Christian festival of Easter lesson plan

Are you struggling with an Easter lesson plan? Look no further! Here is a free, complete lesson plan with a Football sketch and an Easter worksheet.

This Easter story is part 2, which covers Jesus’ trial, crucifixion and rising from
the grave does stand alone if necessary.

But this lesson plan on Easter for KS2 is complimented with the Christian festival of Holy Week lesson plan (Palm Sunday to Thursday night) with two worksheets.

This teacher’s copy of the Christian Festival of Easter lesson plan is printer-friendly.

A statue of Jesus on the cross. Christian festival of Easter lesson plan.
Christian festival of Easter lesson plan. Image by Hands off my tags! Michael Gaida from Pixabay

1. Resources for the Easter lesson plan:

There is a separate sheet to print out for the Football Sketch Easter worksheet, (opens in a new tab.)
You will need:

  • 2 ‘small children’
  • A ‘neighbour’
  • A ‘parent’
  • Some sort of money (Possibly Monopoly money).

2. Starter for the Easter lesson plan:

Q. Have you ever been blamed for something that you didn’t do?

Q. Did you then have to face the consequences?

3. Main teaching for the Easter lesson plan:

a) Jesus’ unlawful trial

We are going to look at the events behind Good Friday and Easter.
Jesus had just had an unfair trial by the religious leaders.
They were filled with hatred and they punched and spat at him through the night, while he was still bound with ropes.

Jesus was entirely innocent, he was blameless and he went around doing good things, but the religious leaders were jealous of his popularity, so they wanted him to be executed by the Roman Authorities.

b) Jesus at the Roman governor’s court

Early on Friday morning, they took Jesus to the Roman governor who was called Pilate.
After hearing the charges against Jesus he quickly tried to turn them away, because there wasn’t enough evidence and the crime wasn’t worthy of death.
But they insisted that he look at the case.

So Pilate went to the courtroom and summoned the soldiers to bring Jesus to him.
Pilate then looked at the battered and bruised face of Jesus and said;
“Are you the king of the Jews?”
Perhaps Pilate wanted to know whether Jesus was trying to be a king to oppose Caesar, the leader-king of the Romans, or whether Jesus was saying that He was Christ the King, the One spoken about in the Scriptures (Bible / Torah).

Jesus stood firm and said;
“Is that your own idea, or did others talk to you about me?”
Pilate snorted;
“Am I a Jew? It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”
Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.” (John 18:33-35)

Q. What did Jesus mean by saying that His Kingdom was not of this world?

Christians believe that Jesus is the King of an invisible Kingdom known as heaven.

Q. What did Jesus mean by saying that if His Kingdom was of this world, His servants would fight to prevent His arrest?

Jesus knew that he was going to die, so if his Kingdom was only in this world, then it was all about to end unless his servants came by force and rescued him.

But his Kingdom is of another world, so Jesus being executed wouldn’t end it.
Jesus said that this execution was all part of God’s plan!

Pilate continued: “You are a king, then!”
Jesus answered,
“You are right in saying I am a king. I was born for that purpose. And I came to bring truth to the world. All who love the truth are my followers.” (John 18:37 NIV and The Living Bible)
Pilate exclaimed; “What is truth?”

That is a good question!

Q. What do you think is the ‘truth’ that Jesus is talking about?

Jesus calls his teaching the Truth and he calls the rest of the Scriptures (the Bible) the Truth.
(Teachers note: John 17:17 where Jesus says ‘Your Word is Truth’ the term ‘Word’ means the Scriptures which means the Bible).
Christians are the followers of Jesus Christ and they should love this Truth.

