The Spirit Is Willing, But the Body Is Weak (LESSON)



30 minutes



This reenacts the last hours of Jesus life before His crucifixion all the way through to His death and burial.  Everyone (even Peter) abandoned Jesus in His time of need, but Jesus went to the cross for us anyway.  They way He died, as much as the way He lived, is a testimony to Who He is.



  • John 18-19
  • Luke 23:34
  • Hebrews 4:12
  • Ephesians 6:17



  • The following supporting materials can be found at www.teachingthem.comon the Lesson and Material Downloads page.
    • “Spirit Is Willing, But Body Is Weak – Script Cards” (This is a document with all Peter’s and Jesus’ line on it to help them during the drama.)
  • Long table that sits close to the floor (If you don’t have one like this, you can use a folding table.  Just don’t open the legs, and set the table top on a few bricks to raise it about a foot off the ground.  This will more closely resemble the type of table Jesus and his disciples ate at.)
  • Plates, cups, pitchers, fake food (anything to dress up the table for the Passover meal)
  • Costume for Jesus character – recommend a long piece of fabric with a hole cut in the middle for his head to fit through.  Add a belt around the waist and maybe a sash to drape over one shoulder and under one arm.
  • Costume for Peter character – recommend a long piece of fabric with a hole cut in the middle for his head to fit through and a belt around the waist.  He will need a sword to cut off Malchus’ ear.
  • Rope to tie up Jesus
  • Cross for Jesus to carry (It can be made of wood or cardboard or whatever else you can think of.)
  • Strips of cloth to wrap Jesus’ body for burial.
  • OPTIONAL – if you want to decorate or designate portions of the room as The Upper Room, The Garden of Gethsemane, Golgotha, Pilate’s judgment seat, the tomb in the garden, it might add some realism to the story.
  • Bible


  • Print the document mentioned above and cut out the lines for both Jesus and peter to say.  (Optionally, you could write these lines for Jesus and Peter to say on notecards:
    • Jesus: One of you is going to betray me.
    • Jesus: It is the one I pass the piece of bread to after I dip it in the bowl.
    • Jesus: It important for you to show love for each other.
    • Peter: Master, where are you going?
    • Jesus: Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.
    • Peter: Lord, why can’t I follow you now?  I will lay down my life for you!
    • Jesus: Will you really lay down your life for me?  I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will deny you know me three times!
    • Jesus: Couldn’t you stay awake to pray?  The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.
    • Jesus: Put your sword away.
    • Peter: No! Not me!
    • Peter: I told you, I’m not one of them!
    • Peter: Blankety-blank-blank-blank!  I do NOT know the man!
    • Jesus: You are right in saying I am.
    • Jesus: Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.
    • Jesus: It is finished.
    • Jesus: Father, into Your hands I commit my Spirit.)
  • Select your volunteer to play Jesus (you may want to choose an adult because of the lines he needs to say), and explain what you want him to do.  Dress him in his costume, and have him wait off-stage or out of sight.  Give him the script with his lines on them.
  • Select your volunteer to play Peter (you may want to choose an adult because of the lines he needs to say), and explain what you want him to do.  Dress him in his costume, and have him wait off-stage or out of sight.  Give him the script with his lines on them.
  • Ask a volunteer to make the sound of a cock crowing when you give the signal.
  • Practice the script.



Use the following script, or modify to suit your needs:

