The aim of this session is to look at the Easter story and understand why Jesus died, and the significance of Him rising again.
Easter! It is a time of hope for all of us. The end of winter and the beginning of spring; blossom on the trees; flowers in the garden; lambs in the field. At the time of writing, in 2020, we are reminded even more how much we need hope. The UK is currently in lockdown due to Coronavirus. It’s at times like this that we need to put our trust in Jesus even more, and know that He can defeat even death.
Easter has largely been taken over as a festival of spring, of new life and of new hope. For Christians, Easter is about Jesus’ resurrection. He died a horrible death on a cross, taking the punishment for sin as He did so, and then rose from the dead. This act proved that He had conquered death and Satan’s power.
ASLAN RISES – WATCH THE FILM.
A copy of the film “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe” (2005) and the means to play it.
This item looks at two separate scenes from The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe.
First, give the children some background information: This story takes place in the fantasy world of Narnia. The White Witch has taken over the country, and holds it in her power. However, Aslan, a lion who created Narnia in the beginning, has returned to it and given the people who live there hope. But, in the part that we’ll now watch, the White Witch (who made it always winter but never Christmas!) and her followers have just killed Aslan. Susan and Lucy saw the murder, and are not sure what to do next.
Play the clip (2 mins): Start – 1:38:41 (Lucy and Susan are approaching Aslan, who has just been killed)
End – 1:40:43 (Lucy and Susan have untied Aslan and Lucy rests her cheek on Aslan’s)
Discuss these questions:
Play the next clip (2 mins 15): Start – 1:48:03 (Lucy and Susan wake in the morning)
End – 1:50:18 (Aslan roars).
Now discuss these points:
Talk about the fact that the Bible tells us that Jesus died and rose again, and is similar to this story in the following ways:
The Point: To relate the story in the film to the death and resurrection of Jesus.
WHERE’S THE BODY? BIBLE STUDY
Piece of paper for each child, as well as something to lean on if necessary; pencils/pens; circles of paper/card or stones; pieces of material or toilet tissue; questions.
Give each child a piece of paper and some pens/pencils. Also have some round pieces of paper/card ready to give each child at the appropriate point. Alternatively, you could bring in some suitably sized clean stones, one per child. Also have some small pieces of material if possible, or pieces of toilet tissue, to represent the cloth.
Early in the morning of the first day of the week, some women who had been Jesus’ close friends went to the tomb where he had been buried. The tomb was cut in stone in a garden near to where Jesus was crucified on the cross.
(Ask the children to draw a garden with a hill at the back, with a hole cut into the stone in the hill. The cross could be drawn nearby)
On the way to the tomb, the women were worried about how they were going to move the stone in front of the tomb. It was big and heavy, and it had been sealed shut by the government in case someone tried to steal Jesus’ body.
(Give each child the circle of paper/card or stone and ask them to put this over the hole they’ve drawn)
But when they got to the tomb, they saw that the stone had been rolled away and they could see into the tomb.
(Roll the stone away from the hole)
But Jesus wasn’t there. They couldn’t see him at all. Instead, an angel appeared and spoke to them, saying, “Jesus isn’t here. He has come alive again, like He told you He would. Don’t be afraid, but go and tell His disciples.”
(Draw an angel next to the tomb)
The women ran to the place where the disciples were staying. They told them that Jesus’ body was gone and that the angel had told them that Jesus was alive. The disciples didn’t know what to think. Peter and John rushed to the tomb. John got there first and waited outside, but Peter ran straight in when he arrived, and John followed. Jesus was gone. The cloth that He had been wrapped in was there, though. It was folded up neatly on the stone bench that Jesus’ body had been left lying on.
