested, too, for being Jesus’ follower.)
But we should never be afraid to tell people that we’re followers of Jesus. We should never be embarrassed to say we believe in Jesus.
(Read Matthew 26:73-75.)
“After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, ‘Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.’
“Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, ‘I don’t know the man!’
“Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: ‘Before the rooster crows, you will disown Me three times.’ And he went outside and wept bitterly.”
Why was Peter crying? (He felt bad for saying he didn’t know Jesus.)
(Read Matthew 27:1-5.)
“Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people made their plans how to have Jesus executed. So they bound Him, led Him away and handed Him over to Pilate the governor.
“When Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. ‘I have sinned,’ he said, ‘for I have betrayed innocent blood.’
“’What is that to us?’ they replied. ‘That’s your responsibility.’
“So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.”
Why did Judas give back the money and then hang himself? (He felt guilty for being a traitor to Jesus and telling the guards where to find Him so that they could arrest Him.)
Was it good for Judas to hang himself? (No.)
What should he have done instead? (He should have asked God to forgive him.)
When we do something wrong, we should ask God for forgiveness. God will always forgive us when we ask Him to because He loves us.
Game: Raising the Dice
Remind students that Jesus wanted His disciples to pray with Him before He was arrested. Then, divide students into two teams and give each time a six-sided die. The first student from each team runs up to a table and rolls their dice. The student with the highest roll gets a point for their team.
The trick is that each team can help their player. As the students are rolling their die, the teams cheer. The team that’s the loudest gets to add one number to their player’s die roll. So, if Team A’s player rolls a 3, but their team is cheering the loudest, you’ll count that player’s roll as a 4.
Students re-roll in case of a tie, but only if the tie occurs after you add the cheering bonus.
After the first two students roll and you determine who gets the point, those students run back to their teams, hand off their die, and the next students run up. The team with the most points after everyone has rolled wins.
Explain that when we pray for someone, it’s like we’re cheering for them. We’re asking God to help them.
Game: Traitor Among Us! or Jesus Betrayed!
Play one of the intro games again and remind students that even though Judas betrayed Jesus, he could have asked God to forgive him, and God would have. God will always forgive us if we ask Him to.
Jesus, we thank You for being willing to die on the cross to take our punishment. And we thank You that You always forgive us. Help us to trust in You as we wait for You to come back and make it so that we can live forever with You. Amen.
You can also find this lesson for Kindle or in print in my book, He Came, He Saw, He Conquered.