Even grownups don’t often “get it” about what Easter means. Terms like “sacrifice for sin” and “blood of Christ” can sound intimidating, old fashioned and even not appropriate for children. There are ways to sidestep scary terminology without forfeiting understanding. This Bible object lesson using the Jesus Glass to take away our sin ought to make things more clear.
Bible Object Lesson: The Jesus Glass
Household object needed: 4 matching drinking glasses (should be clear)
- 4 drinking glasses
- Large jug or pitcher of water
- Balsamic vinegar
- Masking tape
- Marker pen
1. Fill the drinking glasses with a couple inches of water and put all your materials on the table.
2. Put a piece of masking tape on each drinking glass and write the names ANDREW, BETHANY, CARL and JESUS in marker pen, one on each glass.
(teacher prompts in italics)
Around Easter especially, you will hear the expression, “Jesus died on the cross as a sacrifice for our sin.” At first, it sounds like some dark and scary concept that we would rather not think about. But that’s only because it hasn’t been explained.
Call on a student and ask him to think of a time that somebody did a hurtful thing to him—stole something from him, called him a bad name, got friends to turn on him, gossiped about him. Don’t ask for a name and discourage names.
This person who hurt [your student], we’ll call him “Andrew”. Let’s pretend that this glass is Andrew.
Talk to the glass. “Hi, Andrew! How are you?”
Imitate the glass talking back to you by picking it up and jostling it a little (don’t spill the water). “I don’t know…I feel kind of…all weird inside.”
Take up the balsamic vinegar. Andrew, maybe that has to do with how you hurt [your student]. Doing hurtful things doesn’t help us. Maybe now you feel guilt.
Dump a few drops of balsamic vinegar into the water. Or worse, maybe you don’t feel guilt! Maybe you’ve done something like this so many times that now you can’t feel it when you hurt others. Dump in a bunch more drops.
Maybe you’ve been hurt in your past, and you felt that gave you the right to make others feel that way. Instead of saying, “Ew, that felt terrible…I don’t want to make anyone else feel that way…” Maybe you felt…”I guess it’s okay to make others feel that way too, ha!” Dump in some more vinegar drops.
Ew, poor Andrew! Look at you now!
Andrew, did you know that when you hurt, and you respond by hurting others, that you’re multiplying that hurt?
Pour some of the disgusting balsamic water from Andrew into the Bethany and Carl glasses so that they’re all a little dark.
You might feel a little less dark for a while, but it’s a funny thing. Once you do something wrong, it’s easier to do that wrong thing next time.
Spill in more drops.
And the next time. Spill in more drops.
And the next time, until your heart is hardened and you don’t feel guilt anymore. It makes you feel, well, if that wrong thing doesn’t feel so wrong, neither will this wrong thing. Spill in more drops.
And before you know it, Andrew, you’ve done a lot of wrong things! You’re just as dark as ever, and you’re passing along your darkness to others…
Fill the other glasses a bit from Andrew’s glass again.
Boy, we’ve got a real mess, here, don’t we? We started off with being clear and free from our wrongdoings and the wrong doings of others. Now, we’re all dirty and gross and nobody would want to hang out with us unless they’re dirty and gross too.
Bring over the clear Jesus glass.
Here’s where Jesus comes in. He was a carpenter in Nazareth. He looked the same as us. But Jesus was different. Jesus got mocked and taunted and teased a lot in his life, especially by the popular people, which everyone thought were so important.
But he refused to hurt them back. He refused to pass the sin on. He stayed “clear.”
And here’s a really important thing. During his ministry, Jesus made claims that no one else did.
Take hold of the Andrew and Bethany glasses. Shake Andrew a little to imitate him talking:
“I’m Andrew. And I’m going to forgive you, Bethany, for this one bad thing you did to me.” That sounds nice—forgiving someone. And it’s logical, right? We should forgive others. Allow students to agree.
Let go of Bethany and take up Carl. Shake up Carl a little bit.
“I, Carl, am going to forgive you, Bethany, for this one bad thing you did to me.” Again, that sounds nice and logical, right? Allow students to agree.
Now, how about this one? Shake Carl again.
“I, Carl, am going to forgive Andrew …for what Andrew did to Bethany.”
Bring all three glasses together. Does that make sense? How can Carl forgive Andrew… for something Andrew did to Bethany… and not to Carl himself?
Let’s say that Andrew stole from Bethany and it made Bethany very sad. How can Carl forgive Andrew for stealing from Bethany? That’s weird.
Is it any of Carl’s business what Andrew did to Bethany? No.
If Carl were making such a claim, that he could forgive sins that didn’t happen to him, what might that tell us about Carl? Is he crazy? Maybe.
Is he a stupid, arrogant liar, who is trying to make himself out to be more important than us? Probably.
Let go of Carl and Andrew and Bethany and bring over Jesus, the clear glass.
That’s what some people thought about Jesus. He looked like the rest of us on the outside. Yet he was claiming to have the power to forgive Andrew for what Andrew did to Bethany and to forgive Bethany for anything she did to Carl. And to forgive Carl for whatever he did…we’ve all done something. The bible says, “All have sinned; all fall short of the glory of God…except…”
Tap Jesus on the table.
Here’s another thing that’s special about Jesus. Most of us get “dirty and gross” because we do things that hurt others. Pour some water back and forth between Andrew and Bethany and Carl. Andrew lies to Carl, who steals from Bethany, who gossiped about Andrew to all the neighborhood kids, who gossiped about Carl…
Jesus never did those things. He never took anyone’s sin on because he deserved it. And yet…
Slowly begin pouring the brown water into Jesus from each glass.
2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”… so that we might be able to get clean.
Hold up Jesus filled with the brown liquid.
At Jesus’ crucifixion on Good Friday, he was filled with the “mess” of everyone who would ever believe in him. That includes Andrew, Bethany, Carl, me, and all of YOU. But what does that mean? What does Jesus do with the wrongdoings?
Hand the Jesus glass to your assistant and tell her to go flush the brown stuff down the toilet and flush.
Psalm 103:12 says, “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” The famous missionary Corrie Ten Boom says, “He throws our sins into the depths of the sea, where there’s a sign that says, ‘no fishing allowed!”
Jesus takes away our grossness. He died on the cross so we could be clean again. Pick up the towel and show the students. Then, when he arose and ascended into heaven, he sent us the Holy Spirit. It’s kind of like this towel. It finishes the job that started with belief in Jesus…
Take up the Andrew, Bethany, and Carl glasses and wipe them clean with the towel. Fill them with fresh water.
We were designed to have a loving friendship with God. And when we get all dirty and gross with wrongdoings, it gets in the way. Jesus would do whatever it took to have that loving relationship with you… and one that lasts forever and ever.
Have your assistant return the glass and put all four together.
Jesus told his disciples in John 14:2, “In my father’s house are many mansions. I go and prepare a place for you. If it were not true, I would not have told you so.”
Let’s use Easter to remember that Jesus, while watching over us, is building a cool place, so that, when we keep relying on Him on earth to stay clean, we can be with him forever and ever in heaven!
I am so excited to share this Bible object lesson with you , and hope you are just as excited to try it with your students! Don’t forget to Follow Me on Twitter, where I will be sharing more great Bible object lessons and other ideas!
Be sure to check out our video presentation of the “Fizzy Faith” object lesson.