The Empty Tomb/Resurrection Appearances
Summary of Lesson Activities:
Use a variety of games to learn story details about the empty tomb and resurrection appearances of Jesus.
Luke 24:1-12, Matthew 28:1-7, John 20:1-21, Luke 24:36-44 (Note: A story summary is provided with this lesson. It is paraphrased from all of these Bible passages.)
“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.” Luke 24:5 NRSV
Workshop Objectives — children will learn:
- That the women found Jesus’ tomb empty. That the stone was moved away not to let Jesus out, but so people could see Jesus had risen from the dead.
- The resurrected Jesus appeared to his followers; first the women, then to disciples in a locked room.
- Jesus was alive! Jesus was raised from the dead to give us new life.
- The empty tomb and resurrection appearances help us believe in Jesus.
- Older kids: where to find the story in the Bible.
- Read the scripture for this lesson.
- Read and reflect on the overview material provided for this lesson.
- Prepare an opening and/or closing prayer in case you need one.
- Gather the materials.
- Lots of empty plastic eggs to use for relay and other games.
- A set of “Resurrection Eggs” to tell story. In our case we are using ten different colors of eggs – each containing a different item related to the story. Note: we duplicated some of the eggs so there would be enough eggs for each student to have one to use.)
- A basket to hold the Resurrection Eggs (because you want to keep them separate from the other game eggs).
- Paraphrased story to use with “Resurrection Eggs” (attached).
- Bibles (3rd grade and up)
- Pencils (optional) for Egg Roll game.
- Tape player with music tape for “Hot Eggs” game (optional).
Gather everyone in the tent storytelling area. Welcome your students to the games workshop. Make introductions (including yourself and any other adults). Pass around a basket to collect any offering. Remind everyone what the Missions & Me project is for this month: Habitat for Humanity. (Share something you know about Habitat for Humanity.)
[Note: The Shepherd will be taking care of attendance, etc. This can all happen quietly while you continue with the lesson.]
Say: Today we are going to play some games, but first let’s begin with prayer.
Ask for any prayer requests. Ask if anyone would like to lead the group in prayer. Be prepared to say a prayer yourself, working in prayer requests. A suggestion: “Dear God, Thank you for wanting to have a special relationship with each one of us. At this Easter time we are reminded of the gift of your son, Jesus, who died and yet came back to life again. What a surprise it must have been for the followers to discover the empty tomb. We thank you Lord, for the empty tomb, because we know it means that Jesus is alive. Amen.”
[Note: depending on the needs of a particular group, use your judgment in deciding how to mix the following active games with telling the story. One restriction: the “Hot Eggs” game needs to come after the telling of the story. “Reflection time” should follow after that.]
Egg Carry Relay Game:
[Note: This game doesn’t really teach anything Biblical – it’s added to provide an active game that our younger students really need.]
Form two teams. (Try to avoid boys vs. girls. Use birthdays or counting off instead.) Decide on your race “course” (simple straight point-to-point, or more complicated). Object is for all members of a team to carry all the eggs in their arms (without dropping any) from point A to point B and back. This is a relay so they will be handing off their armload of eggs to the next team member, etc. until all on a team have had a chance to race. If they drop any
eggs while on the course, they need to stop and pick them up!
Have teams line up. Give the first member of each team an arm full of eggs. [Note: use fewer eggs for younger students.] Give the “go” and have fun. [Note: Don’t accentuate a “winning” team; emphasize instead that everyone did his or her best. They were all eggs-perts!]
Egg Roll Game:
Say: The object of this game is to roll your egg from one end of the room to the other. Here’s the catch: you can only touch the egg with your nose. [Note: Be sensitive to kids who might feel uncomfortable on their hands and knees – be flexible and change the rules: say can only move the egg with a pencil. Then hand out pencils to use.]
Divide class into groups of however many can comfortably roll eggs at the same time in the space you have to use. Allow everyone a chance at rolling an egg.
Ask: Did you expect that game was going to be easy?
What happened? (eggs didn’t roll straight)
Say: Sometimes things don’t turn out as we expect they will. That happened to Jesus’ followers in our Bible story. Jesus had told his disciples that he would be killed and would raise from the dead, but they still found it hard to believe. On the very first Easter, Jesus’ disciples were pretty surprised to find his tomb empty!
Tell the story with the “Resurrection Eggs”:
Gather students in the storytelling area.
Ask: Who knows what the word “resurrection” means? (literally "rise again")
Say: When we say that Jesus was “resurrected” it means he rose from the dead on the very first Easter. God’s power overcame even death and raised Jesus. Jesus was alive! Knowing about God’ power helps us believe in God.
Pass out the Resurrection Eggs so that everyone has at least one egg. (Don’t pass out the duplicate color eggs until all of the other eggs are distributed first. If you have less than ten students, some will have more than one egg.
Read the story, using the eggs in one of two ways:
- Best for younger kids: Tell the children not to open their eggs until they are told to. As you read the story, at the appropriate time, ask, “Who has the pink egg?” and let them open it and show what is inside.
- Let the children open their eggs before you tell the story. As you read the story tell them to raise their hand when they recognize the place in the story that applies to their egg.
Hot Eggs Game:
Collect the Resurrection eggs in a basket. Have the children stand in a circle for a game of Hot Eggs (instead of Hot Potato). Pull an egg out of the basket at random. Have the kids pass the egg around the circle. Options:
- Play music and have them stop passing the egg when you stop the music.
