Looking for a way to make a difference in the lives of children this spring? Consider using CTA’s six-part magnet activity, Journey to the Cross. While you’re at it, check out all our new children’s items! This devotion is adapted from the fourth of six that come FREE with the item. You can send them home with parents or use them as children’s sermons throughout your church’s time of Easter preparation.

Getting Started

Practice the devotion and bookmark John 3:16 in your Bible.

Attach the magnet piece for today’s devotion (“Love” and heart) on a metal cookie sheet or pizza pan. Put a fully assembled Journey to the Cross magnet puzzle on the other side of the pan. See CTA’s Journey to the Cross Activity Magnet.

Think about how to distribute today’s magnet piece take-home. If your group is large, ask a volunteer or two for help.

Put everything for today’s devotion in a suitcase.

Introduction

Warmly greet the children and invite everyone to sit down near you. Gesture to your suitcase. How many suitcases can you carry at one time? Two? Three? Could you carry all of the suitcases for your family’s vacation? Plus, your neighbor’s and friend’s suitcases? Could you carry all of them at once? No way!

Getting to the Heart

There was a time when one person carried something much more than suitcases. He carried the burden of all our sins. Jesus did that. He carried our sins—all of them—to his cross. “Sins” are all the wrong things we think, say, and do. We sin when we act in selfish ways. We sin when we say mean words about one another and to one another. We sin when we take things that don’t belong to us. We also sin when we have a chance to do good, kind things, but decide not to do them. 

If God punished us for our sins, it would be terrible. The punishment would be much, much worse than time-out. It would last for more than a year, for more than two years, for more than ten years. It would last forever!

We couldn’t carry the burden of our own sins, let alone the sins of others. God didn’t want to punish us, but he couldn’t just ignore our sins. It wouldn’t be fair to let all our wrong doing go unpunished. Justice said that someone had to be punished. And that person had to be perfect. If he had sins of his own, he couldn’t be punished for ours! Only God’s Son, Jesus, was perfect. Only Jesus could carry our sins. Only he could pay the price for all our sins. He did that when he died on the cross.

Why did Jesus do it? Why did Jesus carry all of those sins? Why did he take them away for us? Show the heart magnet. Here is the answer. Jesus carried our sins to his cross and died for us because of love. It was not that we loved God enough, but that he loved us. He loved us so, so much that he was willing to sacrifice his son, Jesus, in our place.

Read John 3:16 from your Bible, slowly and deliberately, accenting the love of God. Jesus carried our sins to the cross, and now we can be sure we have forgiveness. We can be sure that Jesus, our Savior, will keep us close to himself always, now and in heaven!

Pray, having the children repeat each phrase after you:

Dear Jesus,/ you must really love us a lot!/ You went to the cross/ and took sin’s punishment/—though you never sinned at all!/ You gladly took the punishment/ we deserved./ Thank you, Jesus,/ for loving us so very much./ Help us love you more each day./ Amen.

Taking It Home

Give each child one of the magnet puzzle pieces for today. Also give extra pieces from the first three devotions in this series to any children who did not receive them previously. As time will allow, work together to assemble the pieces they have already received and match the words to the picture clues for each.

Remind the children that when they come back next time, you will give them the next two puzzle pieces. There are 12 pieces in all. When they have collected all the pieces, they can put them together to complete the magnet puzzle.

You are welcome to copy this article for one-time use in your organization as long as you will receive no monetary benefit from it. Please include the copyright line printed below and submit an actual copy of use to CTA, attention Editorial Manager.
Used with permission grant #032712. © 2012 CTA, Inc. No duplication of this article is allowed without the express written consent of CTA, PO Box 1205, Fenton, MO 63026-1205. www.CTAinc.com.
Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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