Suggested Emphasis: Even though everything was bad, God made it good. He can do the same for us when things are bad.
Memory Verse: “Christ was raised from death. And we know that he cannot die again. Death has no power over him now.” Romans 6:9 ICB
Jesus was buried in a tomb, and on the third day, some women arrived and were shocked to find the tomb empty. Two angels appeared to explain that Jesus had risen from the dead. Jesus went on to appear to a number of people, including the disciples. Jesus had risen from death just like he said he would.
1 Corinthians chapter 15 is good to read for your own personal devotion time before you teach today’s lesson. The death of Christ was important, but without the resurrection, it has no meaning. Without the resurrection of Christ, our whole Christian life has no meaning. What an honour to teach the children this incredible lesson!
In Luke’s account of the burial and resurrection, he includes the beautiful story of Jesus encountering two followers on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35). There is much to cover about the burial and resurrection, so this section’s detail is not included in the notes or telling below. Eventually (as time allows), it will be added as an independent lesson on this website.
Each of the gospel writers mentions different details, so reading each one independently helps to see what each writer is emphasizing in telling the story of Jesus’ resurrection. The other versions of this event are found in the following:
Usually, those who had been crucified did not have the benefit of a decent burial. Sometimes the body was released to a very close relative like a mother. Usually, the remains were left unburied or, at best, put in a pauper’s field. Joseph of Arimathea was a member of the Sanhedrin but had not agreed with the other leaders when they had called for Jesus’ death. He was the one that sought permission to take Jesus’ body down from the cross and prepare it for burial.
According to Jewish custom, he would have used 30-75 pounds of myrrh and aloes between linen strips. After wrapping the body, he placed it in a tomb that was cut into a wall of rock.
Matthew and Mark mention the large stone that was rolled in front of the opening. Matthew also writes about the Jewish leaders approaching Pilate and convincing him that soldiers should guard the tomb so no one would steal the body. Pilate granted them what they wanted, but the plan backfired when the soldiers subsequently became witnesses to the resurrection. Later the guards had to be bribed to hide the truth (Matthew 28:11-15).
Early on Sunday morning, women came to tend the body of Jesus. They would have been able to buy spices and cloth after six the night before because that was the official end of the Sabbath. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was not in this group. Women had been among the followers of Jesus (Luke 8:2-3), and they had been at the cross (Mark 15:39-40).
When they arrived at the tomb, the women found the stone rolled away and no guards present. Looking inside the tomb, they saw that it was empty. Two men in shining clothes (referred to as angels in the other gospels) explained that Jesus had risen just as he said he would.
The women ran to tell the other disciples, but this seemed too incredible to believe. Peter ran to the tomb and looked in. He could only see the linen cloths that Jesus had been wrapped in. Peter wanted to understand what had happened but did not until later.
The risen Jesus appeared to two followers on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35). This very interesting event could easily be a lesson on its own.
After this he appeared to the remaining apostles (Luke 24:36-49). To help the apostles understand that he was actually alive, he showed them his hands and feet and invited them to touch him. He erased all doubt by asking for food and eating it in front of them. Ghosts do not do all of that.
Appearances mentioned in other accounts were:
- To Mary Magdalene outside the tomb (John 20:11-18).
- To the women who were on their way to see the apostles (Matthew 28:8-10).
- To Thomas separate from the other apostles (John 20:24-31).
Jesus eventually appeared to many people before he returned to heaven forty days after the resurrection (I Corinthians 15:3-8). Later, he made a special appearance to Paul on the road to Damascus (recorded in both Acts 9:1-19 and Acts 22:6-21).
A simple way to explain the overarching story of death, burial and resurrection of Jesus to children…
God created the whole world and wanted everyone to be happy and love him. Sadly, people make bad choices, which has made many bad things happen in this world. Sometimes people even die.
God was very sad that people had caused the earth to be so bad. Even though many people did not follow him, he still loved them. So God sent his son, Jesus, from heaven to earth to show everyone how to obey God and make good choices.
Many people did not believe in Jesus and got so angry that they made him die on a cross. But guess what!? Although he was dead, Jesus came alive again! Jesus showed that he is stronger than death and stronger than any bad thing that can ever happen.
Soon after he came back to life, the time came for Jesus to go to heaven to live with his Father again in heaven. Before Jesus left, he told his followers to be sure and tell other people the good news. The good news is that “Jesus died and then came alive again!”
God says that Jesus dying on the cross means people can change from bad to good. People who follow Jesus do not have to be afraid of dying. If you follow Jesus, you will also come alive again to live with God someday!”
