Easter - Activity

We live and die, Christ died and lived - this is Easter!!!

Many of us have heard about Jesus Christ. He lived among us as both God and man and was born to human parents, Mary and Joseph, in a little village called Bethlehem. Jesus Christ is a Hebrew name. Jesus means the one who will save us from our sins and Christ means The Anointed One. What happened at Easter explains why we give him this title.

Looking at ourselves, we can see we are very prone to doing wrong (sin). God sent his Son to live as a human being and teach us how to live a good and honest life, how to follow Gods law of love and how to love one another. By living as a human Jesus went through and understood every human emotion and difficulty. He showed us how to manage these emotions and difficulties in a way that is pleasing to God, rather than giving into them and displeasing God.

For the first thirty years Jesus lived a traditional Jewish life in Israel under Roman dictatorship. Jesus began his public teaching and service in his thirties and even though he never travelled far from Bethlehem, his reputation spread throughout Israel. The Roman governors and the Jewish leaders took note of his growing popularity and were deeply troubled by his key messages, which they found so different to their own laws and teachings.

When asked how he was able to perform miracles Jesus told his followers his power came from God his Father, not from his own abilities. He told them that his teachings would always remain and should he be killed God will bring him back to life on the third day. This turned out to be his most controversial statement – his claim to be the Son of God. His followers didn’t understand it and his critics said this broke Jewish and Roman laws. And for this reason the religious leaders asked the Roman government to execute him. However, at each trial they put him through, the counsel found he was not guilty of breaking any Roman or Jewish law. The trials established that Jesus was an innocent man. But fearing his growing popularity they persuaded Pontius Pilate, a Roman governor, to authorize his execution. And this brings us to the weeklong Easter event. (John 17-20)

Easter Week begins on Palm Sunday, which is the Sunday before Easter Sunday, and ends on Easter Sunday. There are three important days during this week. Palm Sunday is the day people took Jesus through the streets like a king, spreading palm branches on the roads for him to walk on. Maundy Thursday is when Jesus, knowing he was about to be killed, had a special meal with his disciples (The Last Supper), and was arrested later that night. Good Friday is the day Jesus was crucified (nailed by his hands and feet to an upright wooden cross, where he was left hanging till he died). On Sunday Jesus rose from the dead, this is Easter Sunday.

After the Last Supper, Jesus knew the time of his death was at hand. He was troubled and afraid and went to a nearby garden called Gethsemane to pray. If Jesus is God why was he afraid, you may rightly ask. Jesus lived his humanity to the full experiencing every human emotion, as we’ve said earlier. In this instance he showed us it is normal to fear suffering and pain. The difference between Jesus and us is the way he prayed when he faced this challenge. He didn’t ask God to stop it, as we do, he didn’t ask God to make it easier for him, as we do, he didn’t remind God he is a good person living a good life and so shouldn’t suffer. Instead he begged God for strength and ended his prayer with the words, “Not my will but yours be done”.

While he was praying, Judas who was one of his disciples came with a crowd, walked up to him and kissed him on the cheek. This was to identify that Jesus was the person they were looking for. Judas was paid thirty silver coins to do this. The crowd arrested Jesus. His followers ran away in fear. The crowd took Jesus to a trial held by the Jewish religious leaders who said he should die because he claimed to be the Son of God.

The next day, Good Friday, they took Jesus to Pontius Pilate and told him that Jesus should die. Pilate finally agreed and the soldiers led him away, gave him a heavy wooden cross to carry up a hill to the place where the worst criminals were crucified, called Golgotha. When Jesus was crucified, his body was pulled downwards by his nailed feet and airflow to his lungs was restricted, killing him in three hours. He was taken down from the cross and buried in a tomb. Pilate ordered two Roman guards to guard the tomb and a huge stone to be rolled against its entrance, so that no one could steal Jesus’ body. Jesus’ friends left feeling very sad.

That was because they did not know what was going to happen next.

