Hello and welcome to our final day of our Bring in Spring! Series.
I’ve saved the best for last, and today’s tutorial also includes a Kid’s Easter Bible Study.
You’ve seen these lovely little Easter / Resurrection Day Gardens by now, I’m sure.
They are both beautiful and meaningful, and actually quite easy to make with your children.
We’ve made them for the past two years right around this time, and they’ve served as a wonderful little teaching tool leading up to Passover / Easter, as you can informally share about Christ’s death and resurrection while you are planting it with your kids.
The garden itself can be modified in so many ways, depending on the supplies you may already have on hand.
Why not build one this Palm Sunday weekend with your children?
To make a garden like the one we made this year, you’ll need to gather a basket, pot, or even a shallow tray like the terra cotta one we used…
You’ll need a couple indoor plants, some soil, a bit of moss from the woods, a roundish-stone for the tomb’s opening, and some pebbles or rocks to form a path from the cross to the grave.
For the tomb itself, you can use a small terra cotta pot like we did, or even use a few stones together to form a sort of cave.
For the crosses, which will sit up on the hill, behind the garden, you’ll need a few sticks from nature and some string or glue.
But in addition to explaining the project, I’d like to share how you could use it this whole week leading up to Resurrection Day.
Of course you could make the entire thing in one sitting with your kids, but why not do it gradually over a few days, and use it as a step by step teaching tool to SHOW the whole beautiful story in all its glorious fullness?
There are so many details in the scene itself that provide great teachable moments, and depending on the ages of your kids, you can really go in depth with them.
So gather your supplies, and the Word, and enjoy this hands-on Easter activity and Bible study with your kiddos!
Planting the Garden
Initially, you will want to simply plant Joseph of Arimathea’s garden.
As you plant and prepare the garden together, consider sharing these things (written in green text) with your children:
* At the time that Jesus lived, there also lived a man named Joseph of Arimathea.
Although this Joseph was a very important, rich man, and most of his friends (the Sanhedrin) hated Jesus, he followed and believed in Jesus secretly. He was friends with (or at least knew) Nicodemus.
This Joseph owned a beautiful garden.
* The Bible tells us that Joseph’s garden was very near to the place where Jesus would later be crucified.
* In Joseph’s garden, there was a tomb (you can explain that it was customary at that time, for the wealthy to prepare burial places for themselves and their family members).
Enjoy planting Joseph’s lovely garden with your kids. We placed our pot near the front/middle of the tray, and I used a dab of hot glue to keep it in place there.
Add soil all around, and have your kids place one or two plants around the “tomb.”
Cover the small pot with some dirt and moss to make the scene look more natural. You can even add a few flowers (artificial or real) for some spring color if you want.
Just make it look beautiful~certainly Joseph’s garden was a lovely place.
Build up a little “hill” behind the tomb, and cover it with moss. (Don’t plant any plants there, as that’s the spot where the crosses will be later!).
Have your children use the tiny pebbles or any smooth stones to build a little path that leads around to the tomb.
At this time, you can also find a roundish stone to cover the opening of the tomb. We had one that was about the right size in our backyard landscaping, and I actually used a hammer to gently tap off the sharp corners to make it a bit rounder. (you can also see below that along the way, we painted the inside of our tomb to make it look more cave-like).
If you can’t find a stone from nature, you could use the tray base that came with your little terra cotta pot.
Water your newly planted garden and enjoy it’s beauty for a day or two if you can.
Don’t rush the story. 🙂
* The garden tomb, provided by the wealthy Joseph of Arimathea, is significant to us as believers, because it represents a fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy from Isaiah that the coming Messiah would be “with a rich man in His death.”
“He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich man in his death; though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.” Isaiah 53:9
(this prophecy will come up again, of course, when you read about the two criminals (“the wicked”) who were crucified alongside Jesus. You can explain to your children that in those times, crucifixion itself was a death reserved for the worst criminals).
Go even deeper:
There is also a neat symbolism to be found in the fact that it was a garden where Jesus was placed after His sacrifice on the cross.
Talk about it with your kids–
On the day(s) between Step 1 and Step 2, some great passages to read with your kids would be the immediate events that lead to his crucifixion.
The Biblical narrative is so profound, that it needs very little explanation, even for young children, especially if you use a simple, straightforward translation.
If at all possible, read it directly from the Word!
Key texts to read:
Mark 14:1-51 or Luke 22:1-53 or Matthew 27
The Crucifixion of Jesus
With the back (grassy) side of the garden now facing your children, read the story of our Lord’s crucifixion, beginning where you left off (with Peter’s Denial) in Mark 14:52-15:41 or from Luke’s account in Luke 22:54-23:49.
You could make the crosses beforehand with sticks and a bit of glue and/or string, or you could do this part with your kids during this day’s reading.
Have the children place the crosses on this back hill.
