Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of six devotions intended to help children prepare for Easter. It’s slightly adapted from CTA’s theme for spring, Jesus Lives! Let’s Celebrate!
Familiarize yourself with the devotion. Bookmark Acts 10:43 in your Bible and practice reading this verse as you clarify the pronouns (him, his) as Jesus, our Savior. Place today’s white magnet piece of your Jesus Lives! Let’s Celebrate activity magnet on a metal cookie sheet or pizza pan.
Put the assembled red and orange pieces on the other side of the pan.
Place the metal pan and your Bible inside a bag.
Have extra red Jesus Lives! Let’s Celebrate magnet pieces on hand and plan to distribute them to children who didn’t receive one to take home last time.
(Warmly welcome the children and invite them to sit near you. Nearby, place the bag of items you prepared ahead of time. Remind your listeners that you are counting down until Easter—the wonderful day when Jesus came alive after his death on the cross. Show the children the white puzzle piece and point out the word “forgiven” on it.
Tell the group that soon we celebrate Christ’s resurrection. Invite everyone to join you as you count down together, this time beginning at four: 4, 3, 2, 1—Jesus lives! Let’s celebrate!)
What’s the greatest thing Jesus, our Savior, has done for us? Yes, Jesus “four” (hold up four fingers) -gave us! Jesus died for us and rose again to forgive our sins.
Getting to the Heart
Listen to what the Bible says about forgiveness. (Read Acts 10:43 from your Bible or below. Be sure the children understand that the “him/his” pronouns in this verse refer to Jesus, our Savior.)
“Everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10:43).
What does the word forgiveness mean? Yes, Jesus took the sins of the world to his cross. Jesus paid the price for sin. Jesus washed away our sins. He died for all the wrong things we do. He was punished instead of us. Our sins are gone—forgiven—forever! (Show the “No Sin” symbol on today’s puzzle piece and put together the three pieces you’ve talked about so far.) Jesus forgives our sins and he helps us live more loving, obedient lives, too.
The Bible tells of many, many people that Jesus forgave. Let’s think about four forgiven people from the Bible. Help me keep track of the for-given people by holding up one finger each time I name a new person.
One: Jesus for-gave Matthew. Matthew was a cheater and a thief. He was supposed to take tax money from the people and give that money to the ruler. But Matthew cheated. He took more money from the people than he was supposed to and kept the extra money for himself. Jesus knew Matthew was a cheater and a thief. But Jesus forgave Matthew. What’s more, Jesus invited Matthew to be his disciple and learn how to live the way God wants. How do you think Matthew felt when Jesus forgave him? Yes, very happy! (Lead the children in happily twirling your index finger.)
Two: One day Jesus’ disciples argued about who was the greatest. They said mean, hurtful words to each other. Jesus stopped them. He told them that the important thing is not to be first, but to be humble. Jesus for-gave his friends for their pride and arguing. Then he helped them care about each other. How do you think the friends felt when Jesus forgave them? Yes, very happy! (Happily twirl two raised fingers.)
Three: As Jesus hung on the cross, dying for us, Jesus forgave a man who had done some very, very bad things. The Bible doesn’t tell us the man’s name, but we know he was a very bad criminal. This man was hanging on a cross beside Jesus. The man was suffering and dying for his crimes. Jesus comforted and forgave this criminal. That very day, Jesus said, the criminal would be with Jesus in paradise! How do you think the forgiven man felt when he heard this? Very, very happy! (Happily twirl all three fingers.)
Four: Are you ready for the best news of all? Jesus for-gives you! Jesus knows about all the unkind things you say. He knows about all the times you disobey your mom or dad or teachers. Jesus even knows the hateful thoughts you think! He knows, but he keeps on loving you! When you sin, he helps you recognize your sin and confess it. He died for your sins and forgives you! Your sins are crossed out forever! (Once again, call attention to the symbol on today’s puzzle piece.)
Our sins have been forgiven—crossed out—forever, by Jesus, our Savior. This forgiveness fills us with joy now and forever! (Happily twirl all four fingers.)
Taking It Home
Use the following action rhyme to review Jesus’ sacrifice and its meaning for us:
Jesus died (use index fingers to indicate nail marks in each palm)
For me (point to self)
For you (point outward)
To give us (hands out, palms up)
Forgiveness. (form cross with index fingers)
Our sins are crossed out—forever! (form a cross with your arms)
Pray together to thank Jesus for the forgiveness he won for us on his cross:
Dear Savior Jesus, thank you for loving and forgiving us. Your death on the cross crossed out our sins forever, and now we are forgiven. Help us share this good news of salvation with others. Amen.
(Distribute the Jesus Lives! Let’s Celebrate activity magnet pieces to any children who didn’t get one last time as you hand out white pieces to everyone. Encourage them to put the three pieces together at home. Remind them that Jesus died and rose for each of us. Jesus will love us forever!)
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.