Use this elementary Sunday school lesson: God Is Forever at Easter or any time you want to celebrate new life in Christ. Find more great Sunday school lessons to help kids grow in their faith.
Each year at Easter we’re swept away by the almost incomprehensible idea of what God’s love has done for us through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This Bible lesson will help kids better understand the true meaning of God’s sacrifice.
- celebrate the good news of Easter,
- experience ways God is always with them, and
- thank God for always being there.
- a Bible
- three signs reading, “Sorry, He’s Not Here!”
- regular birthday candles and special birthday candles that relight after they’re blown out (You can find these candles in the party-supply sections of most stores.)
- a bowl of water
- a smooth pebble or rock for each child (Rocks should be big enough to write the word “God” on them.)
- thin-line permanent markers
- an empty plastic Easter egg for each child
Bible Basis: Psalm 121 and John 20:1-9
Easter comes crashing upon us with the awesome power of ocean waves breaking against the shore. We’re swept away by the almost incomprehensible idea of what God’s love has done for us through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Everything we are as Christians is held together by the impact of Easter. The empty tomb was God’s final statement that we are his children, and not even the finality of death is more powerful than faith in our risen Lord.
John 20:1-9 tells us the story of the empty tomb. The first eyes that looked around in that empty tomb were rubbed in disbelief. Who stole Jesus’ body? Why would they do that? No, it can’t be true. He can’t be alive again. Or is he?
Then he came into their presence. They saw his hands, and they experienced his glorious radiance. They heard the promise for all eternity that he would be with them and us. These are ideas so lofty that we barely comprehend them. This is truth so spectacular that we spend a lifetime getting new glimpses into it.
The good news of Easter becomes even more majestic when laid alongside the promises of Psalm 121. The God who kept Israel now keeps us secure in the arms of Jesus. The God who has always been more powerful than any evil now equips us with the ultimate weapon of the lordship of Christ. Yes, God was there in the heart of the psalmist, and God is here in our lives through the Easter message.
Welcome kids, and wish them a happy Easter. Ask:
- Why do we celebrate Easter?
- What are some ways you celebrate Easter in your family?
- What do you like best about church on Easter Sunday?
Say: Easter is a very special day. God loves us so much that he wanted his Son, Jesus, to be with us always. Jesus loves his Father in heaven, and Jesus loves us. That’s why he was willing to die for us. Some mean people thought they got rid of Jesus by killing him, but God was more powerful. Today everything is different. It’s Easter, and Jesus is alive.
Lead children in singing worship songs.
Gather in a standing group, and read aloud John 20:1-9 as follows. Ask kids to do the motions (in section below) as you read. Make sure kids leave enough space between each other to do the motions. You might want to have a helper mime the motions for kids to follow.
The Day the Tomb Was Empty
Ask children to pray with you: Dear God, we wonder what Mary Magdalene, Peter, and John thought when they got to the empty tomb. Thank you for bringing Jesus back to life. We thank you that he lives forever. He loves us so much, and now he wants to be our Savior. Help us follow him every day. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
Say: Early (make stretching motions and yawn) on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw (Put your hands on your forehead as if peering into an opening) that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running (run in place) to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
Say: Peter and the other disciple started out for the tomb. (Make a circle with everyone and quietly run in place.) They were both running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He stooped and looked in (stop running, and bend over like you are looking into the tomb) and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he didn’t go in. Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside (jump forward). He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings (scratch your head like you’re wondering about something). Then the disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in, and he saw and believed—for until then they still hadn’t understood the Scriptures that said Jesus must rise from the dead. (Jump up and down, waving your arms.)
He’s Not Here!
Before the session, find three rooms in your church you can use for this activity. In each room, place a large sign that reads, “Sorry, He’s Not Here!”