Early on Sunday morning (Easter Sunday) some of Jesus’ friends went to the tomb to finalise his burial rites according to Jewish custom. To their surprise, the stone was rolled aside, the guards had vanished and the tomb was empty!! They stared at the tomb in disbelief and at that moment an angel appeared to them and told them Jesus had risen from the dead. They recalled Jesus telling them that he would return to life after three days, if he was killed. This was a life changing moment, because for the first time they accepted that Jesus was who he claimed to be. He was the Son of God, and not just another Jewish Rabbi.

They ran to tell others, and on the way, met Jesus himself but didn’t recognize him till he spoke. Jesus knew his disciples and followers would find it hard to grasp his resurrection because they ran away in fright when the Roman guards took him to be executed. He did things to reassure them that the person they were seeing was truly him – the same person that had died on the cross. He walked with them, ate with them, showed them the wounds on his hands and feet and when one of them (Thomas) was still struggling to believe, he allowed him to touch his wounds.

Their joy at seeing him return to life could not be contained and they quickly went around sharing the good news. This time they were not afraid of Roman persecution as they knew that this little boy who was born in a stable and had grown up among them was divine. They finally understood God’s complete control over life and death and they accepted that Jesus was the Son of God and he alone was worthy of their worship.

What is the significance of this extraordinary event? What does it mean for how we live, work and worship? Here are some of life’s lessons that Easter teaches:

  • 1. There will always be suffering in our lives. Things will go wrong, our plans won’t always be successful, we won’t always get what we want or pray for, our health will fail us. In these times, we remember God’s power over all things, we remember he loves us more than anyone else can and that he will help us through our difficulties, if we ask him to.
  • 2. Easter teaches us to forgive because in Jesus’ death God forgave us our sins. We seek Gods forgiveness daily, we in turn must forgive others and not seek revenge or hold grudges. Even when he was on the cross Jesus prayed for those who persecuted him, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”.
  • 3. When your friends fail you, remember Jesus was betrayed for thirty silver coins.
  • 4. Never judge yourself as better than others. Jesus was far above his followers in every way but yet he served them. No problem was too small for him to notice, he walked miles to reach people in need. He helped them knowing they could never repay him.
  • 5. Live a simple life, be grateful for what you have. God has chosen your life for you, and everything that happens in it. Accept the path you have to travel as his will and you will feel happy and fulfilled. Somebody else’s life may seem better but your life is perfect for you.
  • 6. Pray at all times. Prayer is your inner strength because it keeps you close to God and when you are close to Him you have nothing to fear, no harm can come to you.

So where do Easter Eggs, Easter bunnies and chocolate fit in? They are just external signs of celebration, traditions that people have made popular because they enjoy following them.

Originally, church leaders did not allow people to eat eggs during Holy Week. Families saved the eggs their chickens laid that week, boiled and painted them and gave them to children on Easter morning. People then made egg shapes out of cardboard and later papier mache, filled them with treats and got children to paint these and hand out as presents. People also saw the egg as a symbol of new life and so used it as a symbol of the new life that’s celebrated at Easter. Soon other ideas started being used like making chocolate, marzipan or sugar icing eggs instead of boiling eggs. To add more fun people started the Easter Egg hunts and Easter Egg rolling, two popular traditions followed even today.

An egg hunt involves hiding eggs in the garden for children to find on Easter morning. Egg rolling is when hard boiled eggs are rolled as a symbolic re-enactment of the rolling away of the stone from Jesus’ tomb. In the United States, the Easter Egg Roll is an annual event held on the White House south lawn each Monday after Easter. This is a family day, entry is won by public lottery and the winners spend a day of family activity with the President and the First Lady.

The story of the Easter Bunny is thought to have originated in Germany. Rabbits usually give birth to a big litter of babies (called kittens), so they became a symbol of new life. Legend has it that the Easter Bunny decorates and hides eggs for children to find on Easter Sunday. Though the rabbit doesn’t do the work alone. In Switzerland Easter eggs are delivered by the Easter Cuckoo and in Australia by the Easter Bilby (small rat like animal).


