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The Compleat Easter

Aim: To persuade each child that Jesus is alive today, helping us through His Spirit to fulfil the Great Commission

Core Competency: Salvation By Grace

Objectives: The children will

  • Believe that Jesus is alive, just as He said
  • Enthusiastically share the gospel with their friends and family

Key Verse: Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." ( John 20:29 )

Story: "The First Easter " ( John 20-21 )

Materials Required:

  • Balloons
  • Candle
  • Matches
  • Towel (optional)

Eye on Science:

Advance Preparation:Prepare several water balloons and place them in a bowl. Let another Leader know that you will need their help at the end of the lesson.

During Class: Introduce todays story by telling (in your own words) about the motorcycle stolen in 1971 but recovered in 2006. Emphasize that what the owner thought was gone forever was suddenly and unexpectedly restored - just as what happens in our story today!

Tell the following story in your own words, emphasizing that each event is clearly discussed in the Bible. The emphasis of your storytelling should be that Jesus is alive, and He wants us to tell others.

Each gospel records different facts about those exciting but confusing days of the first Easter season. Some claim that the gospels contradict each other, but this is not the case - rather, the gospels give the viewpoints of different participants of the same momentous events. Although others are possible, here is one possible sequence of events that fit all of the facts related in the gospels. These events and the reactions of the participants are reasonable and normal, and the facts are well supported by hundreds of witnesses. Bible references are provides so that you can verify my storyline.

1.Mary and Mary Magdalene ( Mt 28:1 ) meet Salomi ( Mark 16:1 ) at the tomb of Jesus. They do not expect to find a risen Lord - instead, they bring spices to embalm His body for a very long entombment. ( Mark 16:1 )

2.They find the door to the tomb is open ( Mark 16:4 ). Mary Magdalene leaves the other women and runs to the disciples, intending to report that Jesus' body has been stolen ( John 20:2 ).

3.Mary and Salomi enter the tomb and see two angels in dazzling white clothes ( Luke 24:4 ). Startled, they bow ( Mark 16:5 ). The angel explains that Jesus has risen, and they must tell the disciples to hurry to Galilee where Jesus will meet them. ( Mark 16:7 )

4.At first, the women run in fear, afraid to tell anyone what they have seen ( Mark 16:8 ). However, they soon realize that if what the angel said is true, they must tell the disciples, and they change direction ( Mt 28:8 ).

5.Mary Magdalene informs the disciples that Jesus' body has been stolen ( John 20:2 ), then apparently begins a slow and mournful walk back toward the tomb, weeping uncontrollably.

6.The remaining women, rushing to tell the disciples, encounter Jesus ( Mt 28:8-9 ). They fall down and clasp His feet in worship. ( Mt 28:9 ). Jesus tells them not to be afraid, and reemphasizes the importance of telling the disciples to go to Galilee. ( Mt 28:10 ) (It is likely that they missed Mary Magdalene because they were approaching the hiding place of the disciples ( John 20:19 ) from a different direction, due to their initial panicked flight.)

7.The women reach the disciples and report that Jesus is alive! ( Mark 24:9 ) The disciples are depressed over the theft of Jesus' body, and refuse to believe the women. ( Mark 24:11 ) However, Peter and John decide to run to the tomb to see for themselves. ( John 20:3 )

8.John outruns Peter (and both probably whizzed past the still-grieving Mary Magdalene), and John stops outside the tomb. ( John 20:5 ) He is probably puzzled by the clothing in the tomb - why would someone remove Jesus' clothing before stealing the body??? Peter the Slower finally arrives and (true to form) impetuously pushes past John and enters the tomb. ( John 20:6 ) He too is puzzled. Finally, John enters the tomb with Peter and sees the head cloth, still folded possibly with the impression of Jesus' face still visible. Clearly, no one could have removed the body without disturbing the head cloth. John makes an amazing leap of faith - the only reasonable explanation is that Jesus IS alive! ( John 20:8 ) In doing so, he not only becomes the first disciple to believe in Jesus' resurrection, but the first person on earth to believe without having seen Jesus personally! ( John 20:29 ) It is also interesting that no individual appearance of Jesus to John is recorded in the Bible - one was not necessary, since he believed without seeing. Peter does not believe at this time ( Mark 24:12 ).