The place where Jesus was crucified was called Calvary, or Golgotha.
Luke 23:33 talks about the criminals who hung next to Jesus.
Be sensitive to your kids during this most sobering part of the story. Let them ask questions and make observations after you read to them from the Word. Allow the weight of it to sink into their tender hearts–
The Lord of glory, took our sins upon Himself, and died a terrible criminal’s death when we deserved the punishment.
Take some time to pray with your children, to thank Him for the cross. For paying the price of our sins. For giving His life, as the sacrificial (Passover) Lamb.
I would encourage you to read the words of Isaiah 53 to your children ~ go ahead and read the whole of that great chapter and let them recognize Christ in it for themselves!
A deeply significant scripture you could talk about with your children if they are old enough to understand would be Matthew 27:51 when the veil which separated the holy of holies from the rest of the temple, was torn in two.
Through Jesus’ death, we can now draw close to God. He made a way.
His death freed us, just as the Hebrew people were freed from the slavery of Egypt those many years ago, on the night of Passover, when the lamb’s blood was placed over their doorposts. That’s why we call Jesus the Lamb of God.
Jesus is Buried
Continue the story with the burial of Jesus–this would have taken place late in the evening, when his body was removed from the tree/cross, by none other than Joseph of Arimathea, whose garden was near the place were Jesus was crucified.
Here is what the Word tells us in Luke 23:50-53Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid.
A bit more detail comes from Matthew’s account:
As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus.
Mark’s version says:
Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body.
AND from John we read:
Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away.
And…John 19:39 says that
He (Joseph) was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.
This was unheard of in that time. Jesus died a criminal’s death, and now an important, rich man was asking permission take his body, and bury it in his OWN tomb. Pilate allowed him to take the body of Jesus and John 19:40 tells us that: they took Jesus’ body and wrapped it in linen cloths with the aromatic spices, according to the burial custom of the Jews.Can you imagine these two men, Nicodemus and Joseph, carefully carrying Jesus’ body to the garden, washing and preparing it with ointments and mhyrr, before wrapping the Lord’s body in fine linens and placing him in the tomb. What heavy hearts they must have had!
At this point, you could wrap a small figure in linen or cloth strips, and place him in the tomb. My children really enjoy playing out all parts of the story so we wrapped a small figure we made together from yarn and pipe cleaners.
Next read to your kids —
By order of Pilate (because the the Pharisees feared the disciples would try to steal Jesus’ body and tell everyone he rose from the grave as he said he would) a stone was rolled in front and the tomb, it was sealed, and soldiers were placed there to guard it
Let your children roll the stone in front of the grave to seal it.
What darkness and sadness filled the hearts of all of Jesus’ friends. How they must have cried! Their precious Jesus, their friend, and the One the truly believed was the promised Savior and the Son of God, was now dead, and lying in the tomb. This was a sad and terrible time, and the disciples of Jesus did not fully understand why God would let Jesus die. So they waited…and together, through their tears, they must have whispered about some of the strange and amazing things that Jesus had told them when He was alive…
But for now, it seemed like the enemy had won. After all, Jesus was dead and buried.
Leave the tomb sealed until you are ready for part 4, then before you begin, be sure to remove the figure but leave the cloth wrappings for your kids to find! And of course, you’ll want to crack the tomb open…
With the resurrection garden in front of you (with Jesus’ body removed and the linens laying inside the empty tomb), gather your children around for the final part of the story.
You can begin by telling them that~
Did you know…some of Jesus’ best friends were women? Women in those days were not always treated very nicely by men. But Jesus loved all people, and he always treated women AND children with compassion and love. That’s special, isn’t it?
Well, some of these women who loved Jesus very much decided to go visit the garden tomb on the third day after Jesus had died.
They took special ointments and oils with them because they too, wanted to anoint His body with some of their own perfumes.
So together, in the early morning, they came walking down the garden path…but as they went along, they began wondering who could help them roll back the heavy stone that was in front of the tomb…
But when they arrived there…Luke 24:1-10 says that they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, and when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel.
While the women were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them,
“Why do you seek the living among the dead?
He is not here, but He has risen!
Remember how He told you, while He was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified ands on the third day rise.”
Matthew 28 tells us that the women “were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to give the disciples the angel’s message. And as they went, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they ran to him, grasped his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid! Go tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there.”
You can continue your study right on through to Christ’s appearance to His disciples, and even to His ascension if you choose.With your older children, you can highlight many more of the fulfilled prophecies of the Old Testament. There is such depth to be found once you get going with ANY Bible Study, and I can hardly think of a greater joy and privilege for us as parents than to read and study the Word of God, side by side with our children.
I pray that as you build your little Resurrection Gardens, and open up the Living Bread of Life, that you AND your children will be transformed once again by the greatest story ever told.
Blessings to you, dear friends, in Jesus, our Risen Lord!