Lesson: The Empty Grave

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Use this children’s Sunday School lesson to teach kids about the resurrection of Christ and our resurrection when He comes again.

Needed: Bibles, balloons, a box, three signs saying “Sorry. He’s Not Here!”, cupcakes for each student with re-lighting candles in them

Intro Game: Don’t Let it Fall! 

Gather students in a circle. As you toss a balloon up into the air in the middle of the circle, call one of the student’s names. That student must run to hit the balloon back into the air before it touches the ground. The student next to them then runs to hit the balloon. The round continues until the balloon hits the floor.

Play as many rounds as you like. The last time the balloon drops (or if it ever pops), announce, “I’m sorry, kids. The balloon has dropped for the last time and now, it’s dead. Let’s have a funeral for our dear balloon.”

Gather the balloon and place it in the box. Say a few words over it and invite others to do the same.


Read John 19:38.

“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.”

It says that Joseph of Arimathea was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he was afraid of the Jews. Why do you think he was afraid to tell the Jews that he was a follower of Jesus? (It was against the law to believe in Jesus, so he was afraid that he would be arrested like Jesus was.)

Should he have been afraid to tell people he believed in Jesus? (No.)

We should never be afraid or embarrassed to say that we believe in Jesus. We have to stand up and speak out for Jesus so that other people can believe in Him too and be saved.

(Read John 19:39-20:18.)

“He 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. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put Him!’

“So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.

“Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

“They asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying?’

“‘They have taken my Lord away,’ she said, ‘and I don’t know where they have put Him.’ At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

“He asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?’

“Thinking He was the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where You have put Him, and I will get Him.’

“Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’

“She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means “Teacher”).

“Jesus said, ‘Do not hold on to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”’

“Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: ‘I have seen the Lord!’ And she told them that He had said these things to her.”

How did Jesus come back to life? (After Jesus died, God brought Him back to life.)

God can do anything. He can even make dead people come back to life. One day, when Jesus comes back to Earth, He will make our souls go back into our bodies and bring our bodies back to life. Our bodies will be perfect, and we will live with Jesus and God forever.

Jesus told Mary that He was going back to God. When had Jesus been with God before?

Jesus was in Heaven with God before He became a human baby. Jesus is part of God Himself.

Now that Jesus’ work of teaching us and dying on the cross for us was done, He said He was going back up to Heaven to be with God again. Someday, Jesus is going to come back to Earth to bring us all back from the dead, and we will live with Him and God forever.

Game: Don’t Let it Fall! part 2 

Play the intro game again, taking the balloon back out of the box or blowing up a new one. Explain that even though your balloon was dead, it came back to life just like Jesus came back to life and will bring all of us back to life when He comes again.

Activity: Resurrection Hunt 

Before class, find three rooms or areas in your church that you can use for this activity. In each room, place a large sign that reads, “Sorry. He’s Not Here!”

Say, Wow! What an experience Mary Magdalene, Peter, and John had that morning. Think about it. All three of them went to the tomb and saw that the big rock had been rolled away from the entrance. They looked in and found nothing but the special wrappings that had been around Jesus’ body. For a while, all they could imagine was that someone had stolen Jesus’ body. Then they wondered, What if He really has come back to life?

Today, you’re going hunting for Jesus just as Mary and Peter and John did.

(Take children to visit the rooms you chose earlier. If you’re in an area of your church where you will not disturb others, you can let children run ahead once they know which room you’re heading to. When you get to each room, ask one child to carry away the sign that reads, “Sorry. He’s Not Here!”)

(After visiting all the empty rooms, go to where you’ll be serving a snack and say:)

How did you feel each time we got to a room and found the sign telling us Jesus wasn’t there?

Mary Magdalene, Peter, and John were probably pretty disappointed when they couldn’t find Jesus’ body.

When we go looking for something and don’t find it, we have lots of questions. I’m sure Peter and John wondered what had happened to Jesus’ body. But the Bible says that John “saw and believed.” That means he knew that Jesus was alive. God wants us to know that Jesus is alive too.

Mary Magdalene, Peter, and John eventually did see Jesus. They found what they were looking for. So, since you all did such a great job looking too, I have something for you.

(Give each student a cupcake with a trick candle in it. Light the candles and have students try to blow them out.)

What happened to the candles? (They kept lighting back up.)

That’s kind of what happened on Easter morning. People thought they had gotten rid Jesus, just as you thought you had blown out your candles. But God had other plans. God brought Jesus back to life, just like your candles kept lighting back up.

Closing Prayer

Father God, we thank You for bringing Jesus back to life. And we thank You that You’re going to bring us back to life one day too. Help us to keep believing in You until that day happens. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

You can also find this lesson for Kindle or in print in my book, He Came, He Saw, He Conquered.

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