9.Peter and John leave the tomb, presumably to tell the rest of the disciples what they have seen. They undoubtedly again zip past the (still clueless) Mary Magdalene as she makes her way slowly toward the tomb, still convinced that Jesus' body has been stolen. The remaining disciples refuse to believe John, and return to their homes. ( John 20:10 )

10.Mary Magdalene finally reaches the tomb, and spends some significant time just crying. Finally she looks inside ( John 20:11 ). She sees the two angels ( John 20:12 ) but think they are men. They ask her why she is crying, and she tells them that her Lord's body has been stolen. ( John 20:13 ) As she turns her head to hide her tears, she blurrily sees another man standing behind her. ( John 20:14 ) Jesus also asks why she is crying, and assuming Him to be the gardener, she blurts out, "If you have taken him, tell me where He is and I will get Him!" ( John 20:15 ) Jesus responds with one word - "Mary" - and she immediately recognizes Him. ( John 20:16 , see John 10:4 ) She cries out "Rabonni" (meaning teacher) and apparently makes as if to hug Him, but He stops her and explains He has not yet returned to the Father. ( John 20:17 ) Implicit in this is the fact that a new, more intimate relationship has been born. Jesus will now indwell her and empower her to serve. Although still in bodily form, His humanity has now been superceded by His diety. Mary Magdalene reports her meeting with Jesus to the disciples, but they refused to believe her either ( Mark 16:10-11 )

11.Jesus later appears to Peter, to convince Him of the truth of the resurrection. ( Lk 24:34 , 1 Cor 15:5 ) Thus, Peter becomes the second disciple to believe that Jesus is alive, although only after seeing Him with his own eyes.

12.Jesus walks with two unnamed disciples on the road to Emmaus ( Luke 24:13-35 ), but God does not permit them to recognize Him. ( Luke 24:16 ) He explains why all things had to happen as they did. ( Luke 24:27 ) When the disciples reached their destination, they implore Him to join them at their house. ( Luke 24:29 ) At supper, He gives thanks and breaks bread - and His signature mannerism makes His identity apparent. ( Luke 24:31 ) The disciples are amazed ("Did not our hearts burn within us?" ( Luke 24:32 )), and become the third and fourth disciples to believe in the resurrection. ( Luke 24:34 ) They report their encounter to the remaining disciples, who still refused to believe. ( Mark 16:12-13 )

13.Jesus then appears to 10 of the disciples (sans Thomas), and gives them their first commissioning (since His resurrection) as evangelists. ( John 20:19-23 ) However, Thomas refuses to believe the other ten, stating he will only believe if he can touch the nail prints and thrust his hand into His side. ( John 20:24-25 )

14.Jesus then appears to all eleven disciples (sometimes called "The Eleven" ( Luke 24:9 ), but often still called "The Twelve" ( John 20:24 ) - they would later replace Judas with Matthias ( Acts 1:21-26 )). Jesus offers Thomas the opportunity to touch His nail prints and thrust his hand into His side. Thomas responds with "My Lord and my God!" ( John 20:27 ) becoming the last disciple to believe in the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus also eats a piece of broiled fish at this time, which demonstrates that His body had been resurrected, not just His Spirit. ( Luke 24:42-43 ) Jesus upbraids them all for not believing the witnesses He had already provided them. ( Mark 16:14 ) He then opens their minds, so that they can understand the scriptures. ( Luke 24:45 )

15.The disciples wait in Galilee (I can't tell at what point, from 11 to 15, they arrive), and go fishing - after all, they have to eat! Their fishing is fruitless until a man on the distant shore tells them to change the net to the other side of the boat. Immediately the net is filled with fish, and John recognizes Jesus and tells Peter. ( John 21:7 ) Peter thinks, "This is a reprise of the first time we met Jesus!!!" He leaves the rest of the disciples to drag in the fish (gee, thanks!), and swims to shore to meet Jesus. ( John 21:8 ) It is after the fish fry that Jesus reinstates Peter, asking three times "Peter, do you love me?", and to Peter's response of "You know that I love you" His replies "Feed my sheep". ( John 21:15-19 )

