Use this free Bible study and teaching activities in youth ministry groups to teach about the meaning of the Last Supper and Good Friday. John 13:1-20, John 19:16-37 Discussion and games are included to help teenagers grow in their faith. As always, make relationships the priority in your youth group devotional or teaching.
Easter is a joyful and critical holiday. For Christians, it could be considered even more significant than Christmas. Not only did Jesus come to Earth, but He died and rose again! Christ fulfills God’s promises for creation. Before the Resurrection, though, Jesus had to suffer and die. Although it can be tough to dwell on, it is important for us to consider the crucifixion and what our Lord went through for our sake.
This youth ministry lesson looks at the final moments of Christ’s life. Even teens who have grown up in Sunday school can benefit from re-visiting the events of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Students should have opportunity to examine the Gospel in-depth and think about what these things mean for them today.
Bible Story Video for this Lesson: The Crucifixion of Jesus
The Darkest Night: Youth Group Discussion Lesson for Good Friday and The Last Supper
Lesson focus: Jesus came to Earth to serve, and gave up His very life for our sins. The ideas in this lesson cover the Last Supper He shared with His disciples, as well as His crucifixion. You may wish to break this up into two separate lessons, depending on audience and timing.
Passage: John 13:1-20, John 19:16-37 *Note: other Gospels feature these stories, as well, but John goes into particular detail regarding some of the events. It is highly recommended to read through the chapters entirely. If time allows, consider reviewing the other Good Friday Bible passages Gospel account for comparison (or assign as a home study).
Target Audience: Middle-high school students (6th-12th grade) other church youth group classes.
Optional Materials: Paper or plastic cups or communion cups; paper; fact sheets or images; Passover meal items; crackers or bread; bucket, towel.
Youth Group Games and Lesson Introduction
Lesson Opening Activities: Here are some activity ideas to incorporate with your experience and discussion of the Passion. There are many teaching methods and youth ministry game additions that you can use as you see fit! These openers are meant to provide interactive elements that will spark conversation surrounding Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.
- Foot bath! Practice serving each other as Jesus did, and carry out His act of washing feet. Hopefully our feet aren’t quite as dirty as those of the disciples, but you can still enjoy washing and maybe even massaging one another’s feet!
- Read through the final talk that Jesus had with His disciples. Consider His instructions to love one another. Take some grapes and discuss how He is the “vine” and we are “branches” connected to Him.
- Taste the last supper! Look at Passover meal ideas and history. Try horseradish, unleavened bread, or even lamb.
- Experience a garden prayer. Go outside, especially in the evening, to pray.
- Look at some facts regarding crucifixion in Roman times. It can be a sobering and insightful topic to explore.
- Watch a movie, or clips of movies, about the life of Christ, especially the Last Supper or Crucifixion (The Gospel of John is a good one).
Prepare students to dive into some of the Biblical specifics in these stories. It can be challenging, even for older students, to comprehend why Jesus had to die. Exploring the final events of His life can offer insight into the significance of His sacrifice.
Ask: How do you prepare when you know something hard is going to happen? What is a time or event that has been especially difficult for you?
The Last Supper Bible Lesson for Youth Group Ministry
Bible Lesson: Jesus’ Last Supper and Good Friday
Middle and high school students work well with a variety of reading methods. Some might prefer to read passages on their own and review what they understood from reading. Many, though, enjoy hearing verses read aloud and explained. Some students are happy to read out loud themselves, and “popcorn reading” can be a great way to keep them engaged with the text. However, students who wish to remain out of that limelight should not be forced to read.
Begin with the events of the Last Supper, setting the stage somewhat by explaining (or reiterating) the significance of the Jewish celebration of Passover. Jews recalled the deliverance from Egypt every year with a special feast, recounting the Israelites who were protected by the blood of sacrificial lambs. In this Passover, Jesus would announce that His blood would be spilled as the ultimate Passover lamb.
Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 During supper, when the devil had already put it 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 had come from God and was going back to God, 4 rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” 8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet,[a] but is completely clean. And you[ are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.” -John 13:1-11
If you haven’t already done the “foot washing” activity, now is a great opportunity to do so. You can also discuss what is happening in this passage. Emphasize what it meant that Jesus would do this. Foot-washing was the job of a servant. People in those days wore sandals, and streets were often dusty and dirty. Feet would be a nasty, gnarly mess! Upon entering a house, the servant would clean the feet of the guests so that the house would not become dirty. Jesus was cleaning the outside of His disciples’ feet, but soon His actions would make their insides clean, as well. He was also indicating that He came to be a servant, and was willing to do the work of the servant.