- Count, and have them stop when you get to 10.
- You might have a better idea! Feel free to improvise with the form of the game.
When the action stops, have the child holding the egg open it and tell what part of the story it symbolizes. Repeat the game until every child has a chance to open an egg.
Gather in the storytelling area for discussion.
For 3rd grade and up:
Have Bibles available so that students can look up answers to questions if needed. [Answers will be in Luke 24: 36-43.]
For all students:
Ask: When the resurrected Jesus appeared to the disciples, first he convinced them that he was not a ghost. How did he do that? (Showed them his hands and feet, told them to touch him, and ate a piece of fish, verses 39-43)
Ask: What helps you to believe in the miracle of Jesus’ resurrection? (allow all answers)
Ask: After Jesus convinced the disciples of who he was, he talked to them and helped them to understand the things that had happened. What did he say the scriptures said about him? (That the Messiah was to suffer and die but would rise from the dead on the third day, verse 44-45)
Ask: What do we mean when we talk about the “scriptures”? (the Bible)
Say: Reading our Bibles (or having someone read Bible stories to us) can help us to understand about God’s love and God’s power. God loves you very much and wants you to believe in him.
In case you have extra time (grades 3 and up):
Play a few rounds of “who can find the passage first.” Have everyone start with his or her Bible closed. Call out verses for the students to search for and read when they find them -- do this in pairs if you wish. Suggestions:
Say: Easter is a special time for us to remember that Jesus lives. The empty tomb reminds us of the new life that God has promised each of us.
Ask children to help collect the eggs, Bibles, and other materials. Be sure that the Resurrection eggs are separate from other eggs used for games and have all their correct contents.
Encourage everyone to come back next week for another workshop, and to invite friends to come too!
Supplies to create before class:
Make a set of Resurrection Eggs (plastic eggs with symbols of story in them). [Note: a purchased set of Resurrection Eggs has additional symbols that tell other parts of the Easter story. The set created for this story will make use of symbols pertaining to the empty tomb and the resurrection appearances of Jesus.]
--color of egg-----contents-----application to story
- Green---Cross---Jesus died on a cross.
- Orange---Spices (cinnamon sticks)---women brought spices to the tomb to put on Jesus' body.
- Pink---Stone---had been rolled away from the entrance of the tomb.
- Dark Blue---Empty egg---Jesus’ body was missing from the tomb.
- Light Blue---Angel---Angels told the women that Jesus had risen.
- Light Purple---Burial cloth---When Peter ran to the tomb, the only thing he saw was the burial cloth Jesus’ body had been wrapped in.
- Dark Purple---Hands--- Jesus showed the disciples his hands so they would believe he was really Jesus.
- Yellow---Nails---Jesus’ hands and feet were nailed to the cross. He showed the disciples so they would know who he was.
- Maize/Blue---Fish---When Jesus asked for something to eat, the disciples gave him a piece of fish and he ate it while they watched.
- White---Scroll (scriptures)---Jesus talked about the scriptures
Story Summary (use with prepared Resurrection Eggs)
Jesus had been killed on a CROSS (green eggs). When Jesus was buried, some of the women who had been his followers, watched as his body was put in the tomb. Then it was time for the Sabbath, so they rested for a day.
Very early on Sunday morning, the women went to the tomb, carrying the SPICES (orange eggs) they had prepared to put on Jesus' body. When they got there, they found the STONE (pink egg) had been rolled away from the entrance of the tomb. So they went in, but they did not find Jesus’ body. The tomb was EMPTY! (dark blue eggs)
Suddenly two men in shining white clothes stood beside them. They were ANGELS! (light blue egg) The women were afraid, but the angels said, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? Jesus is not here! He has risen.”
The women went to the 11 disciples and told them what had happened. The disciples thought it was nonsense and didn’t believe the women. But Peter ran to the tomb and looked in and saw only the BURIAL CLOTH (light purple eggs) that Jesus’ body had been wrapped in. So he wondered what had happened.
Later that evening, the disciples were in a locked room, for they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. The disciples were talking about what the women had told them. Suddenly, Jesus appeared and greeted them! They were terrified, because they thought they were seeing a ghost. But Jesus said, “Why are you so scared? Look at my hands and feet and see who I am.” The disciples could see that his HANDS (dark purple egg) had marks where the NAILS (yellow eggs) had been. Jesus said, “Touch me and find out for yourselves. Ghosts don’t have flesh and bones.”
The disciples were so happy and amazed they couldn’t believe it. Then Jesus asked, “Do you have something to eat?” They gave him a piece of FISH (maize &blue eggs), and he ate it while they watched.
Then Jesus talked about the SCRIPTURES (white eggs) and helped the disciples understand. He told them: “The scriptures say that the Messiah must suffer, then three days later he will rise from the dead.
This is the story we tell every Easter, to remember the first Easter when God’s power raised Jesus, proving that Jesus was the chosen Messiah, come to give us all new life.
###end of story###
Resources for this Games Lesson:
- Kirk of Kildaire Presbyterian Church, Cary, NC. “ Resurrection”
- Egg Carry game from “Postholiday Egg Race”. Family Fun, April 2002: page 18.
- Egg Roll game adapted from Cokesbury’s “Exploring Faith: Middle Elementary”, Spring 2001.
A lesson written by Carol Hulbert from: First UMC
Ann Arbor, MI
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