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(WT) Meeting Jesus on the Road to Emmaus ~ Art Workshop Writing Team

Meeting Jesus on the Road to Emmaus

Art Workshop


Summary of Activities

After studying the story and looking at some Emmaus artwork, students will create their own work of art that captures at least four key visuals from the story:  The Road, The Disciples with Jesus, Hearts Burning, Eyes Opened.  They will include a self-portrait in the place of the unnamed disciple and may include other meaningful words, objects, and understandings based on their study and discussion.

Scripture for the Set

Luke 24:13-35 (NRSV)

Memory Verse/Key Verse:  Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him, and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?”  (Luke 24: 31-32)

Lesson Objectives

See the Bible Background at for this set's complete list of objectives.

Preparation and Materials

  • Read the Bible Background and scripture.
  • Print the Emmaus Artwork Packet attached at the end of this lesson.
  • Gather the following supplies:
    • Smocks
    • Brushes of various sizes  (Also, see the "alternate objects and textures" technique described at the end of the lesson and collect those materials, if desired.)
    • Paints (preferably washable)
    • Pencils
    • Canvas Options: We suggest investing in a bulk pack of inexpensive canvas boards so that the students' efforts will be display worthy. Make sure the canvases are big enough to include story detail; the younger the student, the more space he will need.  (Cheap paper will curl and end up in the trash. As an alternative to canvas boards, use heavy art or butcher paper.)
    • easelEasels:   See our cardboard easel idea at the end of this lesson!
    • Fans for quick drying
    • Whiteboard or chalkboard or flipchart
    • Cellphone and speaker to play the background music (links to selections below)

Some Art Teaching Tips and Key Ideas

Demonstrate to students several art techniques, such as outlining all the major objects and persons, mixing colors before applying them to the canvas, different strokes, etc.

Show them several ways of applying paint, instead of just having them load up a brush and adding too much. Teach them that they don't have to "color in" everything, but can leave brush strokes and canvas showing.

Don't make the drawing/painting area too small, as this will limit what they can clearly include in the artwork.

Invite them to first sketch their ideas on the canvas to create a layout of where things will go. Sketching will help avoid turning their project into a glob of paint.

See the "alternate paint application" technique described at the end of this lesson.

ashley-emmausUse thicker paints and have a variety of brush sizes so that students can create details and include meaningful objects in their painting.  If using watercolor, have them draw the complete illustration using pencil first.

Avoid painting the canvas on a flat table as this usually results in smeared paintings. See "Creating Easels" at the end of this lesson.

Quietly play some music as they paint. See suggestions at end of lesson plan.

We have attached a number of printable Emmaus illustrations to this lesson to share with your students. Some can serve as a template for those who want to copy rather than draw free-hand. See the attachment at the end of this lesson.


A big part of the teaching opportunity is during the painting as you circulate and help each student consider how to express the story and its meaning. Prior to starting their painting, suggest a few artistic ideas to your students:

  • Color:  What colors represent doubt, disappointment, despair, grief?  Those could be used to paint the first part of your Road.  What colors represent "dawning recognition," "scripture burning within our hearts"?
  • Signs:  What symbols or signs represent turning around and going back to spread the news?
  • Depicting Jesus: Will he appear slightly hidden at first? How could that be depicted? (See the art handout for examples.)
  • Remind students that they can paint SEVERAL story scenes on their canvas (younger children will typically think they can only paint one Jesus and two disciples). Help them think of painting several small scenes "along a road."
  • Encourage the students to put themselves on the road, perhaps as the unnamed disciple.
  • Encourage older students to visualize in their art the "road they are on," where it is leading, what's along the side of the road in their lives, what helps them "see" Jesus.

Lesson Plan

Opening Study

Welcome students and introduce today's lesson. To build anticipation, give each of them a smock to put on.

As a storyteller reads the scripture passage, have students look at various drawings in the Emmaus Artwork Packet.  If possible, display them on a TV or LCD projector.

