Lesson #3: Our Savior
I borrowed some ideas from this post for this lesson. Normally, I would think one activity is enough, but since the atonement is so multi-faceted and so imperfectly explained by any single idea, I’d suggest doing all of these and explaining that there are many ways of understanding the atonement, and some of it that we don’t understand.
–On a piece of cardboard or stiff paper, draw a square in one corner and label it “start.” Draw a square in the opposite corner and label it “finish.” Across the middle, make a big, thick, gooey streak of paint or mud or pudding.
Explain to your kids that their goal is to “finger walk” from start to finish. They are not allowed to lift up both fingers at the same time. After they begin, explain one other rule: they can’t enter “finish” if their fingers are dirty and they have no way to clean their fingers themselves. Let them discover that this is not a possible task. Then, whip out the diaper wipes and offer to clean off their fingers after they have crossed the goo.
Explain that the game is like life: our goal is to “finish” in the presence of God, but part of life involves getting our fingers dirty with sin. But we can’t clean our fingers ourselves or get rid of our own sins. Jesus Christ is the only one with the power to cleanse us from our sins. Because of Him, we can re-enter the presence of God.
–You will need to make “certificates of debt” for this activity. They could be simple or elaborate, but they need to contain the phrase “you owe [whatever amount of money].” You will also need real or fake money.
Explain that when we sin, it is like we are getting in debt. Ask the kids to name some common sins and, when they do, hand them a debt card. Explain that we have no way to get out of this debt, but, because of the atonement, Jesus has an infinite amount of money, so he can repay our debts.
–On a multitude of slips of paper, write things such as:
“You sin by yelling at your mother. There is a consequence for this sin.”
“You sin by stealing a piece of gum at the checkout counter. There is a consequence for this sin.”
“You sin by deciding not to pay tithing. There is a consequence for this sin.”
Fold up papers, put in container. Have family members take turns selecting papers and reading them out loud. Then gather up the papers and explain that, in performing the atonement, Jesus accepted all of the consequences of our sins, if we are willing to repent.
–You will need blocks or legos for this activity. Build a bridge. Put a family picture on one end and a picture of heaven (might be fun to have your kids draw these . . .) on the other.
Explain that because we sin, the bridge becomes broken. We can’t return to heaven in our sins. We also can’t build the rebuild the bridge ourselves. But Jesus can. Describe the atonement as you rebuild the bridge. Because of the atonement, it is possible for our families to return to heaven.