Say: Wow! What an experience Mary Magdalene, Peter, and John had that morning. Think about it. All three of them went to the tomb and saw that the big rock had rolled away from the entrance. They looked in and found nothing but the special wrappings that had been around Jesus’ body. For a while, all they could imagine was that someone had stolen Jesus’ body. Then they wondered, What if he really has come back to life?
Tell the children they’re going hunting for Jesus just as Mary and Peter and John did. Take children to visit the rooms you chose earlier. If you’re in an area of your church where you will not disturb others, you can let children run ahead once they know which room you’re heading to. When you get to each room, ask one child to carry away the sign that reads, “Sorry, He’s Not Here!”
After visiting all the empty rooms, go back to your meeting area. Ask:
- How did you feel each time we got to a room and found the sign telling us Jesus wasn’t there?
- In what ways was your experience like what happened to Mary Magdalene, Peter, and John?
Say: When we go looking for something and don’t find it, we have lots of questions. I’m sure Peter and John wondered what had happened to Jesus’ body. The Bible says John “saw and believed.” That means he knew that Jesus was alive. What a great experience for him. That’s what God wants us to feel on Easter morning.
Have kids form groups of four to six. An adult needs to be part of each group. Give each group two cupcakes. On one cupcake, put a regular birthday candle; on the other cupcake, the “trick” candle. Tell the group you want to have a party to celebrate Easter. Read aloud Matthew 28:20b.
Say: Jesus told us he would always be with us. Let’s celebrate that.
Have the adult in each group light both candles and invite group members to blow them out. Some of the candles will keep relighting after being blown out. Let the children keep trying to blow out the trick candles. Have a bowl of water nearby so you can extinguish the candles. If you want, provide cupcakes for all the kids to eat after this activity.
Gather kids together as a large group, and ask:
- What happened to the candles?
- What were you thinking when you saw some of the candles start burning again?
- How was that experience like what God did on Easter morning?
Say: People thought they had gotten rid Jesus just as you thought you had blown out your candles. But God had other plans. Some of you didn’t know you had special candles on your cupcakes just as people didn’t know God had a special plan for Easter. God brought Jesus back to life, and Jesus is always with God now. That means he is always with us. He will never go away again because he told us so in the Bible passage I read.
Before this activity, set out the rocks and markers.
Gather the group around the area where you have set out the smooth rocks and permanent markers. Ask each child to pick a rock. Have kids form small groups so older children are with younger children. Tell them to write “God” on their rocks. Ask older children to help the younger ones.
After kids are finished, gather together in a large group. Read Psalm 121. Say: That psalm tells us that God is always watching over us and keeping us safe. Ask:
- How old do you think your rock is?
- How long do you think your rock will last?
Say: That rock is older than you or me or our church or even our country. That rock has been here a long, long time. It will be here after we die. God is like that rock. God has always been here. And now God is always with us in Jesus. That’s what happened on Easter. Take your rock home and look at it every day. Remember that God has always been here and always will be here just like that rock.
Easter Egg Prayers
Give each child an empty plastic Easter egg and a slip of paper. Say: I want you to think about how you would complete this statement: God, you are always alive. Thank you for… Write the phrase on newsprint, and tape the newsprint to a wall where kids can see it. Say: Write your prayer on your strip of paper. Fold up these strips of paper, and put them in your plastic eggs. Then put on the top. Tell the kids to open their eggs next week, take out the slip, and read it as a prayer.
Have kids form prayer circles of four to six. Ask kids to go around their circles and close with a prayer during which each child completes this sentence: God, you are always alive. Thank you for…
Time Stretcher: Easter Eating
Give kids some 11×17-inch sheets of white construction or drawing paper. Provide crayons, scissors, colored construction paper, glue sticks, and markers. Tell kids to make special placemats celebrating Easter that they can use at mealtimes. Kids should make one placemat for each person in their families. Give kids some examples of what they can put on their place mats, for example, a picture of the empty tomb, the words “Jesus is alive,” or flowers and butterflies as symbols of Easter. Ask older children to work with younger children on the project.