Night of Betrayal and Prayer


7_Night of Betrayal and PrayerScripture Reference:
Matthew 26:30-56

Suggested Emphasis: Even when friends disappoint us, we can talk to God.

Memory Verse:  God is our protection and our strength. He always helps in times of trouble. Psalm 46:1, ICB

Story Overview:

As the time of his death drew near, Jesus told his followers that they would soon lose faith and leave him.  Even as Jesus then prayed through the night, his closest followers fall asleep instead of keeping watch.  Afterwards, Judas leads an angry group to Jesus. Knowing his time has come, Jesus allows himself to be arrested.  Although his followers had been dismayed at Jesus’ earlier statement, they now did exactly as he had said.  They all left him and ran away.

Background Study:

Betrayal propelled the events leading up to the arrest and eventual crucifixion of Jesus.  The leading priests and Jewish elders were jealous of the crowds following Jesus and therefore planned to set a trap for him when the time was right (Matthew 26:3-6).

Even as these men plotted, one of the twelve apostles, Judas Iscariot, approached them and offered to turn Jesus over to them for thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26:14-16).  It was Judas who first brought up the subject of payment.  We know Judas had a problem with money and had already been stealing from the accounts he kept for the disciples (John 12:4-6).

This plotting had gone on even before the Last Supper was shared by Jesus and his followers.  Jesus knew that Judas would betray him but he also knew that his other followers would also be tested in their own way.  When the group left the supper and made their way to the Mount of Olives, Jesus shocked his followers by saying that their faith would waver and they would leave him.  Peter, in particular, was horrified by the thought of this. “All the other followers may lose their faith,” he told Jesus, “but I will never lose my faith.” Jesus made it clear when he said Peter would deny him three times before the rooster crowed (Matthew 26:33-35).  Of course, Jesus is correct.  This is covered in the lesson The Trial of Jesus.

Jesus knew that his death was fast approaching and that he would face it alone.  He was filled with deep sorrow and pain.  Others would leave him but he knew he could turn to his Father in what was about to be his darkest hour.  Jesus spent the next hours in prayer. He poured his heart out to God.  He genuinely did not want to go through the emotional anguish and physical suffering he was about to experience.  Even so, he totally submitted to God’s will.

He prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this painful thing to be taken from me, and if I must do it, then I pray that what you want will be done.”  Matthew 26:42

Even as Jesus was pouring out his heart to God in prayer, that night, his followers were letting him down.  He had asked Peter, James and John to stand watch while he prayed but they fell asleep.  Jesus woke them three different times as he continued to pray.

In the darkness, Judas arrived on the scene along with a group of people carrying swords and clubs.  Judas identified Jesus using the agreed-upon signal of a kiss. Kissing a teacher (rabbi) was a common greeting from a student but Jesus knew what this kiss meant.

Peter rashly tries to defend Jesus by striking the servant of the High Priest with a sword and cutting his ear. Jesus put a stop to this right away. Jesus could have called upon every power in the universe if he had wanted to defend himself.  Jesus was not arrested because he could not defend himself.  He was arrested because he was submitting to God’s will that he go to the cross.

Events happened just as Jesus said they would.  Sadly, as Jesus was being taken away, all of his followers ran away.

Way to Introduce the Story:

Ask the children to share the names of their friends.  Discuss how their friends help them and how they help their friends.  Ask, “if you were hurting, would your friends help you?”

In today’s lesson, we are going to learn about a time when Jesus was hurting.  Let’s find out what Jesus’ friends did.

The Story:

Judas Iscariot was one of the twelve disciples of Jesus. He followed Jesus and listened to the things Jesus preached. Judas was Jesus’ friend at first, but then he decided he did not want to be Jesus’ friend. In fact, he decided he would do something very bad to Jesus.

There were some other people that did not like Jesus. These men were leaders of God’s people, but they were not good leaders. They did not like that people listened to Jesus instead of them. They hated Jesus. They hated him so much that they wanted to kill him.

Judas went to these Jewish leaders to make a plan to hurt Jesus. “If you pay me thirty pieces of silver,” Judas told them, “I will show you where Jesus is”.

When someone gives information to an enemy that causes their own friend to be in danger or get hurt, that is called BETRAYAL.  So, for thirty pieces of silver, Judas “betrayed” Jesus.

Of course, Jesus knows what will happen even before it happens. He knew that Judas was going to betray him.

Jesus also knew something else.  He knew that he was going to die on the cross soon.

When Jesus was with his followers he told them something shocking.  He told them that very soon ALL of them would leave him and that he would be alone.  When he really needed friends, they would lose their faith.

What? How could this be?  His followers loved Jesus.  They said they loved him so much that they would even die for him. Peter even said, “All the other followers may lose their faith, but I will never lose my faith.”

