Exploring the Tomb

Scripture: Matthew 27:57-66, Mark 15:42-47, Luke 23:50-56, John 19:38-42

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will learn two of the Pharisees believed in Jesus and helped bury him. (Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea)
  • Students will learn Jesus was definitely dead after the crucifixion.
  • Students will learn Roman soldiers guarded the tomb so no one could steal the body of Jesus.
  • Students will participate in a show and tell about the burial of Jesus that will help them understand the culture at the time of Jesus’ death.

Guiding Question: How can learning about culture build on understanding of Jesus’ burial?

Materials: Plain linen, spices (Myrrh), photos of a rock tomb, photos of Roman guards

Procedure: Share the story of the burial of Jesus from the scriptures above. Explain to the students that the way that people were buried during Jesus’ time was very different from our culture today. Tell students that where Jesus was buried was “impossible” to leave yet when Jesus rose and the stone was rolled away, it further proved Jesus as the Son of God and fulfilled prophecies.

Tell the students they are going to participate in a show and tell type of activity where they get to look at different things from the time of Jesus’ death so they can understand the culture better. Pass around linen so the students can feel what the burial cloth was like that was used for Jesus. Then pass around spices and let students smell. Tell the students that some were the same brought at the birth of Jesus. Large amounts of spices were usually associated with the death of royalty or someone else of great wealth and power. Then show the students photos of rock tombs. Highlight how heavey the stone was that was rolled to close it and how they sealed tombs etc.

Talk about the Roman guards and show photos of their uniforms and talk about some of their rules (like being killed if they failed an important duty like this). Then share the widely held belief at the time that the first day or two after death you were only considered “mostly dead” (probably because of poor medical equipment some people in comas may have been mistaken for dead and if they woke in that period could live, they had no ways to keep people fed, hydrated, breathing, etc. like we do now when they are in a coma) Explain that because Jesus did not rise until the third day there was no doubt he was dead.

Additional Questions: How did Jesus’ resurrection serve as a miracle?
Supplemental Activity: Have one student wrapped in toilet paper (pretend burial linens) and another student chosen to be the guard. Have something heavy between the person wrapped up and the guard (such as a table or several chairs). Have the students wrapped up try to unwrap and move the items as quietly as they can as to not disturb the guard. Discuss with the class how Jesus leaving without the guards noticing further proved the miracle of his resurrection.

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