Note to the Teacher
The scripture we read today is the story of the resurrection of Christ. It looks at those first people who encountered the empty grave. The ice breaker invites youth to get ready to run to the tomb by taking some time to stretch and do some light exercises. The discussion engages students by having them look at the stories of those who encountered the empty tomb. The activity allows youth to expend energy and also dig deeper into what the Resurrection story is all about. Times are based on a fifty-minute lesson period but may be adjusted.
1. Ice Breaker: Get Ready to Go! (10 minutes)
In this ice breaker, you will guide students through a series of stretches to get them ready to race the disciple, Peter. Start by inviting students to stand up and get ready to do some stretches. You may do any of the following stretches or add your own. The goal is to get everyone up and moving around.
Stretches: (Hold each stretch for ten seconds)
- Bend down and with your feet together, touch your toes. Hold for ten seconds and then stand back up.
- Spread your legs apart and bend down and touch your left foot. Then alternate feet and hold for another ten seconds.
- Standing straight up, grab one foot and pull it toward your back. Then alternate feet and hold the other foot back for another ten seconds.
- Invite students to stand on their tiptoes and reach toward the sky. Have them hold this stretch for ten seconds.
- Ask students to sit on the ground and lean over to try to touch their toes.
- Have students do the "butterfly" stretch by putting their feet together and pushing down on their knees.
Feel free to add more stretches as you see fit.
Want to take things to the next level? Play some pump-up workout music while you stretch. Or skip the stretches and go straight to a workout! Take five to ten minutes and lead students in a series of exercises. Use any of the following exercises and feel free to add some of your own. Times may vary; however, try to have students do each exercise for around thirty seconds.
- Jumping Jacks
- Push Ups
- Sit Ups
- High knees
Now that students have their heart rates up, invite them to get out their Bibles and follow along as you read how the disciples ran to the tomb where Jesus was buried.
2. Read Scripture (5 minutes)
Our scripture reading today is the story of the resurrection of Jesus. On this Easter Sunday, we will look into the empty tomb and see that Jesus is no longer there. Ask students to put themselves into the story by imagining they were there, near the tomb, at the time.
3. Discussion (15 minutes)
Discussion based on the reading from John 12:1-18:
- Ask a student to sum up what just happened in this reading.
- What sticks out or shocks you the most? Why?
- How did Mary feel when she noticed Jesus was no longer in the tomb?
- Have you ever misplaced something very important to you and couldn’t find it? How did that make you feel? How did you feel when you finally found it?
- Who was the first person to get to the tomb? [Answer: The other disciple (v. 4).]
- Who was the first person to enter the tomb? [Answer: Simon Peter (v. 6).]
- What would make you not enter the tomb if you were the first disciple?
- After the disciples had seen the empty tomb, they went back to their homes and Mary stayed weeping outside the tomb. Who is she visited by and what do they say to her? [Answer: Mary is visited by two angels (v. 12) and Jesus (v. 14). The angels ask Mary why she is crying, and Jesus tells her that he will be ascending into heaven and to go and tell the disciples (v. 17).]
- Have you ever had an encounter with Jesus that you wanted to share with everyone? If so, would you feel comfortable sharing with this group?
Discussion based on the reading from Mark 16:1-8:
- What are some of the similarities and differences between the two readings? (If you’re able, this may be a good time to write these things down.)
- What were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus doing at the tomb? [Answer: They visited the tomb to bring spices, so they could anoint Jesus’ body and prepare it for burial (v. 1).]
- Whom do they encounter inside the tomb? [Answer: A young man dressed in a white robe (v. 5).]
- What does the young man in the tomb specifically tell the women? [Answer: “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who is crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell the disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you” (v. 6-7).]
- The young man tells the women to “go and tell the disciples and Peter . . .” Why do you think Mark’s gospel sets aside Peter in the text?
- Verse 8 it says that the women “said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” Why do you think they were afraid?
- In both stories, the text says that the disciples, Peter, and the women go back to their homes and say nothing to anyone about what they had seen. But if nobody had said anything, we wouldn’t have this story to share. Make sense? Somebody couldn’t help sharing! Have you ever had something happen to you that you just couldn’t help but tell somebody about it?
- The Gospel writer is using a literary device to make a point about the crucifixion and resurrection The disciples didn’t have to say or do anything to make this Easter moment happen. How can doing nothing be significant? Well, the answer lies in the question “What can we do to deserve the resurrected Christ in our lives?” The answer is the same – NOTHING! Easter is not about what we can do; it’s about what was done for us on the cross and the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
4. Activity and Discussion (20 minutes)
Ask students to stand and get ready for a race. If you are doing this activity in person, make sure to set up this activity ahead of time. Here’s what you need to do:
Larger Group (fifteen or more): For a larger group, this game will act as a relay race. Line up your students in two to four or more groups depending on the size of your group. Have a starting line for each group (you may use cones or tape) and put a small table by the starting line. You will also need a table at the center of the room, where you will put all the towels and washcloths (one per person) in a big, messy pile. Students will run down and pick up one item and return it to the starting line where they will have to fold it neatly and put it on the table. Once a runner has completed the folding, the next runner goes. The winner is the group that can complete the folding and running the fastest. If time allows, switch up the teams and try the race again.
Smaller Group (fewer than fifteen): For a smaller group, you may want to have students compete one on one. Mark out a starting line about twenty to fifty feet away from a table where you have place two towels and one wash cloth. You will also need a smaller table by the starting line. Students will run down and pick up one item and return it to the starting line where they will have to fold it neatly and put it on the table. After they have done that, they can go and get another item and do the same. The winner is the person who can fold the three items the fastest. You may choose to do this activity as a bracket game and advance the winners until you get two final students.
If you are doing this activity virtually, it will still be a lot of fun! First, tell students that you are going to have them get a few objects in their homes. Remind them to be careful not to break anything. When you say go, have students bring back two towels and a washcloth (preferably clean and not used). The first student back wins. Congratulate students for not breaking anything and remind them to put up their towels and washcloths when the activity is finished.
Transition to the following questions and discussion.
- What is the most significant event that has happened in your life?
- How did that event change the way you live and believe?
If you have a larger group, you may want to break into smaller groups for this time of sharing. Spend about five minutes in these groups, allowing everyone the opportunity to talk.
After everyone has had the opportunity to talk, remind students that because of the resurrection of Jesus, we are made new each and every day. Not because we can fold towels the quickest or run faster than Simon Peter – we are made new each day because of the grace of God. Nothing we can do earns us this grace. It’s a free gift given to us through the power of the resurrected Savior, Jesus Christ. Also, even we can forget to tell our stories about our own life-changing moments unless we are invited to do so!
Close your time together in a manner that is typical for you. Consider taking joys and concerns, then asking for a volunteer to close in prayer.
Total time: 50 minutes
- Painter’s tape or cones
- Towels and washcloths for each group (number will vary, depending on the size of your group)
- Two tables for each team or group