THE GARDEN TOMB, Jerusalem

Looking at the meaning of Easter and the traditions associated with it we can see that traditions change to suit our convenience. We do the things we like and they become tradition. We avoid the things we don’t like and those traditions slowly disappear. In contrast, Jesus’ resurrection was and remains the most amazing divine event of all time. It is recorded in Jewish and Roman history, and the sites of his birth, death and resurrection and the places where he lived and worked are preserved in Jerusalem and available for the public to visit. Easter proves who Jesus is, it shows us that God accepted his sacrifice on our behalf, it shows us that God has created all things and has power over everything, even life and death. Unlike tradition, these facts have not changed for the last 2000 years, there are no updates or versions of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Easter helps us accept our present circumstances, gives us courage to meet our trials and hope for the future because our future belongs to God.

A Blessed Easter to each one.

Swami’s various quotes on Jesus and The Easter

1. Try to be like Jesus. Jesus was a person whose only joy was in spreading Divine love, offering Divine love, receiving Divine love and living on Divine love. Jesus was a supremely pure and sacred person. ( 25 December 1979)

2. Jesus was to shatter the darkness that had enveloped the world… to spread the light of love in the heart of man and councils of humanity. (24 December 1972)

3. Jesus was the epitome of compassion and the refuge of the poor, needy and forlorn. But, many people tried to create troubles for Jesus, since they did not like his sacred teachings and activities. Their hatred for Jesus increased day by day. Even the priests turned against Jesus as they became jealous of his growing popularity. Many people out of jealousy laid obstacles in his path and even tried to kill him. (25 December 2000)

4. Christ sacrificed his life for the sake of those who put their faith in him. He propagated the truth that service is God, that sacrifice is God. Even if you falter in the adoration of God, do not falter in the service of the living God. Be ready to sacrifice even your life for the sake of God. The spirit of sacrifice is essential. To speak about devotion without a spirit of sacrifice is meaningless. If the name of Jesus is glorified all over the world today, it is because of his boundless love. He served the lowly and the lost, and in the end, he offered his life itself as a sacrifice .( 25 December: 1970, 1998, 1993)

5. Jesus’ critics complained to the head priest against him. They tempted one of his disciples with 30 silver pieces, to betray him into their hands. The disciple who was most loved, Judas by name, decided to work against the Master, yielding to the low temptation of a few pieces of silver. Greed for money is a demon that gets hold of the weak. Jesus’ critics told the Roman ruler that Jesus was attempting to assert himself as king and so he should be punished for treason. The priest knew that Jesus was speaking the truth, but he did not support him in order to safeguard his own position. Their insistences made the Governor order his crucifixion. (25 December 1978, 23 November 1979, 25 December 2001)

6. Jesus wished well for those who insulted and injured him. He knew that God wills all. So, even on the cross he bore no ill-will towards any one and he exhorted those with him to treat all as instruments of God’s Will. (25 December 1982)

Jesus is Alive! (Easter Story for Children)

On Thursday night, while praying in a garden, Jesus was taken to the Romans. On the next afternoon, which was a Friday, Jesus was put to death by hanging on a cross. (In the centuries to follow, Christians called this day Good Friday.)

After Jesus died, a man named Joseph (from a place called Arimathea) put Jesus in His tomb that nobody had ever used.  The tombs they used then were cut out of rock, almost like a cave, they weren't buried deep in the ground like they are now. Before Joseph left, he and some men rolled a large heavy stone in front of the tomb.

Jesus’ closest disciples, Mary and Mary Magdalene made spices and oils as a sign of respect to Jesus and went very early Sunday morning to go see His body.

As they were just about at the tomb, the earth suddenly shook and an angel came down from heaven.He easily rolled away the stone at the entrance of the tomb and sat on top of it.

The women looked at each other and rubbed their eyes since they couldn't believe what they had seen. The angel was so bright -- almost as bright as lightning!  His clothes were as white as snow.

There had been guards watching the tomb so no one would steal Jesus' body. When they saw the angel, they fell over and they couldn't move or speak because they were so afraid.

Then the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid.  I know you are looking for Jesus who has died. But He isn't here; He has risen just as He said He would!  Come and see for yourself, the tomb is empty."

The women were confused. How could this happen?  They were sure Jesus had died, and now He was alive? They looked in the tomb and the cloth Jesus had been wrapped in, was lying on the ground; the tomb was empty. Then the angel spoke again, "If you want to find Jesus, He's on his way to Galilee."