Pause after reading the following scripture verses (or after the entire reading) and ask these questions

(1) 15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16 but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.

Questions: Why do you suppose they couldn't recognize the Risen Jesus?  Which of the pictures in the packet best illustrates this inability to see the Risen Jesus?

(2) 25 Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26 Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

Question: What makes a disciple then and now "slow of heart" or "slow to believe" ?

(3) 33 That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together.


  1. Name several things that helped the disciples believe that Jesus was alive.
  2. When you believe Jesus is alive what choices do you need to make then?
  3. How could you PAINT (visually represent) those choices?

Have the students help you write a list on the board of all the objects and issues/choices found in the story.  This list will function as a reference for students deciding what to include in their painting.


1. Prepare your canvas, paint, and brushes.

2. Decide what you want to put on your canvas and either sketch it onto the canvas or onto a separate piece of paper. (See the "art teaching tips" at the beginning of this lesson for ideas.)

3. Begin painting.

  • While painting, have a helper read the story one more time out loud, then play some music.
  • Give everyone five minute and one minute "finish up" warnings.
  • Be sure everyone has put his name on his painting. (Tip: Instead of paint, have them scrape their name with the blunt end of the brush.)


Collect all the brushes, then as a group travel to view each person's painting. Point out or ask questions about what ideas they depicted in their paintings.

Clean up and make arrangements for students to pick up their work when it is fully dry.


grease-wax-pencilFor Younger Students: Print and make enlarged copies of the images from the pack and have students paint over them as a template.

If Short on Time:   Consider having students each do a different scene from the story. Consider sketching using "grease" (wax) pencils to avoid the mess and cleanup of paint.

Another less messy and quicker alternative: consider painting the entire scene using lemon juice which will become visible when heated with a blow dryer. (Extremely lightly sketch the image first.) Indeed, students could paint several such story images and give them to others with instructions to "make the invisible visible."

If you have extra time: Create additional painted illustrations of  key phrases from scripture and "big questions" the story makes us think about. These can be produced by students who get done early or by helpers.  If you have class time, invite each student to contribute a "painted" question or comment as part of their reflection.

If the church has space on the walls (in a gathering area or classroom hallway): Think of producing an "Emmaus gallery" for other children and adults to contemplate.

Creating Easels and Canvases for this Art Workshop

Easels ELEVATE the creative process both literally and figuratively. If you don't already have easels, these easy-to-make cardboard easels will improve the quality and experience of the painting. Tape together some heavy-duty moving boxes as shown (without opening them) to form triangular easels on the table. Tape the easel cardboard to the table as well. They're reusable, movable, give you a work area in front, and keep the paint off the kids and floor.

Alternately, you can attach a long sheet of butcher paper to the wall onto which you can temporarily tape your "canvases."  Use grease (wax) pencils to draw instead of paint on wall mounted canvases, as painting on a vertical surface will cause paint to drip onto shoes and the floor.

Background Music Suggestions

Here are several good contemporary Christian songs from YouTube that you could play over your phone and extension speaker to create a contemplative mood. The songs were selected because they speak to something in the Emmaus story.

Alternate Story Object and Textures Painting Technique

Brushes are great and a bit quicker than the following technique, but using objects connected to the story to paint with adds an additional layer of artistic result, memory reinforcement, and fun. Painting without brushes also tends to use less paint.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Paint the image of Jesus using lemon juice, then heat ("fire" ) with a blow dryer to make the invisible appear visible. (Have student practice this in advance on a piece of paper. They won't be able to paint much detail with lemon juice.)
  • Paint a road by stamping the canvas with stones dipped in paint.
  • Paint disciple robes by brushing paint onto burlap then using the burlap like a stamp.
  • Use a piece of bread to stamp paint a representation of bread.
  • Paint a table using grape juice.

Written by the Writing Team
Copyright 2018, Inc.


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Last edited by Neil MacQueen
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