16.Jesus subsequently appears to about 500 of a growing group of believers. ( 1 Cor 15:6 ) Some of these individuals undoubtedly live for many years after the destruction of Jerusalem (since they received Jesus' warnings ( Luke 23:28-31 )), into the dispersion of the Jews. Since Jewish Law states that a fact will be established by the testimony of 2 or 3 witnesses ( Deut 19:5 ), they serve as witnesses to new Christians in all parts of the world.

17.Jesus also holds a private meeting with His half-brother James ( Acts 12:17 , Gal 2:9 ), the details of which are not recorded. However, James becomes the head of the church in Jerusalem, which is the center of Christianity until its destruction in 70 A.D.

18.He meets with The Twelve (and many others) on the Mount of Olives ( Acts 1:12 ) 40 days after Easter ( Acts 1:3 ), and issues the Great Commission. ( Acts 1:8 , Matt 28:16-20 ). He then ascends into heaven in their sight. ( Acts 1:9 , Luke 24:51 ) The disciples continue to stare into the clouds for some time, until those two angels appear yet again (they really get around!), and promise them that Jesus will return in the same way he left. ( Acts 1:10-11 ) Their implication is clear - "Stop staring into space and get to work - you've been commissioned! You have much work to do! Shoo!!" The disciples obey Jesus, first by returning to Jerusalem and praising God in the temple ( Luke 24:52-53 ), and after receiving the Holy Spirit ( Acts 2:3 ) by spreading the gospel to all nations. Jesus confirms their message with additional signs to establish the truth of the gospel. ( Mark 16:20 )

19.Finally, Jesus appears to Saul of Tarsus ( Acts 9 ) after His ascension into heaven. In so doing, He commissions Saul (later Paul) to become the apostle to the Gentiles, in the same way that Matthew et. al. are Apostles to the Jews ( Gal 2:7-8 ). For this reason, Paul refers to himself as one "abnormally born". ( 1 Cor 15:8 )

We too have been given the Great Commission - we are to be apostles just like Peter, Paul and Mary. But it's hard sometimes to stand up for Jesus in the face of ridicule by our friends or disapproval by teachers or coaches. (As you speak, inflate a balloon, then light the candle.) This balloon is a weak-willed person, and the candle is opposition to the gospel. The devil would like to see this happen. (Warn students sensistive to loud noises to cover their ears, then move the inflated balloon into the candle - it should instantly pop.)

Jesus didn't leave us to face this alone, however - we have a defense. I mean, what if that balloon had been filled with water... (Allow a pregnant pause for the idea to sink in.) Ms. Kendall, could you help me for a moment? (Have the co-leader sit in a chair in front of you. Hold the water balloon over his/her head, and slowly bring the candle toward it. Allow drama to build. If you have a towel, or better yet a small and a large towel, "remember" each one just before the candle hits the balloon. Finally, hold the candle under the water balloon for about 15 seconds, to allow a deep black soot mark to form. In theory, the water balloon will not burst. Show the black soot mark to the children.)

The water balloon didn't pop because the water keeps the rubber cool so that it won't melt. In the same way, Jesus promised a Counselor - the Holy Spirit - to help you when persecuted ( John 14:16 ). This is where the disciples received the power to spread the gospel across the Roman empire despite persecution ( 2 Corinthians 4:7 ). And this is where you are to receive power to spread the gospel across your school, your neighborhood, your clubs, and your sports teams.

Application: Jesus is alive and well. Have you put your faith in Him? Are you relying on the Spirit for the power to fulfill the Great Commission? How will you make Jesus famous in your world this week?

Used: KIDZ 11/00 , BSFALL 11/00 , KIDZ 11/02 , BC 04/06

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