Jesus did not answer him, and Pilate quickly turned and walked out of the courtroom to the religious leaders and said that Jesus was not guilty of any crime.
Pilate knew that they had handed Jesus over because of their envy.
But the crowd were shouting that Jesus had stirred up trouble with his teaching.

c) Jesus at King Herod’s court

Pilate didn’t know what to do, so he sent him to Herod who had authority over the area where Jesus lived.
Herod asked Jesus many questions but he didn’t answer any of them and the religious leaders were all shouting abuse at Jesus.
Then Herod dressed Jesus in a robe like a king and they ridiculed and mocked Him.
They pretended to bow down to Him and finally, Jesus got sent back.

d) Jesus sent back to Pilate

Pilate then stood in front of the crowd and said:
“I find no basis for a charge against him. But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?” (John 18:38-39)
The crowd went wild and were shouting “No, away with this man!”
“No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
Barabbas was a murderer and had taken part in a rebellion against the Romans.

The crowd were becoming wilder, so Pilate handed Jesus to the soldiers to be flogged.
The lashes the soldiers inflicted were just short of killing a man.
Jesus was now in a weak state and in a lot of pain.
The soldiers then mocked Jesus by twisting together a crown of thorns which they then pushed onto his head.
They put a purple robe on him and pretended to worship him saying; “O king of the Jews!”

Pilate then went to the crowd and said:
“Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him. Here is the man!” (John 19:4-5)

As soon as they saw Jesus, the crowd went wild again, shouting: “Crucify! Crucify!”
Pilate again said that Jesus was not guilty, and the crowd answered that He must die because He had said that He was the Son of God.

When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, and he went back to Jesus and said:
“Where do you come from?”
But Jesus didn’t answer him, so Pilate said:
“Do you refuse to speak to me? Don’t you realize I have the power either to free you or to crucify you?”
Jesus looked straight at Pilate and said:
“You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” (John 19:9-11)

Q. What do you think Jesus meant by saying that?

Pilate thought he had more power and authority over Jesus, so he thought he could do anything he wanted.
But Jesus was telling Pilate that he couldn’t because this situation was in God’s hands.
Even though this was God’s plan, the religious leaders would still be held responsible for their jealousy and their hatred of Jesus.
Therefore they were ‘guilty of the greater sin’ because they found false witnesses, they held an unfair trial, and now they were manipulating Pilate to give the death sentence to Jesus.

Q. How could the fact that Jesus was going to die on a Roman cross be a part of God’s plan?

Q. Did that mean that God didn’t like Jesus?

Christians believe that God the Father loves Jesus because he is his Son.
A loving parent would rather die, or be hurt themselves, than for their child to suffer any harm.
This is the same for God.
It cost God the Father a lot to put Jesus, His Son, into this situation.

And Father, Son and Holy Spirit make one God, so it cannot be compared to human individuals.
So we need to know why God the Father did that:

e) The football sketch

(Teachers note: You will need to print out the Easter worksheet – Football Sketch)

Act out the Football Sketch.

(Teachers note: Perhaps split the class into small groups to discuss the 3 questions on the Football Sketch sheet and then get each group to report back their conclusions to the class)

The boy in the sketch had been naughty, and there was no way that he could pay for the window to be repaired, so the parent stepped in and paid the full amount.

In God’s eyes, we all do naughty things from time to time, we do selfish things, we disobey God and so we are guilty before him.
But Christians believe there is a way out from this guilt because God has paid the price, not in hard-earned money, but in something much more precious than that – the cost of his Son’s life.
God wanted to save people from their guilt, and this is for anybody who believes in Jesus Christ and what He did.

f) Pilate tries to release Jesus

From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the crowd kept shouting,
“If you release Jesus, you are a traitor to the Romans. He claims to be a king and you’re no friend of the Roman king – Caesar, if you allow him to live!”
Pilate brought Jesus out again to the people and said: “Here is your king!”
The crowd was turning into a riot and they shouted,
“Take him away! Crucify him!” “Take him away! Crucify him!”
Pilate answered the crowd; “Shall I crucify your king?”
But the crowd shouted; “He is not our king! Only Caesar is our king!”

g) Jesus’ crucifixion

Finally, Pilate saw that he had little choice, without causing major rioting, to hand Jesus over to the soldiers to be crucified.
They made Jesus carry his cross, so he staggered to the site of execution.
There, at about 9 in the morning, they nailed him to the cross and they did the same with two criminals, one on each side of him.
Pilate had commanded that the soldiers put a sign on the cross stating His crime.

