(Have ready to show the children a lily in full bloom and a dry bulb from which the lily grows.)
Isn't the lily beautiful? But if you could have seen this lily a few months ago you would not have thought it was beautiful at all. lt would have looked just like this. (Hold up bulb.) It would have looked like this if you could have seen it. But it would have been buried. This ugly, dry bulb, buried in the earth, can produce a lovely lily.
We can think of Jesus as like this lily. His body was dead and lifeless. It was buried, just as a bulb is buried. But on Resurrection morning, He came forth in all His life and beauty.
Because of His resurrection, we know that all Christians who have died will be resurrected, too. Have you ever been to a funeral? A dead body is like this bulb. It is buried in the earth, just as the bulb is planted in the earth. But one day God will raise up from the grave everyone who loves and follows Jesus. We are always sad when people we love die; but we know that we will see them again some day. That is why Resurrection Sunday is such a happy time for all Christians.
"Wings from Worms"
(Secure a mounted butterfly, an imitation butterfly, or a large picture of a butterfly.)
What is more beautiful than a butterfly? Do you know how a butterfly starts his life? He starts as a worm - a wooly, wiggly worm. If you didn't know that it happened, it would be difficult to believe that a worm could turn into a butterfly. But it really does happen.
Death is not a pretty thing. The death of Jesus was the ugliest death of all. But God made something beautiful out of it. In the resurrection of Jesus, God was doing the same kind of thing He does when He makes butterflies out of worms. We are always sad when people we love die; but we know that God can make something good out of it. Because of Jesus' resurrection, we know it is possible for them to live again, too.
There is something else that is very ugly. It is sin. Sin is the ugliest thing in the world. It is even uglier than death. In fact, sin is so ugly the Bible says it is like death. But the Bible also says that being forgiven for sin is like coming back from the dead, like being resurrected.
When God forgives us for our sins, He makes us into a new creature, just as He makes the new creature of the butterfly out of the old creature of the worm. God does this because He loves us. God does this when we love Him.
"Seedtime and Harvest"
The apostle Paul was writing to some very well educated city folks; and he talked to them about some of the simplest things. He talked to them about seeds. (Hold up a card with various seeds glued to it.) He talked to them about seeds because He wanted them to believe in the resurrection of Jesus. Paul knew that you have to use things people know about to explain things they don't know about.
If you didn't know about seeds, you would wonder what a farmer or a gardener was doing burying his seeds in the ground. You would think that that was the end of the seed. But it isn't. After a while, the seed sprouts. A lovely, green plant comes up. It is much larger and much more beautiful than the little seed from which it came.
When people die and are buried, some say that is the end of them. We know better. If those people who died are believers in Jesus Christ, it is not the end. just like the seed, someday God is going to raise them from the dead. He is going to raise them as certainly as He raised Jesus from the dead.
When he raises them from the dead and they go to Heaven, they will have lovely new bodies. They will be much better than their old bodies, as the plant is more beautiful than the seed. And this resurrection is just as sure to happen as a seed is sure to sprout and grow in your garden. God planned it that way. It is a way He shows how much He loves us.
"When the Seal Was Broken"
(Partially melt parrafin or sealing wax and mold into two irregular lumps. Attach one lump of wax to each end of a cord or string.)
Today, when we think of sealing something, we think of making it air-tight so that it will keep. The seal had a completely different meaning in Jesus day. When Jesus was buried, His enemies were afraid that His disciples would steal His body and say that Jesus had come back from the dead. So they asked the government to seal the tomb.
That did not mean that they made it air-tight. It simply meant that they should mark it in such a way that it would be known if anyone disturbed it; and it would be a crime if anyone disturbed it. So they took two pieces of wax, like these. They stretched the string across the edge where the stone met the doorway of the tomb. Then they pressed into the wax on either end of the string an impression. The impression was made in the wax which showed the symbols of the Roman government. Then if anybody tampered with it, they were guilty of breaking the law.
The seal didn't make it impossible to move the stone, but it made it a crime to move the stone. Then they put guards to watch the tomb. That way, if anyone did break the seal, they would know at once who it was.
Of course, nothing could keep Jesus in the tomb. He arose. Then angels came and rolled away the stone. They couldn't arrest them! When they rolled the stone away they sat on it! Isn't that a nice touch? They sat on the stone! The stone wasn't rolled away to let Jesus out. It was rolled away to let the disciples in!
'Neath the Old Olive Trees
(Hold up an olive.) This olive came from a tree. There are thousands of olive trees in the land of the Bible. The night before Jesus was crucified, He was very sad. He didn't want to leave His disciples; but He knew He had to go to the cross. He decided to pray. He went with his disciples to a place where there were lots of olive trees. We call it the Garden of Gethsemane. Gethsemane means "oil press." It was the place where the olives were pressed between stones to make olive oil.
When people today go to visit the land of the Bible, they always go to Gethsemane. They usually sing a song like "In the Garden" or" 'Neath the Old Olive Trees." Did you know that there are still olive trees there? They are very old. They have grown up from the roots of the very trees that were there when Jesus was there.
Jesus asked the disciples to wait while he prayed. Some of them fell asleep. Jesus understood, for they were very tired. But the disciples were very ashamed that they had not stayed awake while Jesus prayed.
If we try hard, we can almost see Jesus kneeling on the ground under those olive trees. We can see it in our imagination. One of the things He said there was, "Not my will, but thine be done." We all need to be like Jesus. We need to pray when we are sad or when we have difficult things to do. We need to pray, "Not my will, but Thine be done."
When we pray, God will give us strength. He
will help us to do what we have to do, just as He helped Jesus. If
someone needs our prayers, we must pray for them.