Ask: Why didn’t Peter think that Jesus should wash his feet? (He didn’t want Jesus to do such a menial task, and didn’t feel worthy of the Master doing such a thing for him.)
When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant[c] is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. 18 I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ 19 I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”
What is going on here? Jesus is emphasizing the kind of life He came to lead. He also wants the disciples to serve one another. Not only should they be serving in the circle of twelve (minus Judas), but Jesus wanted them to serve others as well.
Ask: What is a way that you can truly serve others? Does God still want us to sacrifice for one another?
Note: If time allows, discuss the institution of Communion as Jesus declared that His body and blood would be poured out for our sake. When we partake of Communion, we do it in remembrance of Him, contemplating our own faults and His sacrifice. (The Communion specifics do not appear in John, but can be found in Luke 22).
*Break here if you plan to separate this Bible study into two weeks of lessons in your student ministry.
Lead into the next segment of Holy Week, explaining what events brought Jesus to the crucifixion. Feel free to describe, read, or watch video depicting the prayer in Gethsemane, the arrest, and trial of Christ. If you have time, point out the significance that many events in these passages fulfill prophecies from long before Christ’s birth.
After His trial, Jesus was taken to a hill and crucified. It’s worth mentioning that this was a way that the Romans executed criminals. They made it a point to find a high place or a roadside where many people could see what was happening, so that they would be warned not to disobey the law themselves. The condemned would have a label placed on their crosses to let the world know what wrongs they had committed. For Jesus, even that title caused argument:
So they took Jesus, 17 and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. 19 Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20 Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. 21 So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.” -John 19:16-22
Why were the priests upset? Even now that they finally have what they’d wanted, the death of this upstart teacher, they’re still worried about what others will think. They don’t want anyone getting the idea that Jesus truly was their king, after all…but Pilate leaves the title.
When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, 24 so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says,
“They divided my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.”
So the soldiers did these things, 25 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. -John 19:23-27
Here is another reflection of ancient prophecy. From the cross, Jesus is doing things that had been spoken about many years prior. And the soldiers are also fulfilling prophetic words, though they don’t realize it. Now, who is watching this happen? Scripture does not tell us that all of the disciples were present at the crucifixion. In fact, we know many of them had already run away to hide. But John (the “disciple he loved”) was there, along with a trio of Marys. Jesus asks John to take care of his mother. In His final moments, He wants to make sure His family is provided for.
Ask: Why is it comforting that one of the last things Jesus did was make sure His mom would be looked after? (It shows He cares for each of us!)
After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” 29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. -John 19:28-30
Ask: What was “finished”?
Is this Jesus in despair, knowing His life is over? Was He done with the sour wine? Jesus is done. He has fulfilled what He came to Earth to do. His death conquered the power of sin, and made it possible for us to receive forgiveness. The people watching may not have understood this. They might just have looked upon a man delirious with pain and in the last gasps of life. But we know what was finished. The work was accomplished. The battle won…
Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. 32 So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. 33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. 35 He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. 36 For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” 37 And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.” -John 19:31-37
For clarification, it might be helpful to explain why the criminals had their legs broken. The Jews had specific rules for how to celebrate the Sabbath, and they had to prepare for it before sunset. Ironically, in order to practice their religious obligations, they wanted to hurry the execution process. By breaking the legs of a crucifixion victim, death would come more quickly, since the person could not push up to breathe. However, Jesus was already dead. To make sure of this, one of the soldiers jabbed Him with a spear (this wound will leave a scar that Thomas demands to see later).
Ask: How do you think you would you feel if you were watching Jesus die?
So Christ died. He endured agony and suffering, and at last died. His body was taken off of the cross, and a man named Joseph, who was a secret disciple, asked to help bury Him. Nicodemus helped in this process, and they laid His body in a tomb, rolling a huge stone over the entrance to prevent anyone from getting inside.
That’s it, isn’t it? Death, defeat, all hopes over? Well, fortunately, we know that is not quite the end of the story for Jesus, or for us. Allow kids to sit with the solemnity of these events. Easter is all the more joyful because Good Friday is so dark and painful. Consider the fact that this was all done for US, to conquer sin and death. Yes, the death of Jesus is tragic and sorrowful. But Easter Sunday is on the way…let us not lose hope.
Close with prayer. Thank God for the remarkable sacrifice of Jesus. Pray for mindfulness of the severity of that gift. Ask God for ways to serve others, just like Christ served us.