  • “Today, I’m going to share the saddest part of the story about Jesus.”
  • “It was Thursday night, and Jesus was having His very last meal with His disciples before going to the cross.”  (Have person playing Jesus and twelve volunteers come up and sit around table.  Tell them to act out whatever you say during the story.)
  • “Everyone could tell that something was wrong, but they didn’t understand what was happening, so they were very sad but didn’t know why.”
  • “At one point during dinner, Jesus said…” (Have Jesus character say: “One of you is going to betray me.”)
  • “They all asked, “Is it me?  Who is it?” (Have volunteers act this out.)
  • “Jesus said…” (Jesus: “It is the one I pass the piece of bread to after I dip it in the bowl.”)
  • “Then He dipped the bread and passed it to Judas.” (Have Jesus character pretend to dip some break into a bowl and then pass it to one of the volunteers at the table.)
  • “After Judas took the bread, Satan entered him, and he left to go get the priests’ soldiers.”  (The volunteer who Jesus passed the bread to goes back to his seat.)
  • “You see, Judas had already told the religious leaders (the Pharisees and the teachers of the law) that he would give Jesus to them for 30 pieces of silver.”
  • “Jesus stayed with the other disciples and said… (Jesus: “It important for you to show love for each other.”)
  • “Peter got worried and asked…” (Peter: Master, where are you going?”
  • “Jesus told him…” (Jesus: “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.”)
  • “Does anyone know where Jesus is talking about going?”  (Expected response: “Heaven”)
  • “Right, He’s going to heaven, and it’s not time for His friends to follow Him yet.”
  • “But Peter didn’t want to accept that Jesus was leaving, so he said…” (Peter: “Lord, why can’t I follow you now?  I will lay down my life for you.”)
  • “And Jesus said…” (Jesus: “Will you really lay down your life for me?  I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will deny you know me me three times!”)
  • “Peter didn’t believe it.  He thought that there was no way he could ever turn his back on his Lord and friend.”
  • “And he probably thought to himself, ‘Not a chance!  I’ll be the most faithful of all the disciples.  If anyone tries to hurt my master, I’ll use my sword and teach them a lesson.’”
  • “Dinner was pretty much over at that point.”
  • “Jesus took everyone and went to the Garden of Gethsemane, which was an olive grove.”
  • “He was terribly sad, because He knew what was going to happen.”
  • “So He took just Peter, James and John deeper into the garden pray.” (Have Jesus, James, John and Peter go to a place in the room that can represent the Garden of Gethsemane.  Jesus should go a little bit further than the others to pray.)
  • “Jesus asked Peter, James and John to stay awake with Him and pray, but they kept falling asleep.”  (Have Peter, James and John act this out.)
  • “Three times, He asked them to pray with Him, and three times, He had to wake them up.”  (Have Jesus go back and forth from His praying spot to ask the disciples to stay awake and pray.  Do this three times.  Jesus says: “Couldn’t you stay awake to pray?  The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”)
  • “Peter thought he was willing to lay down his life for Jesus, but he couldn’t even stay awake to pray for the Lord.”
  • “After Jesus woke them the third time, Judas arrived with the soldiers and kissed Jesus on the cheek as a signal to the men.”  (Have volunteer who played Judas grab a few other people who can pretend to be soldiers.  Judas can just pretend to kiss Jesus if he wants.)
  • “Peter, probably embarrassed that he had been sleeping and allowed the soldiers to sneak up on them, grabbed his sword and swung wildly, cutting off the ear of a servant named Malchus.” (Have Peter act this out with one of the volunteers that came up with the Judas character.  The person who “gets his ear cut off” should cover it up and pretend to be in pain until Jesus heals him.)
  • “But Jesus said…” (Jesus: “Put your sword away.”)
  • “Then Jesus healed the man’s ear.” (Have Jesus character act this out.)
  • “You see, Peter brought the wrong sword to this battle.”
  • “He was trying to fight with a physical sword, but he should have been fighting with the Sword of the Spirit.”  (Hold up Bible.)
  • “The Bible says that Word of God is like a very sharp, two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12) and that it’s part of the full armor of God. (Ephesians 6:17)”
  • “You can use God’s Word to defend against the work of Satan, and you can use it to attack Satan and save people from him.”
  • “So, it’s best to sharpen your sword every day by reading and memorizing Scriptures from the Bible.”
  • “After cutting off Malchus’ ear, Peter and all the others were terrified and ran away.” (Have all the disciple volunteers run away and take their seats.)
  • “One was so scared that when the guards grabbed his clothes, he ran off naked!” (The Drama Team should NOT act this out!)
  • “Jesus was left alone with the guards.  They tied him up and took Him with them to the Pharisees and the Sadducees, where they put Him on trial.” (Have the guard volunteers act this out.)
  • “They tried to convict Jesus of doing bad things, but they couldn’t find anything that He had done that was illegal.”
  • “So they had people lie about Him, but even those men couldn’t get their stories straight.”
  • “While Jesus was being tried, Peter was out in the courtyard warming himself by a fire.” (Have Peter character act this out.)
  • “Peter was afraid, but he couldn’t keep himself away.”
  • “A servant girl recognized him and said, ‘Aren’t you one of his followers?’”
  • “Peter denied it.”  (Peter: “No! Not me!”)
  • “Then another person saw him and said, ‘You sound like a Galilean.  Aren’t you one of them?’”
  • “Peter denied it a second time.” (Peter: “I told you, I’m not one of them!”)
  • “Finally, a third time, another girl said, ‘This man is definitely one of them!’”
  • “Peter began to curse and swear that he didn’t know Jesus.” (Peter: “Blankety-blank-blank-blank!  I do NOT know the man!”)
  • “At just that moment, they were leading Jesus from one place to another.”
  • “A cock crowed, and Jesus looked Peter in the eyes.”  (Have your volunteer make the sound of a cock crowing while your Jesus and Peter characters make eye contact.)
