There’s so much to teach about Jesus rising from the dead. Let’s just make sure we don’t skip over these three truths.
One thing I don’t particularly like about teaching kids on Easter Sunday is the expectation that I must deliver a great lesson about Jesus’s resurrection. The resurrection is so central to the gospel that I try to teach it, or at least mention it, constantly throughout the year. This means an Easter lesson feels redundant. Shouldn’t we always be celebrating Easter?
We should. But actually, it’s probably good for me to make sure that at least once a year I teach specifically from the Bible passages that tell the story of the empty tomb. It’s also good that I’m reminded, at least once a year, to think about why I teach the resurrection. What do kids absolutely need to know about it, and am I teaching them these things?
So this year, with Easter approaching, I’ve asked myself what I want to make sure my students know. I’ve come up with three things.
1. The resurrection really happened.
When the Bible tells about the resurrection, it often speaks of evidence and witnesses. Luke and John both have extended accounts of how the disciples first doubted the resurrection but came to believe after seeing the evidence, including meeting Jesus himself. Paul’s summary of the gospel includes not only the fact that Jesus died, was buried, and rose again, but also that “he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles” (1 Corinthians 15:5–7).
The Bible writers insist this was a real, physical resurrection—the kind confirmed by seeing and touching, and accomplished by observable power that moved stones and shook the ground (see Matthew 28:2). Jesus who was dead came back to life, with his memories and self-awareness intact and his body reconstructed.
This means I have more to offer my students than vague “spiritual wellness” or feel-good coping mechanisms. The benefits that come from Jesus’s resurrection are concrete, never imaginary or disconnected from the gritty reality of life on earth. They offer real hope amid real-world sorrows, including those (like death) we don’t like to talk about.
2. The resurrection brings life to all who believe in Jesus.
Put simply, the good news of Jesus is about life for dying people—and not just a few extra years of life, but life without end!
This begins with spiritual life. We who belong to Jesus are raised with him. We are no longer under a death sentence for our sin; instead, Jesus “was raised for our justification” (Romans 4:25). By overcoming death, he victoriously completed his work to take the punishment we deserve, and we have moved from death row to freedom. Spiritual life includes the freedom to resist sin. We are no longer trapped, death-like, in behaviors we can’t escape. Rather, our new life includes powerful help to fight addictions, love our neighbors, and worship God—real, difference-making change. “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is” (Colossians 3:1).
But there’s more: we also are assured of new physical life. Jesus “will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:21). Sometime after we die, our bodies will come back to life complete with beating hearts, calculating brains, and wiggling fingers. We will have delightful bodies that no longer give in to sin, free of defect and disease, and we will live forever with Jesus. Now, that’s a concrete solution to a nagging problem!
3. The resurrection means Jesus is alive today.
Because we don’t see Jesus (his body is currently in heaven, while we are not), it’s easy to imagine his work for us was finished long ago and it’s now all up to us to believe his promises and follow his teachings. But that would be wrong. Jesus is alive now and is still working for us.
Jesus is on our side today, praying for us before the Father and leading us, his church. When we worship, he sings with us (see Romans 15:9 and Hebrews 2:12). When we go out into the world, he controls all that happens. He rules the world as King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16), and our King will never forsake us.
He is our friend today. He is our guide and teacher today. He is our brother today, reminding us that we are God dearly loved children. He is our advocate today, assuring us that every sin is forgiven and every prayer heard. Today, through the Spirit he is beside us with the power we need to live for God. Today, with great joy he looks forward to his return when we will feast with him face to face. What confidence we have as we go through life with him, our risen Savior!
Thoughts? Please share or comment below. I love feedback and discussion—it’s how we learn from each other! (Pick any name you like. Your email address will not be displayed.)