Update: 4/22/2012 Added text and instructions. Enjoy!
Are you getting ready for Easter, yet? We just pulled out the Easter box from the garage. I am excited to do one of our family's favorite traditions-Symbols of Easter! Some people call them resurrection eggs, as well. I made my set almost a decade ago as a young newlywed with no kids! I was in charge of teaching the 3-12 year olds on Easter and put this together to help teach the kids.
It has held up over the years and seen lots of use, both in church and in our family. It has become family tradition to go through the eggs while we dye our own, or while our "resurrection rolls" are baking in the oven.
We like to take turns opening the eggs and telling what part of the story of Christ's atonement and resurrection the object symbolizes. Then we read the scripture quote inside the egg. I also keep a one sheet paper of all the quotes to follow along with the kids.
Instructions for making your own set of Easter symbols:
First, print two copies of the text, below. One copy, you will cut into strips to correspond with and insert in the appropriate eggs. The other copy is nice to keep intact to follow along and to easily reorganize the eggs if anything gets misplaced or out of order.
Next, gather 14 plastic Easter eggs and number them with a permanent marker, 1-14.
Finally, gather the various objects/symbols and insert them into the appropriate numbered egg with the corresponding strip of paper.
Now prepare to do these over, and OVER with your kids! My kids love this and ask to do it several times. We usually don't read the entire text. I often times will paraphrase, or have the children tell me what the object symbolizes, and give their own explanation for what happened in that part of the scripture. Depending on how much time we have, we will also look up the scriptures referenced. Often we will do some sort of hybrid of telling in our own words, reading some of the strips, and reading some of the scripture references. (You will notice that this text is told in story format with actual quotations taken from the Bible sprinkled throughout. Some of it is my own words, some of it was shared with me back when I made my set 10 years ago....unfortunately, I don't know who to give credit to for that part! :(
Easter celebrates the final triumph of Jesus the Christ at the end of his earthly mission as he overcame both sin and death. Sometimes it is hard to find a connection between the common Easter traditions and the Atonement of the Lord. We use many traditional symbols to celebrate Easter, like Easter eggs, bunny rabbits, Easter baskets and new Easter dresses, but what is Easter really all about?
1 (Sacrament Cup)
Jesus knew that the time had come for him to suffer for our sins and die. He gathered his Apostles around him for the Passover feast, which was to be his last supper with them. There he taught them about the Sacrament so that they would always remember him and what he was about to do for them…he would bleed and suffer to take away the sins of all people upon the earth. (Matthew 26:17-30)
2 (Wash cloth/towel)
After the sacrament, Jesus took a towel and poured water in a bowl. Jesus began to wash the Apostles feet. Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, dost thou wash my feet?” Jesus said, “for I have given you an example, that ye should (wash one another’s feet)…as I have done to you.” He wanted his Apostles to remember to serve as He was serving them. (John 13:4-15)
3. (Easter Lilies)
With the light of a nearly full moon illuminating the way, Jesus and his apostles climbed the Mount of Olives to the Garden of Gethsemane. It was there, in the garden, that Jesus took upon himself not only our sins but also the pain, infirmities and anguish of our world. It was not physical pain that caused Him to suffer such torture as to bleed from every pore; but a spiritual agony of soul such as only a God was capable of experiencing. No other man, however great his powers of endurance, could have suffered so much. In that hour of anguish, Christ met and overcame all the horrors that Satan could inflict. (Matthew 26:36-44)
(There is an age old tradition that says that Lilies were found growing in the Garden of Gethsemane after Christ’s agony. Tradition has it that the beautiful white Lilies sprung up where drops of Christ’s sweat fell to the ground in His final hours of sorrow and deep distress. The symbol of the Easter Lily commemorates hope and life everlasting.) Or just talk about flowers/gardens.
