I love Easter Sunday. I love being at church where we are all gathered for the same purpose — to worship the risen Christ and to remember the suffering and agony and weight of sin and separation from God the Father and death He bore in our place, but also His triumph over death, sin, hell, and Satan by rising again three days later. I have come to love the greeting “He is risen!” and the response “He is risen indeed!” Of course we rejoice in this all year round, but it seems especially meaningful to remember each day of Holy Week what Jesus was going through at that time on my behalf.
Today is Good Friday, the day Jesus bore the sin of the world — my sin — and the full wrath of and separation from God the Father, so that I might have full forgiveness and be able to draw near to God.
Consequently, he [Jesus] is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
This is the day Jesus prepared for by praying with great sweat drops of blood when His disciples couldn’t stay awake to pray with Him. This is the day that dawned after a sleepless night, betrayal by His friend, and six unfair trials. This is the day a bleeding, bruised Jesus was forced to carry His own cross till He could carry it no more. Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” as he was beaten, tortured, mocked, nailed to a cross.
On the day Christ was born, the night sky was filled with light and angels singing His arrival. This is the day that the earth went dark from noon to 3pm as its Maker hung on a tree though He had power at His disposal to call thousands of angels to rescue Him, to obliterate the earth if He wanted. This is the day He cried, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” This is the day that one cross-bound thief beside Jesus joined in the mocking, and the other rebuked him, reminded him of their guilt, their just punishment, and Christ’s innocence, saying, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom,” to which Jesus replied, “Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
This is the day the veil of the temple was torn in two — from the top to the bottom, showing that no man had split it — God did. This is the day Jesus cried, “It is finished!” and gave up His Spirit. This is the day the centurion watched Him die and testified, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” This is the day when the crowds who had gathered to watch this spectacle returned home beating their breasts when they saw what happened. This is the day that the earth shook, the rocks were split, the tombs were opened, and many bodies of deceased saints were raised. This is the day Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for Jesus’ body, wrapped it in linen and laid it in his own tomb with the help of Nicodemus, fulfilling Isaiah 53:9.
In addition to meditating on the sufferings of the Savior, I try to do an activity each Good Friday with my daughter that focuses on an aspect of Christ’s work. This year (and most years) we made Empty Tomb Rolls (directions & photos below). One year we got together at my mom’s house with most of my siblings and their families and as we talked about Good Friday, out on the deck in the warm evening air, we began singing hymns, one after another… the ones that really talk about Jesus’ suffering and death and resurrection. Music is such a powerful way to help your mind dwell on the glories of Christ.
“Kids always remember stuff they can make, eat, and hold in their hands,” says Nicole Whitacre on the Girltalk blog, and I have found that to be true with these ideas for hands-on teaching about Easter.
Easter Treats that Teach
Cross cookies – I have a set of nativity scene cookie cutters that I love using at Christmas time, so I was delighted to find a set of Resurrection-themed cookie cutters in my grocery store a few years back. Set of 4 cutters included a lamb, Bible, cross, and church. Usually we just stick with the cross, using it to cut out sugar cookies which we bake and then I pipe icing messages such as “He is Risen!” or “Hallelujah!” or whatever is concise enough to fit on the small cookie.
Resurrection Cookies – Here is a recipe that we are trying for the first time this year – each of the ingredients has symbolism, as does the preparation process… a sober reminder of what Jesus suffered and what his followers must have been thinking as He was placed in the grave.
Cross cake – My mom has had a cross-shaped cake pan for years that I often used to bake a cross-shaped cake or used as a jello mold. I’ve also used my lamb cake pan to bake a cake reminding us of “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!” (John 1:29).
Coloring Eggs – I didn’t know the background on this tradition till a friend sent me this Gospel Coalition article: “In Medieval Europe, Christians would abstain from eating eggs and meat during Lent. Eggs laid during that time were often boiled to preserve them and were given as Easter gifts to children and servants. Some traditions claim the Easter egg is symbolic of the resurrection of Jesus, with the shell of the egg representing the sealed Tomb and cracking the shell representing the Resurrection. Christians in the Middle East and in Greece painted eggs bright red to symbolize the blood of Christ.”
We may or may not do these from year to year, but when we do choose to dye/decorate eggs, I like to buy a dye kit that includes the white crayon so we can write Bible verses or messages pointing to the Resurrection on the eggs (“He is Risen!” “Hallelujah!”) that becomes visible when the egg is dipped in the dye. Then we enjoy the eggs’ addition of protein to our Empty Tomb Rolls for a quick breakfast before church. Other years when my husband has to work on Easter Sunday, I get an earlier start so we can have a special breakfast before church since there isn’t time afterward for a leisurely dinner.
Empty Tomb Rolls – This is one of my favorite visuals that we’ve done several years now! Also called “Resurrection Rolls.” Children can help dip a marshmallow in butter and then cinnamon & sugar, representing the spices His body was anointed with.
Then wrap the marshmallow in a crescent roll, tightly sealing the edges so marshmallow won’t ooze out.
Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees.
When you bite into them (or cut into them – I like to show my daughter the cutaway view before we eat them), the marshmallow has disappeared leaving hollowed the space that it occupied. Amazing visual for kids! I’ll never forget the look of understanding that crossed her face the first year we made these. I’d told her about the empty tomb before, but this visual really helped her grasp the wonder of it. (These also make a yummy breakfast coupled with all those hardboiled eggs. Use the verses or thoughts you’ve written on the eggs as a starting point for your discussions on the resurrection to start out your Easter Sunday morning.
How do you observe Good Friday?