But Jesus knew the future and he knew it was true.  Jesus looked at Peter and said, “Peter, you will leave me. You will deny me three times before the rooster crows in the morning.” Peter was so sad.

After this, Jesus and the disciples left and went to a place called Gethsemane.  It was in a place where olive trees grew.

Jesus was filled with sadness and wanted to pray to God. Even though his friends would leave him he knew God was his very best friend.  He could always talk to God.

Jesus asked Peter, James and John to come with him. When they got to a place where they could be alone, Jesus told Peter, James and John to wait and stand guard while he prayed by himself. “You should pray too,” Jesus said. “Bad things are going to happen and you will need courage to be good and do the right thing.”

Jesus prayed to God. He asked God to help him do the right thing. “I do not want to suffer and die on the cross, but I will do it if you want me to do it.” Jesus did not have to get his own way.  He wanted to do things God’s way.

Jesus went back to his friends. They were not praying like he had told them to. Guess what they were doing instead? They were sleeping. Jesus told them to wake up.

Jesus went back and prayed two more times. Each time he told God that he would do what God wanted him to do.  And each time he came back he found Peter, James and John sleeping.

The last time Jesus told them to wake up because a crowd of people were coming with clubs and swords. Guess who was leading the crowd of people? It was Judas. He was bringing the people to arrest Jesus.

“How will we know which man to arrest?” the people in the crowd asked Judas.

“Jesus is my teacher. Just watch,” Judas said. “I will kiss Jesus. Then you will know which one to arrest” So Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss on the cheek.

The men with the clubs and swords arrested Jesus and started to take him away. Peter was very upset. He couldn’t believe they were going to arrest Jesus. Jesus had never done anything wrong! Peter pulled out a sword and tried to protect Jesus. He cut off the ear of the servant of one of the Jewish leaders.

Jesus told Peter to stop fighting. Of course, if Jesus had wanted to, he could have called up all of the power in the universe to stop the arrest.  But Jesus knew that being arrested was what God wanted. Jesus allowed himself to be arrested without even trying to get away.

Do you remember when Jesus said all of his followers would run away and leave him alone?  That is exactly what happened.  They all ran away so they would not get arrested.

Jesus had known what would happen all along.


Ways to Tell the Story:

This story can be told using a variety of methods.  Always remain true to the facts found in the Bible but help children connect to its meaning by using drama, visual aids, voice inflection, student interaction and/or emotion.
Click here for visual aids and story-telling methods.

Click here to download these illustrations and slideshow.  Be selective.  Each teacher is unique, so only use the illustrations that best relate to how YOU tell the story in THIS lesson. Too many illustrations can be confusing, so eliminate any that cover other stories or details you do not wish to emphasise in this lesson.

Review Questions:

  1. Who betrayed Jesus to the Jews? Judas
  2. What did Jesus do in the Garden of Gethsemane? Pray
  3. Three apostles were supposed to keep watch while Jesus prayed. What did they do instead? Sleep

Song Suggestions:

Learning Activities and Crafts:

(How to choose the best learning activities for my teaching situation)


  • Ask a member of the congregation’s prayer ministry to visit the class and talk to the children about what this ministry does.
  • Discuss situations where the children might need the courage to help their friends. Have a chain prayer. Everyone sits in a circle and joins hands. Begin the prayer by asking God to give you the courage to do something. Squeeze the hand of the child next to you, and that is their cue to pray next. Each child prays in turn. You can finish the prayer.
  • Stories about the Death, Burial and Resurrection of Jesus:
  • This story is part of a bigger story about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.  A simple way to tell the story is to open plastic Easter Eggs one at a time.  Each egg reveals something about the story.  If you are telling the stories about the death, burial and resurrection over a few weeks why not try repeating this method every week.  The children will really know the story after this!  Click here to learn how to do it.


  • Prayer Chain: Write specific prayer requests on small rectangular slips of paper. Staple the ends of the papers together to form links of a chain. Connect the links to form a chain of prayer requests. The children can take these home and hang them somewhere in their room to help them remember what to pray for. More ideas for teaching prayer at Prayer in Bible Class
  • This story is part of a bigger story about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. A simple way to tell the story is to open plastic Easter Eggs one at a time.  Each egg reveals something about the story.  If you tell stories about the death, burial and resurrection over a few weeks, you might try repeating this method weekly.  The children will really know the story after this!  Click here to learn how to do it.

Other Stories about the Death, Burial and Resurrection of Jesus:

Check the Teaching Ideas page on this website for ideas that are adaptable to any lesson.

Link to full list of printablesClick here for “Night of Betrayal and Prayer” printables to print on A4 size paper
Click here for “Night of Betrayal and Prayer” to print on Letter size paper (USA)


Other Online Resources:


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