So the women hurried away, They were laughing and crying at the same time.  They didn't know what to feel; they had been so sad that Jesus was dead and now they were so excited that He was alive!  They just knew they had to find Jesus, and they had to tell the disciples the good news.

As they were running down the path, they turned a corner, and there was Jesus.  "Greetings," He said.  The ladies fell at His feet and worshiped him.  Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid.  Go and tell my disciples to come to Galilee. That is where they will see me." 

The disciples came to Galilee, having heard by this time that Jesus was alive.  They were sitting around talking about it when Jesus walked into the room and said to them, "Peace be with you." 

The disciples immediately stopped talking.  Even though they had heard He was alive, they were shocked to see Him standing there with them. Jesus said to them, "Why do you look at me like you've just seen a ghost?  Why don't you believe what you're seeing?  Look at the scars in my hands and feet.  It is really me!  Touch me and see, I am not a ghost but a real person."

The disciple's mouths were open in amazement because they still didn't know what to think.  They were so full of joy, and yet it was impossible.  Jesus understood what they were thinking, so He said, "This is what I told you would happen" . Jesus had told the disciples when they had the Last Supper together; they took the bread at communion and Jesus said, "this is my body which I have given to you..." but the disciples hadn't understood what it really meant.

Then Jesus told them, "You have seen these things that have happened, so stay in the city and soon I am going to give you what God has promised you: the Holy Spirit."

Jesus had one more person to see.  His name was Thomas, and he was one of the disciples that wasn't there when Jesus met with them.  Thomas had also heard that Jesus was alive, but would not believe until he saw Jesus with his own eyes.

A week later when Thomas finally saw Jesus, Jesus said to him, "Put your finger here; see my hands.  Stop doubting and believe."  But Jesus continued, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; but it is more amazing for those who don't see me, and believe anyway."

That is exactly what faith is: 'believing in God even though you can't see Him.'

[Ref : http://www.dltk-bible.com]
He is not here, He has risen !
Sunrise Surprise (Colouring)
Easter Sunrise Surprise (video)

Find Jesus (Maze)
Easter Tomb Craft
(Best out of Waste)
Emblem

Values inculcated :
  • Team work
  • Developing Faith in God
  • Understanding the importance of the teachings of Jesus like kindness, forgiveness, love etc.

Materials required :
  1. Paper plate
  2. Straws 5 no's
  3. Craft glue
  4. Green colour acrylic paint
  5. Card board piece such that it has 2 parts joined such that one is bigger than the other.
  6. Paint brush
  7. Sketch pens or market pen
  8. Scissors

Getting Ready : The Guru can narrate the story of Easter to children and discuss about the great qualities and teachings of Lord Jesus.

Activity:

Emblem_1

1. Cut the paper plate in half. Cut a half oval shape in the centre of the plate as shown above.

Emblem_2

2. Paint the paper plate with the green acrylic paint.

Emblem_3

3. Cut 3 paper straws into 2 pieces such that one is longer than the other.

Emblem_4

4. Glue the straws and make cross as shown above.

Emblem_5

5. Make three crosses.

Emblem_6

6. Glue the paper plate to the short side of the card board.

Emblem_7

7. Glue the crosses and draw the picture of Jesus Christ on the paper plate cut out from step 1 and glue it inside the opening of the tomb.

Emblem_8

8. Cut the small piece of triangle from the card board left over.

Emblem_9

9. Glue the triangle piece to the back side of the cardboard and make stand .

Emblem_10

10. Decorate the cardboard as you wish.

Emblem_11

11. Make the child write the bible verse Matthew 28:6 . This will be the stone that was rolled away. Place it next to the tomb opening.

- Craft work by K. Sai Aravind & K. Sri Ram
(Balvikas Students)

Cross Out The Ego (Video)

Easter Fun
(Group Activity)

These games are so simple, but young children thrive on simplicity.  Add a few Easter treats or other rewards and they’ll be keen to play the games again and again.  

Values inculcated :
  • Team work
  • Significance of Easter
  • Developing Love in God
  • Understanding the importance of the teachings of Jesus like kindness, forgiveness, love etc.

