Friday, 29 April 2011

First Easter 2

This is the text of the story from the second session of the Sunday School program that I wrote for Palm Sunday, Easter Sunday and the Sunday following Easter for 2011. I based the story text on Luke 22:47-24:53 and Acts 1:1-14. This session is based on Luke 23:50-24:49. The story for the first session can be found here.
The following explanation is part of an activity that our church kids did before the Bible story. It helps the kids to understand what Jesus is talking about later in the story:

When Jesus lived, the Jewish people did not have the same Bible that we have today. The Jewish people called their Bible “The Scriptures”. Today, we call it “The Old Testament”. The Old Testament Scriptures have many books. They include the books called “The Law of Moses”, which were written by Moses. Then came the books called “The Prophets” which told the history of the people of Israel and what God said to them through the prophets God sent. There were also “The Psalms”*, which included the Book of Psalms and some other books such as Proverbs.

* "The Psalms" was also called "The Writings", but in this passage of Luke, Jesus refers to these books as "The Psalms".
Jesus is God’s King, the Christ. The Jews asked Pilate to sentence Jesus to death by crucifixion, so Pilate sent Jesus to the cross. Jesus died on the cross to save us, so we may live in heaven with Him.

Jesus was dead. When people die, other people bury their dead bodies. So a man named Joseph asked Pilate if he could bury Jesus’ body. Joseph took Jesus’ body down off the cross on the hill. Then Joseph wrapped strips of linen cloth around Jesus’ body. And Joseph put Jesus’ body in a tomb cut into rock.

The women who had seen Jesus dying on the cross, who had cried when Jesus died, watched Joseph bury Jesus’ body. It was getting late in the day and they could not put sweet-smelling spices on Jesus’ body now. The women would not go near or touch Jesus’ body on the next day, because it was a holy Sabbath day. The women knew they would have to wait until the day after the Sabbath, the third day, to come and put spices on Jesus’ body. So they went home to get the sweet-smelling spices ready for the third day.

Very early on the morning of the third day (it was a Sunday), the women took the sweet-smelling spices and went to the tomb where they had seen Joseph bury Jesus’ body. When the women arrived at the tomb, they got a shock: the big stone that should have been in front of the opening to the tomb had been moved. The stone had been rolled away. The women could see right inside the tomb. But Jesus’ body was missing! They looked and searched but they could not find the body of Jesus anywhere. It was the morning of the third day since Jesus had died, and Jesus’ body was missing. “I wonder where Jesus’ body is!” they said to each other.

And while they were wondering about it, they had an even bigger shock: suddenly two men were standing beside them. Their clothes shone very bright, like lightning. They were angels with a message from God. The angels said to the women, “Why are you looking for someone who is alive in a tomb for dead people? Jesus is not here in the tomb. Jesus is risen!”

The women ran to tell the disciples that Jesus’ body was missing, because Jesus had risen from the dead. At first, no-one believed them. So Peter went to the tomb to look for Jesus’ body. When Peter got to the tomb, he looked inside. All Peter could see was the strips of linen that Joseph had wrapped around Jesus’ body. The linen strips were lying by themselves. Jesus’ body was missing because Jesus had risen from the dead.

Later that day, two of Jesus’ followers were walking from Jerusalem to a nearby town called Emmaus. Cleopas and his friend couldn’t stop talking about everything that had happened to Jesus. And as they were walking and talking, a man came up and began to walk along with them.
“What are you talking about?” the man asked Cleopas and his friend.
They could not believe that the man had not heard the news about Jesus dying on the cross.
“What has happened?” the man asked them.
“Jesus of Nazareth was a powerful prophet,” Cleopas and his friend told the man who walked with them. “The leaders of our people, the Jews, asked for Him to be sentenced to death, and Jesus died on a cross. We had hoped that Jesus was going to save our people. But now it is the third day since Jesus died, and some women told us that Jesus’ body is missing. Peter went to the tomb and found out that the women told us the truth.”

The man said to Cleopas and his friend, “You are very foolish because you do not believe what the Prophets have said. Didn’t you know that God’s King (the Christ) had to suffer? Didn’t you know this had to happen before God’s King (the Christ) could enter His glory?” And the man started to explain to Cleopas and his friend all about what was said in all the Old Testament Scriptures about Jesus. Cleopas’s heart felt like it was on fire inside his chest as he listened to the man begin with the Law of Moses, and then talk about the Prophets. At last Cleopas and his friend understood that all of the Old Testament Scripture points towards Jesus.

Cleopas was very excited. When they got to his home in Emmaus, he invited the man to come in. They sat down to have a meal together. As the man prayed thanking God for the meal and then held up some bread to break it into pieces for each of them, Cleopas suddenly recognised the man. It was Jesus who had been walking and talking with them! It was Jesus! Jesus had risen from the dead!

But then, just as mysteriously as Jesus had come to walk along with them, He was gone. Cleopas ran all the way back to Jerusalem to tell the disciples what had happened. The disciples told Cleopas that since they had left for Emmaus, Peter had seen Jesus as well. They knew it was true: Jesus had risen from the dead!

As everyone was talking together, Jesus came into the room. The disciples were shocked, but they were also frightened. Was this really Jesus, or was it a ghost? Jesus said to them, “I am not a ghost. Look at the wounds on my hands and feet where I was nailed to the cross. Touch me! I am not a ghost.” Then Jesus ate some fish with the disciples to show them He was real. Jesus was not a ghost, Jesus had risen from the dead!

Then Jesus helped His disciples to understand the Old Testament Scriptures. Jesus said, “Everything that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms must happen. It must come true.”
Jesus explained to them, “The Scriptures say that the Christ, God’s King, must suffer and rise from the dead on the third day.” Jesus died on the cross and then rose from the dead just as God had promised His people long ago, when the Old Testament Scriptures were first written.

Jesus said, “People in every country will be told that they should repent of their sins and their sins will be forgiven in my name, the name of Jesus Christ, God’s King. You have seen everything has happened to Me just as God promised in the Scriptures. Soon you will tell people everywhere about Me.”
All illustrations are copyright 2011 Chrissie D. She drew them specifically for our program. (Isn't she wonderful?) The illustrations have deliberately been resized to about 10% of their original size to prevent people copying and re-using Chrissie D's original art without permission.

If you would like to use this story, the illustrations or the accompanying program including materials for activities and songs with your children or church or in some other way, please leave a message on the blog and I will get back to you directly.

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