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ATM VBS Day 4 Older: Why Didn’t Jesus Save Himself? Bible Lesson


In A Nutshell

During day four of The Amazing Time Machine VBS, Junior Scientists are tasked with the mission of answering the question; Why didn’t Jesus save himself on the cross? By using an experiment with pennies, children see how the blood of Christ washes away their sins. This crucifixion Bible lesson is part of the The Amazing Time Machine VBS., but can also be used as a stand alone Bible lesson.

ATM VBS Day 4 Older: Why Didn’t Jesus Save Himself? Bible Lesson
ATM VBS Day 4 Older: Why Didn’t Jesus Save Himself? Bible Lesson
ATM VBS Day 4 Older: Why Didn’t Jesus Save Himself? Bible Lesson
ATM VBS Day 4 Older: Why Didn’t Jesus Save Himself? Bible Lesson


Elementary, Tweens

Estimated Time

20 minutes


Luke 23: 33-46

Memory Verse

... “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)

What You Will Need

  • Old-looking pennies
  • At least one shiny penny
  • Soap
  • Several large bowls of water
  • Paper towels
  • Clear plastic cups, one for each child
  • Vinegar
  • Table salt
  • Red food coloring
  • Sin Cards (See Downloads below).
  • Card stock
  • Scissors


  • Mix up a clear pitcher with white vinegar, salt and a few drops of red food coloring.
  • Print Sin Cards on card stock and cut out.

The Crucifixion Bible Skit

Actors: Narrator

Sign that reads: “Jerusalem”. The scene will be the crucifixion. It will be three crosses backlit through the sheet with an orange spotlight. See decorating ideas for Day 4.

You Will Need:

  • Sign that reads: “Jerusalem”.
  • Bible
  • Script for actors (See Downloads Below).

Script 1:
(Luke 23: 33-46)

When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”

The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews.

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.


  • Today’s trip back to Jerusalem was very sad. God sent Jesus to help us, but what happened to him?
  • How did the people around the cross treat Jesus? (They divided his clothes, they mocked him).
  • Did those people believe he was God’s son? (No).
  • As God’s son, could he have saved himself at any time? (Yes) Why didn’t he? (Because he was saving us).

Applying The Science: Jesus Washes Away Sin Experiment

Let’s pretend that these pennies are us. (Give each child an old-looking penny. Hold up the shiny penny). My penny is shiny and new. Look how clean and pretty it is. Your pennies look like they have been around awhile. Can anyone tell me the date their penny was made? Some of your pennies look pretty beat up. I bet they have been in a lot of pockets and purses. Hundreds of hands have held them and they have probably been dropped on the ground of few times.

Do the older pennies always look older? (No). So you could say that some pennies have had a harder life than others. These pennies are kind of like people. All people sin and their heart, instead of being all clean and white or shiny like a brand new penny, have become dirty like your pennies.

Let’s read God’s word. (Read Romans 3:23) “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. So the Bible says that all of us sin. Some people do really bad things like murder and hurting other people. Some people may lie or even cheat on a test. Let’s take a little test together. I will read a sin and you tell me if it is a big sin or a little sin. (Hold up the sin cards one by one and have the children decide if they are big or little sins. Put them in a stack according to the decision).

This stack has our big sins and this one our little sins. In which pile do your sins fall? Let’s reread our scripture. (Read Romans 3:23) “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Does it say that some sins are big and some small? (No). God doesn’t distinguish between big and small, there is just sin. (Put all the cards into one stack). Now, which stack are your sins in?

Let’s see if we can clean our pennies up a bit. (Set out the bowls of water, soap and paper towels and have the children wash their pennies).

How do they look? Do they look much better then before you washed them? (No)

Now we are going to try something special to clean our pennies. (Give each child a plastic cup to put their penny in. Fill each child’s cup with about 1/4” of the red solution).

Sin in a heart is like our dirty pennies. We tried washing them ourselves with soap and water and it didn’t help. That’s because we can’t make the sin go away ourselves.

Let’s read the Bible, to see what message God is trying to tell us. (Read John 1:29). On seeing Jesus, the prophet John the Baptist cried, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

Back in the Bible times, people sacrificed animals to God to gain his favor. When John the Baptist called Jesus the Lamb of God, he was calling him God’s sacrifice. Why was Jesus being sacrificed? (For the sin of the world).

At His death, Jesus cried out, “It is finished” (John 19:30b). What did Jesus mean? What “is finished?” (The debt of sin of all men).

Jesus finished paying the punishment for sin as the perfect Lamb of God. That was why God sent him. He came to pay the price for our sins. When he died on the cross, he washed away our sins with his blood. That is why he didn’t save himself when he was on the cross. As the son of God, he could easily have done that, but he didn’t. Jesus died to save us. He died to give us life, eternal life in heaven.

At Scientific Central tonight Phinneus wanted to go back in time to find out why Jesus didn’t save himself from dying a painful death on the cross. Why didn’t he? (Because he was saving you and me).


  • Who is God? (Our creator).
  • How do we become closer to God? (God will tell us what He wants us to do) through Bible, prayer and the world around us).
  • Who did God send to help us find our way back to Him? (God came himself as baby Jesus).
  • Why did some people not recognize Jesus for who he was. They were not looking and listening for God.
  • How did Jesus help us? (Jesus died for our sins so that we can be forgiven).


Dear God in Heaven,
We know that we aren’t perfect and at one time or another we have all sinned. Please forgive us for those sins. Thank you for sending Jesus to save us. To die on the cross for all of our sins so that one day we can find our way back to you.


About Jeff and Becky

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