Grades 3-6 Sunday School Lesson
Last Minute Details
Author’s Notes: In just a few days, we’ll be celebrating Easter; remembering Jesus’ death on the cross, and His miraculous resurrection. But in the last few days before Jesus’ sacrifice, He spent His time taking care of some last minute details that would help His disciples, and others who followed Him, to get through the difficult days ahead. In today’s lesson, we’re going to look at some of those last minute details that were on Jesus’ heart. Even as His death approached, He was still loving and thinking of others.
Are any of you planning to go somewhere for Easter? If you were planning to go on a long trip, what do you think you would need or want to do before you leave? You might need to buy some special supplies for your trip. You would have to pack those supplies, along with plenty of clothes to bring with you. Your parents might need to do things to prepare your house: making sure all the windows and doors are shut tight, turn the heat down (if you live where it’s cold), tell the mailman not to deliver your mail till you get back. They might even ask someone to keep an eye on your house, so nothing happens to it while you’re gone.
Then, you might want to let your friends know you’ll be gone, so they won’t wonder what happened to you. You might want to give them a phone number where they can reach you while you’re away, too. And if you have a pet that you can’t bring along with you, you would need to make arrangements for someone to take care of them for you, till you get back.
With Easter coming next week, this is a good time to look at what was on Jesus’ heart and mind as the time grew closer for Him to leave this earth for a little while. Jesus wasn’t just going on a trip. He knew He was going to die, and leave His disciples, His family, and many others who loved Him behind. It would only be for a short time, since He knew He would come back to life. But He also knew that the others would not understand what was happening. So just like someone going on a trip, Jesus took some time in the last few days before His death to take care of last minute details, so His family and friends would be as prepared as possible for what was about to happen. Even in the face of death, Jesus wasn’t thinking about Himself. He was still loving and thinking of others.
In today’s lesson, we’re going to follow Jesus through those last days, to see who Jesus made sure to spend some time with, and what important message He shared with them. Before we do, let’s learn this morning’s memory verse, together. It’s part of Jesus’ final words to His disciples; as He wanted them to understand why He had come to the earth.
Memory verse: (Have the children repeat this verse with you several times, until they are able to say it themselves. And encourage them to repeat it to others several times during the week, so that it’ll have a place in their hearts.)
“For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45
Opening prayer: Lord, thank You for each student who’s here, today. And thank You for Your Word, The Bible, where we can learn new truths about You, and the great promises You’ve given us. Help each one of us here, today, to be attentive to what You would have us learn. Give us open ears and hearts, ready to listen to Your words. Amen.
This Week’s Lesson: Last Minute Details (John 13, 17, and 19)
Jesus knew He was going to die. There was no doubt about it in His mind. It’s what He had come to this earth to do. He also knew that He would not stay in the grave, because He is God, and has the power over death! But one other thing He knew was that His followers still didn’t fully understand why their Messiah would have to die. They also didn’t realize that He was going to rise again. So Jesus used the last few days of His life, before His crucifixion, to spend time with many of those who loved and followed Him. He shared many things with them that they would need to know after He died, and then later, when He went back to Heaven.
(Jesus takes time for His disciples, John 13)
One of those groups of people Jesus wanted to take time to minister to was His own disciples. Even though they had been with Him minute by minute, day and night, for three years, there were so many things they still didn’t understand. And Jesus knew they were going to be confused and hurt by His arrest and death on the cross. So He took them to a private place where He could share with them some important things that He wanted them to remember when He was no longer with them. Let’s listen to what happened between Jesus and His disciples, as they finished eating supper in the upper room. See if you can find the important lessons that Jesus wanted His disciples to learn:
1 Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.
2 And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him;
3 Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;
4 He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.
5 After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
Keep in mind that the roads at this time would have been dirt roads. So Jesus and the disciples would have come into the upper room with very dirty feet. Also remember that in this culture, they would likely have eaten dinner in a reclining position. So everyone’s dirty feet would not have been hidden under a table. They were out there for all to see. That’s why many households had a servant who washed each guest’s feet as they came in the door. But there was no hired servant at this dinner; only Jesus with His disciples. And no one had offered to take the role of the foot-washer.
So who was it that put on the servant’s garment to wash everyone else’s feet? Jesus did.
6 Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?
7 Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.
8 Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet…
How did Peter feel about having Jesus wash his feet? He did not want Jesus to do it. Why do you think Peter felt that way? Peter recognized that washing others’ feet was a job for a lowly servant. And Jesus was the Messiah, not a servant! At least that’s the way it seemed in his mind. But Jesus had an important lesson for all of them to learn…
12 So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?
13 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.
14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet.
15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.
17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.
By being the example, Himself, Jesus was trying to teach His disciples a couple of very important lessons; ones they would need once He was gone. What do you think those lessons were?
The first lesson was humility – not thinking of yourself as more important than others, but putting their needs first. Paul put it this way in Philippians 2:3-8:
3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Do you suppose that one of the disciples, maybe even Peter, shared his foot-washing experience with Paul? He seems to have had a good understanding of Jesus’ willingness to show great humility.
You see, it was not very long before this occasion that the disciples had been arguing among themselves about who was going to be the greatest, when they reached Heaven. So as Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, He was giving them a perfect picture of acting “in lowliness of mind,” looking to the needs of others before Himself. That’s not what the disciples had been doing. But Jesus wanted disciples who were willing to serve. Humility and servanthood would be necessary as the disciples moved forward to start the church, once Jesus went back to Heaven. The disciples would need to be willing to put all other needs ahead of their own for the churches to learn from them, and grow.