  • “Peter immediately recognized what he had done.”
  • “He had denied knowing Jesus three times!”
  • “He had abandoned his friend and Lord even though he had said that he would lay down his life for Jesus.”
  • “Peter couldn’t avoid the truth.  He was a big phony.”
  • “He wasn’t as brave as he wanted everyone to believe.”
  • “He wasn’t Jesus’ most loyal follower.”
  • “He wasn’t going to be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven like he always argued he would be with the other disciples.”
  • “For all his boasting, when the time came for Peter to stand up for his Lord and Master, he was too afraid.”
  • “Peter broke down into tears and ran away.” (Have Peter character act this out.)
  • “He found a corner somewhere and wept bitterly, realizing he deserved neither the name Simon (“listens and obeys”) nor the name Peter (“rock”).”  (Have Peter character act this out.)
  • “Jesus was tried three times by the Jewish leaders, but they couldn’t find anything that He had done wrong.”
  • “Finally, they asked Jesus, ‘Are you then the Son of God?’”
  • “Jesus replied…”  (Jesus: “You are right in saying I am.”)
  • “This was what they were looking for!”
  • “Jesus was claiming to be equal to God!”
  • “They said, ‘Who needs witnesses?  You’ve heard yourself, he’s guilty of blasphemy!’ (which means saying something terrible about God)”
  • “They beat Him, spit on Him and made fun of Him.”
  • “Then, they took Him to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor.” (Have the guard volunteers lead Jesus to another part of the room, and get a new volunteer to stand and act like Pilate.)
  • “There, he was tried three more times and found “not guilty” each time.”
  • “But because Pontius Pilate was afraid of a riot from the crowd, he turned Jesus over to the soldiers to be beaten and crucified.”
  • “Even though Jesus had been beaten and whipped, they made Him carry his own cross up the hill.” (Give Jesus character the cross, and have him carry it around the room toward a place that can represent Golgotha.)
  • “At one point, He was too weak to carry it any further, and they made a man in the crowd named Simon pick it up and carry it.”  (Grab a volunteer from the audience, and give him the cross to carry the rest of the way.)
  • “Did you catch that?”
  • “This guy’s name was Simon, too, but it was the wrong Simon.”
  • “It wasn’t Simon-Peter who helped Jesus up the hill.”
  • “It was another Simon, who just happened to be passing by at the time.”
  • “Once again, Peter isn’t where he was supposed to be.”
  • “During the times of Jesus’ greatest need, Peter is no where to be found, even though he said he would never abandon his Lord.”
  • “Around 9a that morning, Jesus was nailed to the cross.” (Have volunteers act this out.)
  • “What I find amazing about Jesus is that while they were nailing his hands and his feet to the cross, he said…” (Jesus: “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”)
  • “Jesus even loved those who were killing Him.”
  • “Touch your neighbor and say, ‘Only God can do that!’”
  • “At noon, there was an earthquake, and amazingly, dead people came to life and started walking around and talking to others.”
  • “The sun went dark and stayed dark for the next three hours.”
  • “At the end of that time, Jesus said…” (Jesus: “It is finished.” And then “Father, into Your hands I commit my Spirit.”)
  • “Then He died.”
  • “It was so amazing the way Jesus died that the Roman centurion, a man who had seen many men die, said, ‘Surely, this was the son of God.””
  • “He had never seen someone choose when to die, but Jesus did.”
  • “The Jewish leaders had asked Pilate to take the bodies off the crosses, so Pilate told the soldiers to make the crucified men die faster.”
  • “They did this by breaking the men’s legs so that they couldn’t push themselves up on the cross to get a breath.”  (Optional additional information you could share: Dying on a cross is really dying by drowning, because the men’s lungs were filling with fluid.)
  • “The soldiers broke the legs of the two thieves, but when they came to Jesus, they could tell that He was already dead.”
  • “Just to be sure, though, they stuck a spear into His side.  Then they were sure that He was dead.”
  • “Some of Jesus’ followers asked if they could take Him off the cross, and Pilate let them.”
  • “They took Jesus’ body to a cave in a garden and wrapped His body with strips of cloth.” (Have a few volunteers act this out with the Jesus character.)
  • “Then, they rolled a giant stone in front of the cave and left.”
  • “It was Friday night, and Jewish law required them not to do any activities until Saturday night, so they had to get home quickly.”
  • “Because the Jewish leaders were afraid that Jesus’ followers might try to steal his body, they had Pilate seal the tomb and put a guard of Roman soldiers outside.”
  • “Everyone abandoned Jesus – even His best friends and most loyal followers.”
  • “Judas betrayed Him for 30 pieces of silver, all the disciples ran away when the soldiers came, and Peter denied that he even knew Jesus.”
  • “But you know what? Jesus still loved every one of them.”
  • “He knew that they would leave Him before He even chose them to be His friends.”
  • “He knew that their spirits were willing to follow Him even if it meant they would die, but their bodies were weak, and they couldn’t find the courage to stand with Him in His time of need.”
  • “He knew that He would have to go to the cross alone, but He did it anyway – because He loved them and because He loves you.”
  • “The best part of the story is yet to come!  We will cover that next time!”  (If you are not meeting with this group regularly, you probably should finish the story and continue through Jesus’ resurrection and what it means for all of us.  You can find it in the lesson, “Rest of the Story, The (LESSON)” on the Lesson and Material Downloads page at  You can use the Rhyme Time below to reinforce the teaching point.)


Rhyme Time

Sometimes our spirit is willing

But our bodies are weak.

Jesus forgives us

And gives the courage we seek.


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Filed under Jesus, Judas, Peter

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