Suggested Emphasis: Even though everything was bad — God made it good. He can do the same for us when things are bad.
Memory Verse: For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. Romans 6:9 (NIV)
On the third day, after Jesus was buried, some women went to the tomb to place spices around the body. The body of Jesus was gone! They were shocked to find the huge stone rolled back from the tomb door and an angel inside. The angel told them that Jesus had risen from the dead. After the other disciples saw what had happened, Jesus himself appeared to Mary Magdalene in front of the tomb. Jesus rose from the dead!
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!
Each of the gospel writers mentions different details so it helps to read all four to get the full story.
John 19:38-42 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 a secret disciple so it was brave of him to reveal himself by asking for Jesus’ body. Nicodemus was also a secret follower (John 19:39). They prepared the body according to Jewish custom. They would have used 30-75 pounds of myrrh and aloes in between strips of linen. Then they placed it in an unused tomb in a garden nearby.
Matthew 27:57-66 The Jewish leaders did not rest on the Sabbath. They went to Pilate and convinced him that soldiers should guard the tomb so no one would steal the body and say Jesus had been resurrected. Pilate granted them what they wanted. 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 6 the night before because that was the official end of 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). Jesus’ fair treatment and respect for women would have been unusual in that society.
Luke 24:1-11– The women found the stone rolled away from the empty tomb. Two angels appeared and asked why they were looking for the living among the dead. They went back to the eleven apostles to tell them.
John 20:11-18– John records that Mary Magdalene stood outside the tomb weeping. She seems to have returned to the tomb or lingered because Mark says Jesus appeared to her first (Mark 16:9-11). Jesus then appeared to the women who were on their way to see the apostles (Matthew 28:8-10).
John 20:3-9– Peter and John ran to the tomb. John arrived first and looked in to see strips of linen lying around. Peter arrives next and rushed inside of the tomb. What he saw made him believe.
Luke 24:13-35– This very interesting story could easily be a lesson on its own. Jesus appeared to two disciples (not on the eleven) who were walking along the road to the village of Emmaus on Sunday. They do not recognise him. Ironically, they tell him all about Jesus. They do not refer to him as the Messiah but as a prophet. Jesus still does not reveal himself but tells them all about the purpose of his coming. It is not until they share a meal together that they recognise him. The two men find the apostles and tell them.
Luke 24:36-43– Jesus must have appeared to Peter during the day on Sunday (verse 34) but he sees all of the other apostles besides Thomas on Sunday night. They are in a locked room and he appears in their midst. In John 20:24-31– Jesus appears to Thomas.
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).
- What happened before this story?
- What happens after this story?
- List of all Bible stories and themes on this website.
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 sink to the bottoms of the glasses at first but fizzy drink bubbles will collect underneath the button and make it float to the surface. (If the button has any oil on it or the drink is not fizzy then 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 to just 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 second button into 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 used to tell the apostles and his friends that he was King. He told them that he would be raised on the third day. Everyone liked listening to Jesus but they never really understood what he meant.
Then something happened that made them forget everything. Jesus died on the cross. Even after he was dead the soldiers were mean to him. One Roman soldier stuck a spear into his side after he was dead- just to make sure. How could Jesus be king if he was dead? The apostles and Jesus’ friends thought everything was over.
After Jesus died two friends came to get his body. They were Joseph (from Arimathea) and Nicodemus. They washed Jesus’ dead body and wrapped it in long strips of cloth with lots and lots of spices in between the cloths. They put the body into a tomb that had been carved out of a solid rock. Then they rolled a very big stone in front of the doorway to the tomb.
The Jewish leaders were afraid that someone might steal Jesus’ body and say that he was raised from the dead. So they asked Pilate to put a special seal on the stone in front of the tomb and put guards in front of it.
Remember how Jesus said he would be raised on the third day? He died and was buried on Friday (the first day). Saturday was the second day. Before sunrise on Sunday (the third day) something amazing happened!
There was a violent earthquake and an angel of the Lord came down out of heaven like a lightning bolt. His clothes were as white as snow. The angel went to the tomb and rolled back the huge stone and then sat on it.
The guards were so afraid that they couldn’t move. Finally, they ran away to tell the Jewish leaders what had happened. The Jewish leaders didn’t want anyone to know the truth so they gave the soldiers lots of money and told them to tell everyone that the disciples had come during the night and stolen Jesus’ body.
After the soldiers left, some women came to put more perfume on Jesus’ body. While they were walking to the tomb they were wondering whom they could ask to move the heavy stone. When they arrived at the tomb they saw that the stone had already been moved by the angel! The angel told them the good news, “He is risen!”
One of the women, Mary Magdalene, was crying because she thought someone had stolen Jesus’ body. She looked inside the tomb. Instead of Jesus’ body she saw two angels. “Why are you crying?” they asked.
When Mary turned around she saw another man. She thought it was a gardener. “Have you taken Jesus’ body?”
Then the man looked at Mary and said her name. Wait! This was not the gardener, this was Jesus!” Jesus really was raised from the dead on the third day. It was just as he had said.
Jesus appeared to the other women before they went to tell the apostles. At first the apostles did not believe them. Peter and John came to look in the tomb. All they saw were the grave clothes. Could this really be true?
During the day Jesus appeared to two men who were walking along a road. That night he went to find the 11 apostles (remember there were not 12 any longer since Judas hung himself). All of the apostles but Thomas were in a room with the door locked. Jesus just floated through the door and stood in front of them. They were shocked to see Jesus. He showed them where the nails had been and where the soldier had stuck a spear into his side.
Later, when the apostles told Thomas he said he would have to see Jesus to believe it. So Jesus came again and let Thomas put his finger where the nails and spear had been. Now even Thomas believed that Jesus was alive again. God made everything better. He made Jesus alive again!
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 the way YOU are telling 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
- Choose songs from a church hymnal about the resurrection: Low in the Grave He Lay, Christ the Lord is Risn’ 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.
- Stories about the Death, Burial and Resurection of Jesus:
- Resurrection Eggs: 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.
- 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.)
- 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 with one layer of toilet paper and dampen with water from a spray bottle, repeat layers and let dry. The stone is just crumpled brown paper. In one class we had the children each make a tomb and then put the body inside. During the week I moved the stones and removed the bodies. The next week we were going to be studying about the resurrection. When the children arrived that day they immediately went to the tombs they had made and were shocked to find the body missing. I let them search and conjecture for awhile before leading into the story of how the women came to the tomb to find Jesus’ body missing. The children could totally relate to how the women must have felt. At the end of class I returned the “bodies” so that the children could take the craft home and recreate the event for their families.
Check the Teaching Ideas page on this website for ideas that are adaptable to any lesson.
Other Online Resources:
- Colouring page and worksheets-Jesus is risen (Calvary Curriculum)
- Colouring page and worksheets-Peter and John visit Jesus’ tomb (Calvary Curriculum)
- Colouring page and worksheets-Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene and disciples (Calvary Curriculum)
- Colouring page and worksheets-The Road to Emmaus (Calvary Curriculum)
- Colouring page (christiananswers.net)
- Colouring page and Wordsearch (colormountain.com)
- 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)
- 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 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)
- Online activities and games (gardenofpraise.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)