Q. What was the crime that Pilate told them to write?

‘Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews’.

Q. Do you think that was the right thing to put as his crime?

Jesus wasn’t actually guilty of a crime, so it was good to put that.
The religious leaders protested to Pilate saying;
“No, that is not the charge! Write that this man claims to be the king of the Jews!”
But Pilate said that what he had written would remain.

Some friends of Jesus watched the crucifixion with pain and sorry in their hearts, but the religious leaders continued to mock him and they stayed to make sure that he died.

After Jesus had been on the cross for three hours, the day suddenly became dark.
It was the middle of the day, and this shouldn’t happen!
The darkness continued for three hours, then Jesus lifted His head and in a loud voice he shouted;
“It is completed! Father, into your hands I give my spirit!”
Then he died, and there was an earthquake.
The main curtain in the Temple was split in two and then daylight returned.

The Roman Centurion soldier was staggered by the events, and he was impressed with what he saw of Jesus, and he declared;
“Surely this man was right in what He did and said! Surely this man was the Son of God!”

h) Jesus’ burial

Joseph, a rich man who was different from the other religious leaders, had been eager to listen and obey Jesus’ teaching, went to ask Pilate for the body of Jesus.
Pilate was surprised that Jesus had died so quickly, so he got the soldiers to check that He had died.
Crucifixion could take days for someone to eventually die, so this was remarkable that Jesus was able to have command over the time of his death.
The soldiers confirmed that Jesus was dead by pushing a spear into His side.

Joseph wanted to give Jesus a decent burial and he knew of a new tomb just cut out of the rock face.
So two of them treated Jesus’ body with burial spices, wrapped the body in strips of cloth and laid it in the tomb.
The religious leaders were concerned that Jesus had said that He was going to rise back from the dead.

Q. Bearing this in mind, what would you have done if you had been the religious leaders?

They had decided to put a group of soldiers at the tomb constantly, day and night.
This would prevent anyone from stealing the body and saying that Jesus had risen back to life.
It was now the evening of that eventful Friday.
All this had happened in one day.

i) Jesus raised from the dead

Then a small group of women, who were disciples of Jesus, went to the tomb very early on Sunday morning to finish the task of putting burial spices on Jesus’ body.
But as they approached the tomb they saw that the heavy stone door had been rolled aside.

Suddenly there was a very bright light and a voice said to them,
“Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is no longer here because He has risen from the dead, just as he said He would.
Go quickly and tell the other disciples.” (Matthew 28:5-7)

They discovered that there had been a violent earthquake in which the angel of the Lord had come down from heaven and had rolled open the heavy stone door and then sat upon it.
The soldiers had been terrified and had pretended to be dead.

Drawing of Jesus rising from the tomb. Christian festival of Easter lesson plan.
Christian festival of Easter lesson plan. Image by Jeff Jacobs from Pixabay

j) Jesus appears to many people

So the women ran off to tell the other disciples, but suddenly Jesus met them and said “Greetings!”
They fell at His feet and worshipped him, and then he said,
“Don’t be afraid of me, go and tell the disciples that I will meet them in Galilee.”

So again the women ran off and told this to the other disciples.
But none of them was able to believe what the women were saying, because it just seemed too far-fetched!

Simon Peter jumped up and ran to the tomb.
He saw that the stone had been rolled away, but there was no one around.
So he looked inside the tomb and he saw the strips of burial cloth lying in a heap together.
He left slowly, wondering what had happened.