(Give each child a piece of material/tissue and ask them to fold it and put it in the tomb)
Peter and John went home, confused. But Mary, who had followed them back to the tomb, stayed behind. She was terribly upset. She didn’t really understand what the angel had told her, and she loved Jesus. All she wanted was to know where His body was. While she was crying, someone came to her and asked why she was crying. She thought he was a gardener, so she said, “They have taken away the body of my Lord and I don’t know what they’ve done with it! Please, tell me where it is.”
The man said one word, “Mary,” and she instantly recognised his voice and realised that Jesus was talking to her. She looked up and saw Jesus, alive and well, but still with the hole in his hands where the nails had been.
“Teacher!” she exclaimed.
(Draw Jesus and Mary in the garden)
Jesus told her to go and tell the disciples that He was alive.
Mary ran back to the room where the disciples were and told them that she had seen Jesus. They were happy, but still a bit confused. Mary might be telling the truth – but she might have imagined it. Then they remembered that Jesus had said that He would come alive again after 3 days, only they hadn’t understood what He meant at the time.
Suddenly, they looked up and Jesus had come into the room even though the doors were locked. He told them not to worry and ate with them. The disciples were glad.
Jesus is alive!
Ask the group the following questions:
How do you think Jesus’ friends felt when His body was put in the tomb?
What thoughts might they have had when they saw that the stone wasn’t covering the tomb?
Do you think they found it easy to believe that Jesus was alive again?
How do you think they felt when Jesus appeared to them?
Why was it important that Jesus rose from the dead? (If Jesus didn’t defeat death, how can we? Jesus was who He said He was. The resurrection shows that the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross was accepted and our sins are forgiven) (also see 1 Corinthians 15:17; Romans 10:9; Isaiah 53:10-12; Romans 6:23)
If the disciples hadn’t seen Jesus alive, what do you think would have happened? (They were to go and make disciples of all nations based on the fact that Jesus is risen; if they hadn’t seen him, would they have been able to preach the gospel with certainty? Would Christianity exist today?)
Explain what the resurrection meant: that Jesus had taken the punishment for sin and had conquered death. And now, because Jesus has been raised from the dead, He promises that those who believe in Him will equally one day enjoy life after death with Him for all eternity.
The Point: To tell the story of the resurrection and what it means.
Here is a song – Jesus Superhero Great Big God.
FOR OLDER KIDS:
THE ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS BIBLE STUDY:
Bibles, paper and pens.
For each of the following activities, get people to think about what are the essential ingredients. What is the bare minimum of equipment that they need to perform the activity? Even though there are no end of gadgets that they could use, or equipment that would make the activity easier or more enjoyable, they need to think about the things that it would be impossible for them to manage without.
No doubt there will be a fair amount of disagreement! Some people might argue that they can’t possibly swim without goggles for example; someone else may argue that all you need is a swimming costume; and someone else is bound to argue that you don’t even need that!
Then get them to think about the essentials of the Christian faith. Out of all the different beliefs that we have and things that we consider important, what are the bare essentials that are crucial to the Christian faith?
Then read 1 Corinthians 15:12-19. Discuss with the group:
The Point: To help young people realise how crucial Easter is to the Christian faith.
Large piece of white cloth/material (a bed sheet), paints and brushes, or spray paints, large felt pens, worship music of your choice and the means to play it.
Hang the material up against a wall (make sure the paint wont seep through onto the wall!). Explain that, as Jesus is no longer using this material as burial cloths, you are going to graffiti it with prayers of thanksgiving and requests to the risen Jesus.
Leave the paints and pens available and play some background music (to the tastes of your group).
Allow the group to paint the cloth with their prayers and reflections in response to what they have learned throughout the session. This may be in the form of a written prayer, a poem, a symbol or picture. Allow them to use their imaginations. Remember, it does not have to make sense to you, only to the young person and Jesus.
Once a suitable amount of time has passed, finish the activity by leading a prayer, thanking God for raising Jesus back to life, and in that act defeating death for us all and giving us eternal access to the Father.
The Point: To encourage the young people to express their prayers and reflections in a visual way.