Way to Introduce the Story:
Be sure to practice this one at home! You will need water, two clear tall drinking glasses, two identical medium-sized plastic buttons, and an unopened bottle or can of clear fizzy drink (like Sprite). Wash hands and clean all items. Fill each glass 2/3 full (one with water and the other with the fizzy drink). Drop one button into the glass of water and the other into the fizzy drink. Both will first sink to the bottoms of the glasses, but fizzy drink bubbles will collect underneath the button and make it float to the surface. (If the button has oil on it or the drink is not fizzy, this will not work.)
Before class, ask the children what will happen when you put the button in the glass. Drop the first button into the glass of water. “Remember how sad it was when Jesus died on the cross? Jesus’ friends thought that they would never see Jesus again. Everything seemed just to sink and get worse like this button.”
Sometimes we feel like Jesus’ friends. We think things are very bad and that they cannot change. But God is powerful. He can make things good even when they seem very bad. God can do things that are impossible! God makes things happen like this button (Drop the second button into a fizzy drink and watch it rise). In today’s story, we are going to learn about how God made a very bad thing good. With God, things look up!
Jesus was a very good teacher, and he taught his followers about many important things. Sometimes his followers understood the teachings, and sometimes they did not.
His followers were confused When Jesus said he would die on the cross and then be raised up again on the third day. “Why would Jesus have to die on the cross?” they must have asked. Only bad people had to die on the cross, and Jesus never did bad things.
But Jesus did die on the cross just like he said he would. When Jesus died, his followers were so sad. It was the saddest day that has ever been. The apostles and Jesus’ friends thought everything was over. They felt like nothing could ever be good again.
After Jesus died, a kind Jewish leader named Joseph (from Arimathea) asked for permission to take Jesus’ dead body down from the cross and bury it respectfully.
Joseph washed Jesus’ body and wrapped it in long strips of cloth with lots and lots of spices in between the cloths.
Joseph put the body into a tomb that had been carved out of solid rock. A big stone was rolled in front to block the opening of the tomb, and then guards came to stand in front of the tomb.
Jesus died on the cross and was buried in a tomb all on the same terrible day. That day was a Friday.
Friday passed, and then Saturday passed. All was quiet. Then, on the third day (Sunday), some women made their way to the tomb. It was a custom for women to come and put sweet-smelling spices on the body of the person that died. But the women were worried. They had heard about the big stone in front of the tomb. Who would move the stone so they could put spices on the body of Jesus?
When the women arrived at the tomb, they discovered that the stone had already been moved away from the opening of the tomb. There were no soldiers nearby, so who could have moved the stone?
The women looked inside the tomb. They were shocked to see that Jesus’ body was not inside! The tomb was empty. Where was Jesus’ dead body?
As the women were thinking about this, two men in shining clothes appeared beside them. These men were angels.
“This tomb is a place for dead people. Why are you looking here?” one of the angels asked. “Jesus is not here. He has risen from the dead!”
“Remember what Jesus said?” the angel continued. “Jesus said he would be killed on a cross but then rise back alive on the third day. Today is the third day!”
Of course, that is what Jesus had said. How could anyone forget that? The women rushed away to tell the other followers that Jesus was not dead. Jesus was alive!
But the followers could not believe this could be true. Peter decided to come and see for himself. When he looked inside the tomb, he saw that it was empty. All that was left were the linen cloths that Jesus’ dead body had been wrapped in. Could this good news be true?
Peter did not know it then, but someone else had actually seen Jesus alive. Earlier, when the other women had gone, Mary Magdalene had stayed near the tomb. She was so sad and confused. “How could the tomb be empty?” she thought, “Maybe someone had come and stolen Jesus’ body.”
But Mary was not alone in the tomb. The two angels spoke to her and asked her why she was crying.
Mary began to explain but then heard another voice. At first, she didn’t know who was speaking. Perhaps it was a man tending the garden.
Then he heard him say, “Mary”. When the man said her name, Mary knew it was JESUS, her teacher, speaking. Jesus had come back from the dead!
Mary was so happy. Jesus told her to go and tell the others that he would spend some time on earth with them but that he would be returning to his Father soon.
After Jesus rose from the dead, he appeared to many people. Two men were walking along a road talking about Jesus when he just appeared right there with him. These men rushed to tell the eleven disciples the good news.
His apostles had gathered, and he appeared right there in the room with them. He ate with them and even let them touch the scars he had from when he had been crucified.
More and more people began to realise that Jesus was no longer dead. JESUS WAS ALIVE!
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 the slideshow, or click here to download the pictures to print.
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.
