Story - A free pardon.
Two schoolboys were great friends, doing many things together and generally enjoying each other's company. When they left school, however, their lives diverged. The first boy went to University, studied hard and qualified as a lawyer. In fact, eventually he became a Judge. Things didn't go so well for the second boy. He had little interest in study or work, got into 'bad' company and ended up pursuing a life of petty crime.
One day this second man was caught trying to steal some goods from a store. He was charged and sent to trial for his crime. Not really having much choice, he pleaded guilty. However, the Judge at his trial happened to be his old school friend! What would the Judge do? Would he be lenient towards his old friend and let him off, or would he demand that he pay the penalty for his crime?
Summing up, the Judge declared "You are guilty of this crime, and the law demands a fine be paid of $1,000." Then, to everyone's amazement, the Judge reached inside his pocket, pulled out his wallet, counted out $1,000 and paid the fine himself. Nobody could complain because the full requirements of the law had been met, but the guilty man went free because the Judge himself paid the penalty.
In the same way we are all guilty of breaking God's laws. But God (our Judge) paid the penalty for our sins Himself by becoming a man and dying on the cross. So now, by accepting what He has done for us, we can receive His free pardon and be declared right in His sight. And that is the Good News we remember each Easter time.
Illusions. Here are two illusions to help demonstrate what happened at the very first Easter.
a. The meaning of the cross. This illusion does require the lighting of a candle, so please get an adult to supervise you as you do this.
For this close-up illustration you will need a little coloured water (coloured lemonade or squash will do), a saucer, a short candle, a glass, a small coin and matches.
Presentation. This illustration explains what happened at the cross of Jesus.
State - that the coin represents you or me - place it in the saucer, towards the edge.
- that the coloured water represents our sins (t he wrong things we do) - pour it into the saucer until the coin is submerged.
- that the candle represents Jesus - stand it at the centre of the saucer, and light it.
- that the flame represents the life of Christ.
Take the glass and place it over the lighted candle. Within a few seconds, the flame will consume all the oxygen in the glass and be extinguished. However, it will have created a vacuum, which in turn, will draw the water up inside the glass (thus surrounding the candle) and leave the coin dry.
Summary. 1. The coloured water is drawn to the candle - Our sins were put on Jesus.
2. The flame goes our - Jesus gave up his life for us.
3. The coin becomes dry - Because our sins are now on Jesus, we go free.
b. The resurrection of Christ.
Preparation. This illusion will require a little practice, but it is well worth the effort. You will need a coin (Practice with a small one at first, then you may wish to try a larger one for a better effect), a clear glass, and a piece of thin clear balloon rubber, large enough to cover the top of the glass. (I have found that rubber, cut from a clear balloon, (e.g. Qualatex 'Diamond clear') is a good source of this - check out your local store).
Stretch the rubber in all directions, hold the coin on your finger and press it on the underside of the rubber. When you cease stretching, you will find - with practice - that the rubber will wrap itself a little way under the coin as well as covering the top. The coin will thus appear to be on top of the rubber sheet (actually it is underneath) because the rubber has been stretched so much that it will be almost invisible. Finally, stretch out the rubber and coin on the top of your glass, and secure with an elastic band around the rubber overhanging the top of the glass.
Illustration. Produce your glass, with rubber and coin in place. Ask for a volunteer. State that he/she is now going to push the coin right through the rubber sheet without making a hole, or even a tear, in it. Get your volunteer to push the coin firmly downwards with their finger. The coin will fall into the glass, leaving the rubber sheet intact.
This reminds us of the resurrection, when Jesus came right out of the tomb, while the stone was still in place. It also reminds us that in his resurrection body, Jesus was also able to pass through locked doors without leaving a hole in them! (see John 20.19).
Laugh break - Can you trust your senses?
Sometimes our natural senses - sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste - let us down. However, there is one thing that will never let us down, one thing that is totally reliable - God's Word, the Bible.
Try out these hearing and eyesight tests on your friends or parents to show them that their senses are unreliable.
1. How many of each type of animal did Moses take onto the Ark?
(None. It was Noah who had the Ark).
2. You are the driver of a train. There are 30 passengers on board. At the first station, 10 passengers get off. At the second station, 5 passengers get on. What is the name of the train driver?
(You will probably have to repeat the question, using the right emphasis "You are the driver of a train - - - - " (Some people don't seem to know their own name!)..
3. It is noon. You look at your watch, the little hand is pointing to 3, and the big hand is pointing to 6. What time is it?
(Noon. If your little hand is pointing to 3, and your big hand to 6, your watch must have stopped!).
4. Let's all spell out the word S. T. O. P. together. Then I will ask you a simple question that you have to answer immediately. S. T. O. P. spells STOP. What do you do when you come to a green light?
5. