I tell it like this to my kids: After the Lord's supper, Jesus and 11 disciples departed to the Mount of Olives where Jesus asked his disciples to pray so they would not want to sin. Then Jesus went farther into the garden to talk to God by himself. Jesus was very sad. He knew that he was about to be very hurt even though he didn't do anything wrong. He cried and asked God if there was any other way God could destroy sin, but Jesus said he would do whatever God wanted. He would obey. Jesus went back to check on his disciples and they had fallen asleep. He woke them up and told them that the people coming to arrest him were coming.
Judas, one of Jesus' disciples, told the soldiers where to find Jesus. The soldiers came to arrest Jesus. One of Jesus' disciples took out his sword and started to fight the soldiers. But Jesus stopped him and said not to fight.
The soldiers took Jesus to stand in front of a big crowd. The crowd did not like Jesus. They were very mean to him, making fun of him and hitting him. They told the leaders that they wanted Jesus to die on a cross. They yelled crucify him! So the leaders said that Jesus must die.
Act 4: Crucifixion and Resurrection Luke 23:18-24, Matthew 27:32-50, Luke 24:1-12, 36-43
The crowd made Jesus carry a big cross up a hill and then they put nails in his arms and legs to hold him on the cross. Jesus asked for God's help, he said Father where are you? But God had turned away from Jesus because all of the sin in the whole world was coming down on Jesus. The crowd yelled mean things to Jesus. They said if you really are God, why don't you just come down off that cross? Jesus could have come down, but he loved us so much that he stayed. He knew that he must die so that we could be friends with God. Then, Jesus let himself die. The people took Jesus' body and laid him in a tomb and rolled a really big stone in front of the entrance so nobody could get in.
Jesus' friends were sad and afraid, so they went hide in a room. One of Jesus' friends, Mary, went to the tomb to check on Jesus' body. When she got there she was really surprised to see the stone rolled away and Jesus' body was gone! She thought someone had taken his body, but then an angel appeared to her and told her that Jesus has risen from the dead! He is alive! Mary was so excited she ran to tell Jesus' friends who were hiding. Jesus came to the room where they were and showed them that he had risen!
At this point, you can celebrate Jesus being alive! Let your kids know that Jesus is still alive, living in heaven with God until it is time for him to come back!
I did the whole play yesterday for Monkey, Bear, and two friends. They all sat and watched eagerly, and when the final curtain closed they asked for more! It has turned out to be a really fun way to share and review the Easter story.
Follow up activities:
Resurrection eggs - you can find patterns for these all over the place like here and here. I am planning on using these in our preschool Sunday school class at church and sending a set home with each child, so I like to put them in egg cartons with the description of each item attached to the lid. It is fun to have the kids fill the eggs one at a time while you explain what each piece means. You could also just have a class set and hide the eggs around the room. Have the kids find one or two each (give each child a chance to find at least one) and then go over the contents as a class.
Here is the list of contents:
1. Triumphal Entry (Matthew 21:1-9) Symbol: donkey
2. Jesus washes disciple's feet (John 13:1-20) Symbol: washcloth
3. Lord's supper (Matthew 26:26-29) Symbol: cracker
4. Jesus prays in the garden (Matthew 26:36-46) Symbol: praying hands
5. Jesus arrested (Luke 22:47-54) Symbol: rope
6. Peter's denial (Matthew 26:69-75) Symbol: rooster
7. Judas returns silver (Matthew 27:3-9) Symbol: silver coins
8. Jesus on trial (John 18:28-32) Symbol: king's crown
9. Crowd wants to crucify Jesus (John 19:1-16) Symbol: crown of thorns
10. Jesus crucified (John 19: 17-37) Symbol: 3 nails
11. Jesus buried (John 19:38-42) Symbol: rock
12. Resurrection (Luke 24:1-12) Symbol: empty egg
Read the Bible to your children - This true story takes repetition for young children. The more they hear the story, the more questions they will have so be ready! I like to read from my Bible and also from different children's Bibles. My favorite children's Bible is The Jesus Storybook Bible. It has great illustrations, and every story points to Jesus.
I hope you all have a wonderful Easter weekend and find joy in celebrating the resurrection of our Savior!
He is risen, He is risen indeed!