Materials required :
Preparatory Effort :
  • Gurus to know the resurrection story.
  • Narrate the resurrection story to children.
  • Children to listen carefully and play the game afterwards

GAME 1: ALL MIXED UP

If you want to play this game with lot of children, print off a set of cards for each or enough for pairs.  

  • Mix all the cards up and have the children put the story in order from left to right.  
  • If you’re playing with a big group, whoever can sort them first, wins!  
  • This game can be played by blindfolding one child!  Mix the cards up and put them in front of the blindfolded person.  The person with the blindfold is the only one who can touch the cards.  Their partner would tell them what is on the card and help them put the cards in order by giving them verbal directions.

GAME 2: HIDE AND SEEK
  • Another easy one; just hide the cards and have the children find them and put them in order.
  • If you are playing in a big group, print the cards on different coloured paper.  Give each child or team a colour to find.  
  • First team to put their cards in order, wins!

GAME 3: CAN YOU READ MY MIND?
  • Go over each of the cards with the children and talk about each event.  
  • Then write down in a secret place which card you are thinking about.  
  • The children have to read your mind by asking yes or no questions about which resurrection card they think AND
SIGNIFICANCE OF JESUS’ RESURRECTION

For a Christian, the resurrection of Jesus is essential to knowing that Jesus was Divine and that his teachings were Divine. St. Paul – whom Sai Baba said “was originally an inveterate critic of Jesus, (but) was transformed by Christ’s love into the greatest apostle of Jesus and the first propagator of the Christian faith” – stated the importance of Jesus’ resurrection to Christians in a letter to an early Christian community:

 

If Christ had not been raised from the dead, our preaching is useless and so is your faith… (and) you are still in your sins. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead. (1 Corinthians 15:15, 17, 20)

Jesus’ physical resurrection points back to the early days of Jesus’ ministry when he spoke of our need to be resurrected and reborn in a different way – in the knowledge and direct experience of God:

I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. (Jesus – John 3: 3, 6)

Swami’s explanation about this “resurrection” and the lessons we learn from it:

What is the resurrection, really? It is the revelation of the divinity inherent in man. That is the result of contact with the Godhead; that can come only after years of contrition. Man is led into the wrong belief that the accumulation of material possessions will endow him with joy and calm. But Divine Love (Prema) alone can give that everlasting joy. Divine Love alone will remove anger and envy and hatred. ( 28 February 1964 )

The Significance of the Crucifixion
Jesus and Judas

Tradition-minded and egoistic men considered Jesus a false prophet and they tried by every means to thwart His mission. Jesus, however, did not waver. Faced with opposition, He continued to be an example of living Truth, and to purify society. Many disciples followed Jesus but throughout history, it has been the experience of Rama, Krishna, Jesus and Muhammad that disciples however close are seldom fully dedicated. Most are only part-time devotees. Jesus had 12 disciples, most of whom had faith in Him and lived His teachings. But, Judas yielded to greed. He betrayed His Master for a mere 30 coins. He could not find joy in life after this treachery. His mind gave him no peace. He had to seek refuge in suicide.


Judas Betrays Jesus

Betrayal by people who pretend to adore is happening since ages. Corrupt, greedy and selfish people spread falsehoods about their own Masters. We have heard of a Judas, 2000 years ago. But in the Kali Age, people are obsessed with money and Judases have multiplied. They seek to amass paltry riches whereas good character, good conduct and knowledge of God are the three real treasures to be gathered. Land and buildings, silver and gold, dollars and other currencies are temporary and trivial. They are possessions only until life lasts. But those three treasures will stay on, sustain and strengthen you until you attain union with the Infinite.

- “The Way of Jesus”, Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 14, December 25, 1979, Prasanthi Nilayam

Changes in the nature of the reactions and the lines of approach are brought about by the whims of the moment, the turns and twists of desire and the pressure exercised by the environment, the region and the times. Last night you witnessed a play about Jesus enacted by the students. The disciple who was most loved, Judas by name, decided to work against the Master, yielding to the low temptation of a few pieces of silver. Greed for money is a demon that gets hold of the weak. When one is overcome by it, one loses all trace of discrimination and accepts with ease, wrongful ways of satisfying it.