- What was put in front of the tomb where Jesus was buried? Huge stone
- On what day of the week was Jesus raised from the dead? Sunday
- Whom did Jesus first speak to when he had risen? Mary Magdalene
- He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands Song
- If You Love Jesus
- Choose songs from a church hymnal about the resurrection: Low in the Grave He Lay, Christ the Lord is Risen Today, Rabboni!, He Lives, Lord I Lift Your Name on High, etc.
- Refer to the Song Page on this website for more options.
Learning Activities and Crafts:
- Place a dark cloth over a small table to form a “tomb”. Ask someone to be the body inside. Place a cardboard rock at the entrance. Let the children see the body inside and then put the stone in place. “Body” crawls out the back, and the children remove the stone to see an empty tomb. Young ones love this obvious re-enactment.
- Before class, tape verses or clues to large stones and place them around the room for children to find.
- Black out the windows of your classroom to make it dark like the tomb.
- Share a time in your life when something really bad ended up good.
- Write the memory verse on the board. Say the verse together. Erase one word or phrase and say the verse again. Say it over and over, eliminating one word or phrase each time. Soon, the children will have it memorised.
- 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:
- Triumphal Entry
- The Last Supper
- A Night of Betrayal and Prayer
- The Trial of Jesus
- Jesus is Crucified
- Burial and the Resurrection
- Use these instructions for The Story of the Cross to learn a simple way to tell the story using one sheet of paper.
- Guide the children in reading today’s scripture references. Then have them draw about what they have read.
- Use a blank piece of paper or print this worksheet: The Burial and Resurrection of Jesus_Drawing Response
- Guide the children in reading today’s scripture references. Then have them draw about what they have read. Use a blank piece of paper or print this worksheet: The Burial and Resurrection of Jesus_Writing Response
- One teacher made crafts for butterflies and frogs and paralleled this with how Jesus was transformed. (Thanks for this idea, Kayla Robinson.)
- Tomb Craft: If you have access to one classroom space where you can leave crafts to dry, children can make a craft tomb and then use it for review during the next class session. (We made the tomb craft one week and reviewed the next.)Guide children in making a tomb and placing the “body of Jesus” inside. Leave the
craft to dry. Before the next class session, remove the “bodies” from the tomb and place them aside. When the children arrive for the next session, they will naturally check inside their craft tombs and find the tomb empty. Let them conjecture where the body might have gone. By allowing the children to experience this empty tomb, you will find them reacting the same way the women did when Jesus’ body was gone. This is a great introduction to the story of the resurrection. After reviewing the resurrection story I returned the “bodies” so that the children could take the craft home and recreate the event for their families.
- To make the tomb cut a paper plate in half, paint if desired, and then staple the top rims together.
- To make the body of Christ, cut a simple body shape from cardboard, wrap it with one layer of toilet paper and dampen it with water from a spray bottle. Repeat this so the body is wrapped in multiple layers. Allow to dry.
- The stone is simply crumpled brown paper.
Check the Teaching Ideas page on this website for ideas that are adaptable to any lesson.
Other Online Resources:
- Colouring page with text (Ministry Spark)
- Colouring page and worksheets-Peter and John visit Jesus’ tomb (Calvary Curriculum)
- Colouring page and worksheets-Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene and the disciples (Calvary Curriculum)
- Colouring page and worksheets-The Road to Emmaus (Calvary Curriculum)
- Colouring page (christiananswers.net)
- Children’s Sermon and colouring page called “It’s Empty” (sermons4kids.com)
- Cooking craft: Short youtube video on how to make Resurrection Rolls to tell the story- from CullensABCs (youtube)
- Craft: Mobile with printable pattern (sundayschoolcrafts.net)
- Craft: Garden with tomb craft (sundayschoolcrafts.net)
- Craft: Salt dough tomb (sundayschoolcrafts.net)
- Craft: Another salt dough tomb (nolongerconforming.blogspot.co.nz)
- Craft: Tomb and stone from a paper plate and paper bag (dltk-bible.com)
- Worksheets and Puzzles: A printable (Easter) booklet containing a number of puzzles (sundayschoolresources.co.uk)
- Wordsearch puzzle-1 (christiananswers.net)
- Wordsearch puzzle-2 (christiananswers.net)
- A collection of activities about the resurrection called “Surprise” (sermons4kids.com)
- A collection of activities about the resurrection called “The Stone Was Rolled Away” (sermons4kids.com)
- A collection of activities about the resurrection called “The Case of the Empty Tomb” (sermons4kids.com)
- For older children (or for your own study): Did Jesus Rise from the Dead? A video about the historical evidence of the Resurrection (youtube)