4. (Three Dimes—Pieces of Silver)
A string of torch lights could be seen coming up the mount. It was a multitude of armed soldiers led by Jas Iscariot, one of Jesus’ Apostles who had been paid 30 pieces of silver to take them to Jesus. Approaching Jesus, Judas greeted Jesus and covered Him with kisses…which was the sign to the army that Jesus had been found. (Matthew 26:14-15)
5. ( Rope)
It is Friday morning. After a long night of illegal trials, Jesus was sentenced to death. With a rope tied around His hands, He was beaten, laughed at and spit upon. An exhausted Jesus was delivered to Pontius Pilate, the governor. The angry mob kept yelling, "Crucify Him!!" Pilate really didn't think that Jesus was guilty but the mob wanted Jesus dead. Pilate thought that if he scourged (whipped) Jesus and beat him until He was bleeding everywhere that the people would have pity on Him. So Pilate brought the bleeding wounded Jesus again before the crowd and said, "Behold the man!" But NO ONE would speak up for Jesus. (Matthew 27: 1-2)
When Pilate saw that he could not stop the mob, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just person." And the people shouted, "His blood be on us." (Matthew 27:24-26)
7. (Scarlet cloth-“robe”)
The soldiers wove a crown of thorns and jammed it on the tired head of Jesus making His head bleed; they placed a scarlet robe on His shoulders and then, gloating and mocking him, they whipped Him and spit upon Him saying, "Hail, King of the Jews." (Matthew 27:28-30)
The soldiers made Jesus carry a large, wooden cross to the place called Golgatha. Many times Jesus collapsed under the weight and mounting misery. The men along the road were silent; some women wept. The cross was raised between two thieves.
For capital punishment, the Romans chose the cruelest punishment of all....Crucifixion. It was a lingering death for its tortured victims. Jesus was stripped of his clothing. The soldiers nailed His hands and feet to the wooden cross and raised it so that Jesus' body would hang there. He was left to die. While He hung, the skies began to darken. (Matthew 27: 50-54)
9. (Lots-Different sized sticks)
As Jesus hung on the cross, the soldiers below Him cast lots for what was probably His only material possession, a coat. Jesus prayed in the soldiers behalf, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." As He hung in anguish, He only had loving words. To His mother, it was concern that she be cared for. To the thief who would repent, He gave hope. (Matthew 27:35-36)
At noon the heavens grew black for three hours, as if the universe itself were weeping for the agony of the Creator. In that time all the infinite agonies and merciless pains of Gethsemane returned, and His Father's spirit itself withdrew that the victory might be His. At the ninth hour, 3:00 pm, Jesus cried with a loud voice saying, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" In that eerie mid-afternoon darkness, someone ran and filled a sponge with vinegar. Having received the vinegar, Jesus said, "Father, it is finished. Thy will is done." As He died, the veil of the temple was tom in half and the earth quaked and rocks were broke into pieces. Jesus' mortal body had died. A Roman soldier witnessing the events said, ''Truly this was the Son of God."
11. (White Cloth)
Joseph, one of Jesus' disciples, went to Pilate and begged him for the body of Jesus. Pilate commanded the body to be delivered to Joseph. Joseph wrapped Jesus' body in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock. This would be Jesus' burial place. Jesus was buried in the tomb on Friday evening, for Saturday was the Sabbath and burying people on that day was not allowed. Some women wanted to put special ointments on Jesus' body to prepare it for burial, but they didn't have time, so they planned to come back as soon as the Sabbath was over to finish preparing His body.
A great stone was rolled in front of the tomb. Pilate ordered the chief Priests and Pharisees to make sure the stone was secure and ordered someone to watch and guard the tomb. (Matthew 27:60)
13. (Bay Leaf Spices)
While it was yet dark on the morning of Sunday after the crucifixion, Mary Magdalene and other women arrived at the tomb of Jesus to mourn and anoint with spices the entombed body. To their utter surprise and sadness, the stone had been rolled away and Jesus' body was not in the tomb. (Matthew 28:2-5)
14. (Empty Egg)
As Mary Magdalene lingered by the tomb, two angels appeared and said, "Why seek ye the living among the dead? Fear not ye; for we know that ye seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here for He is risen!"
Mary did not understand the words of the angels, for her sorrow at the loss of her beloved Lord was so strong. Mary turned herself away from the tomb and saw someone in the garden whom she did not recognize. He asked her, “Woman, why weepest thou? Whom seekest thou?"
Supposing Him to be the gardener, she boldly said, “Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away." Mary's love for the Lord was so powerful that she offered to physically take the body by herself and see to his proper burial.
Now came one of the greatest moments in all of history, for this man was not the gardener...it was Jesus Christ with a resurrected body of flesh and bone. And He made Himself known by simply calling her by name in tones so familiar: "Mary".
Now she saw, becoming the first witness of the risen Lord. Her tears of sorrow turned to joy as she exclaimed, "My beloved master!!"
Although the events of the first Easter happened almost two thousand years ago, the story of Jesus does not end there.
Still He lives, and still He loves us. He has again set up His Church on the earth so that we can have the
blessings of the gospel.
And that is the miracle of Easter…
Jesus Christ has triumphed over sin and death.
Does anyone else do "resurrection eggs"? What variations do you use? I would love to know what other Easter-time family traditions you have.