The success of the task for which I have come will very soon reverberate throughout the world. The truth that all faiths are facets of the One and that all roads lead to the same Goal, is provoking to some persons. You witnessed in the play on Jesus how His emphasis on the basic truths of good and godly life was misinterpreted by even the leaders of religion, who sought to hide their own failings by slander and falsehood. They even plotted to inflict torture on Jesus. All the acts of Jesus were pure and holy, and filled with selfless love. One can have adoration for one’s religion, but it should not be defiled by hatred towards other religions. Be engaged, rather, in tasting the sanctifying, sustaining stream of Divine love. That will confer lasting Ananda.

- “The Task will Triumph”, Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 14, November 23, 1979, Prasanthi Nilayam

Jesus on the Cross

When Jesus was being crucified, He cried out to God, “O God, Why do You punish me like this?” Immediately He realized the Truth and said, “O God, let Your will prevail. It is You who has created me, sustained me, and protected me. I will not act against Your Will. It was a mistake on my part to blame You”.

When He recognized His mistake, an ethereal voice said, “All are one my dear son, be alike to everyone.” Once you recognize your mistake, Divinity manifests. Man today does not recognize his mistakes; instead he looks for mistakes in others. Do not be bothered about others fault; search for your own faults and rectify them. Only then will your life be sanctified.

- “Develop Steadfast Faith in God”, Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 31, October 1, 1998, Prasanthi Nilayam


Jesus Christ on the Cross - The Day now celebrated as Good Friday

Only that person who has realized, “I am not the body, I am not the mind; I am God verily”, is a real Jnani. When you say, “This is my body”, who are you? To whom are you referring? The expression ‘my body’ connotes that you are separate from the body. When you say, “This is my mind”, the mind is separate from you. Similarly, when you say, “This is my Buddhi (intellect)”, it means the Buddhi is separate from you. In all these expressions, what is that ‘My’? That ‘My’ is ‘I’. This ‘I’ is what was referred to by Jesus Christ as the ego that has to be cut. That is the real significance of the cross. You cut the ego.

- “Install God in the Altar of Your Sacred Heart”, Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 42, December 25, 2009, Prasanthi Nilayam

Jesus was crucified on the cross. Mother Mary could not bear that scene and wept inconsolably. Jesus then remarked, “Why do you cry? This is natural. Whatever has to happen will happen, hence you should not shed tears”… God can do anything at His Divine will. Everything is God’s gift only. One has to realise this fact and develop faith accordingly. If you are enjoying good times, it is God’s gift. On the other hand, if you are passing through difficult times, it is also God’s gift. You should develop such steady faith. If you are suffering from malarial fever, you will be given bitter pills. That is also for your good.

- “Contemplate On God, the Real Hero for Victory”, Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 41, December 25, 2008, Prasanthi Nilayam

The followers of Jesus have got broken into schisms on various counts; but, the life of Christ is a lesson of Unity. When Christ was on the cross, ill-feelings towards the men who tortured Him troubled Him. Suddenly He heard a voice alerting him. “All Life is One, my dear Son Be alike to every one!” This was followed by another admonition, “Death is the Dress of Life”. As one casts of the worn clothes and dons another set, so, the soul dons and doffs bodies. Therefore, Jesus was warned against hate and ill-feelings, as well as the lamentation to which man is heir.

- “He whom Christ Announced”, Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 11, December 24, 1972, Bangalore

Jesus was crucified on a Friday and He rose from the tomb on a Sunday. That is why Sunday is taken as the day of worship and service in churches. Catholics gave importance to Virgin Mary, the mother of Christ, while Protestants gave importance to the birth of Christ. Catholics celebrate Christmas by worshipping Mary on the evening of 24th and Protestants celebrate the birth of Christ on the 25th.

- “Unity Based On Divinity”, Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 25, December 25, 1992, Prasanthi Nilayam

Adapted from ;

https://sathyasaiwithstudents.blogspot.com/2017/04/sri-sathya-sai-on-jesus-christ-part-5.html?m=1#.WPCX3oh942w