Of course, as Paul says here, Jesus’ greatest demonstration of humility was in coming to earth as a man, and dying on the cross. So in a very short amount of time, Jesus’ disciples saw firsthand what it means to put everyone else’s needs ahead of your own.
Jesus had one more lesson for His disciples, as He finished washing their feet. Let’s look back at the final verse we read in John 13.
17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.
How do you think you would feel about washing the feet of the person next to you? Does it seem to you like that would make you happy? What does the verse say? It says you WILL be happy if you do things to serve others. Have you ever done something to help someone else? Maybe raked the leaves in their lawn, or taken some food to them? How did it make you feel? It probably made you feel really good inside. And that’s because serving others is pleasing to the Lord. So His Spirit inside you is letting you know that you’ve done a wonderful thing. And in serving others, you’re really serving the Lord!
The disciples wouldn’t always have Jesus there with them, to remind them that they should be willingly, happily serving others. But you can be sure they never forgot the feeling of that water running down their feet, as Jesus Himself wiped them with the servant’s towel He had wrapped around Himself.
(Jesus takes time for His mother)
Not only was Jesus concerned about His disciples, and how they would do after He was gone. Jesus also had another special person on His mind, as His death drew near… His mother. This was a very important detail He certainly did not want to overlook before His death.
25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.
26 When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!
27 Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.
As Jesus hung, dying on the cross, He looked down and saw His own mother there, with John, one of His closest disciples. And once again Jesus was not thinking about Himself. Jesus was concerned for His mother, and who would care for her when He couldn’t be there Himself.
What did Jesus ask John, the disciple “whom he loved,” to do? Jesus asked John from that moment on to treat Mary as his own mother. Mary had other children. And eventually her son James, Jesus’ half-brother, would become a strong member of the church that followed Christ, once He had gone back to Heaven. But at this point, when Jesus was getting ready to die, none of His other family members believed in Him as their Messiah. And it was important to Jesus that Mary have a son who would care for her as He would, Himself. Jesus knew He could trust His beloved disciple, John, to do just that. And it was very shortly after John agreed that Jesus gave up His life on the cross. He was able to leave Mary knowing that she was in very good and loving hands.
(Jesus makes time for us)
Then, there was one other group that Jesus made time for, before He went to the cross. Listen as I read, and see if you can figure out who else Jesus was taking care of in the final moments before His death on the cross.
20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.
25 O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.
26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.
Jesus was spending His final moments praying to His Father. And who was He praying for, in these verses? If you’ve asked Jesus to forgive your sins and come into your heart, then He was praying, here, for you! Did you know that you were on Jesus’ mind, even back then? Romans 5:8 tells us that, “…God commendeth [or demonstrated] his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Before we were saved, before we were ever even born, Jesus was thinking of us and praying for us. He was so concerned for us that He talked to His Father about us just before He went to the cross.
And what did Jesus ask the Father, on our behalf? He asked that we would be as one, just like He and His Father are. And that happens when we do what Paul said back in Philippians 2: all have the same mind… the mind of Christ.
Jesus also asked that we would join Him in Heaven someday, where we’ll be able to see Him in all of His glory. We can be sure that the Father will grant this request because Jesus told His disciples, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:3)
And finally, Jesus asked that the love of God would be in us. And when we ask Him to come into our hearts and lives, that’s exactly what happens. God’s Spirit is in us, so His love is in us, just as Jesus prayed.
How does it feel, knowing that you were on one of the last things on Jesus’ mind before He died on the cross for your sins? It should make us feel pretty special! Jesus loves us so much that in His darkest hour, He was more concerned about us than about what was going to happen to Him. That’s Love!
And what can we do in return? 1 John 4:19 says, “We love him, because he first loved us.” Since Jesus did so much to show us His love, the least we can do is love Him, in return. Today many are celebrating Palm Sunday, remembering the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem to shouts of Hosanna! But most of those who celebrated Him that day, rejected Him and put Him on a cross.
Could Jesus have come down from that cross if He wanted to? Yes. God’s Word says He could have called ten thousand angels to come. But He stayed there, to be our sacrifice. We were on His mind as He prayed to His Father in the garden. We were on His mind as He chose to stay on the cross and give up His life. And we were on His mind as He won the victory over sin and death only three days later.
Have you returned the love Jesus has shown you? Have you accepted His gift of salvation through His shed blood on the cross? If not, you can do so today by telling Him you’re sorry for your sins that put Him on that cross. And that you want Him to forgive those sins, and come into your life. He can do that because His death paid for your sin. And His resurrection proved He has to power over death and sin. When you confess your sin to Him, and believe that He died and rose again for you, then you can be saved!
Closing Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for loving us, and for keeping us in mind, even when You faced the toughest moments of Your life here, on earth. Help us to find a way this week to show You how much we love You, in return. For we pray in Jesus’ name, amen.
Activity: (Review Questions)
Fill in the Blanks
True or False
1. Peter offered to wash everyone’s feet, instead of Jesus. (false – no one else offered to wash their feet)
2. Jesus washed the disciples’ feet to teach them about serving others. (true)
3. Jesus told the disciples that they should serve others, even though it would make them miserable. (false – He said it would make them happy)
4. John agreed to take Mary as his own mother. (true)
5. Jesus was thinking of others, even as He was dying on the cross. (true)