Later that day, the disciples were all together in a large room, when suddenly Jesus appeared.
Everyone was startled and frightened because they thought that he was a ghost, but he said to them:

“Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” Luke 24:39
So He showed them his nail wounds from the cross and the spear hole in his side!
The disciples were overjoyed that Jesus had risen back from the dead.
Then Jesus said:

Yes, it was written long ago that the Christ must suffer and die and rise again from the dead on the third day; and that this message of salvation should be taken from Jerusalem to all the nations: There is forgiveness of sins for all who turn to me.”

Luke 24:47 (The Living Bible)

For the next forty days, he appeared to more than 500 of his followers. (1 Corinthians 15:6)
Then on the last occasion, he took them outside and he was taken up into heaven.
The disciples were filled with joy and they worshipped him.

4. Plenary for the Easter lesson plan:

What we have just heard is what Easter is all about.
The Friday is known as ‘Good Friday’ and the Sunday when Jesus rose from the dead is known as ‘Easter Sunday’.

Q. Have your views changed on what Easter is all about?

Q. Do you think that Easter has become commercialised?

Q. Do you have any thoughts on the Easter story?

Either take a short time to discuss these questions, or leave it with them.

Design a poster to show the meaning of Easter for Christians.

(Teachers note: There are two worksheets to accompany this lesson plan:
Football Sketch Easter worksheet,
Easter worksheet
Also, see the Christian festival of Easter. RE resources).

5. Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Why is Good Friday referred to as good?

Jesus was mocked, scourged and crucified on a day that is now known as Good Friday – why was it called that? Possibly that:
1) The word ‘good’ originally meant a ‘holy’ day.
2) ‘God’s Friday’ became ‘Good Friday’.
3) Jesus died as our substitute to take God’s judgment upon all our wrongs and therefore we can be free from condemnation, which makes it ‘good’.

What are the 3 symbols of Easter?

1) Easter Eggs. Originally, the egg was a symbol of new life and fertility. Christianity took this symbol as representing the egg as Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, and the empty shell as Jesus’ empty tomb.
2) The Easter Bunny is again an ancient symbol of fertility and new life that commercialism has exploited.
3) Hot Cross Buns are also a pagan practice that was transformed by Brother Rocliffe in the 14th century and given to the poor on Good Friday. The white cross on the top represents the cross of Jesus and the fruity spices of his burial spices.

What is the deeper meaning of Easter?

Easter is all about the fulfilment of the Hebrew Passover celebration:
1) Jesus Christ took upon himself the sins of the world, by being the actual Passover lamb.
2) Passover remembers when the Hebrews were slaves in Egypt, and the blood of a sacrificed lamb was smeared around the door of their homes so that a destroying angel did not touch them. The Egyptians didn’t do that therefore their firstborn got killed and Pharaoh drove the Hebrews out of Egypt.
3) The lamb that had to be sacrificed was called the paschal lamb – it died so that many people could be spared.
4) The apostle Paul wrote about Jesus saying that: “Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.” (1 Corinthians 5:7)
5) Jesus held a ‘last supper’ for his followers on the very night that the paschal lambs were being killed during their Passover meal.
6) Jesus had been telling his followers that he would be crucified and later that night Jesus was betrayed by Judas.
7) The jealous religious leaders held an unlawful trial and took him to Pilate, the Roman governor.
8) Pilate saw no reason to crucify Jesus but a riot was forming, so he had to concede to their demands.
9) The Roman soldiers scourged him and then crucified him.
10) At noon darkness fell until three in the afternoon, the curtain of the temple was torn in two and Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” He then breathed his last. (Luke 23:44-46)
11) Jesus was laid to rest in a tomb cut into the rock with a huge stone door that was rolled across the entrance.
12) The religious leaders posted guards at the entrance because Jesus had said that he would be raised from the dead.
13) On the third day there was an earthquake, angels appeared, the stone was rolled away from the doorway and Jesus rose from the dead.
14) The soldiers were terrified and went back to the religious leaders to tell them what had happened.
15) Jesus kept appearing to his followers over the next forty days – to more than five hundred people.
16) “When Jesus had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.” Luke 24:50-53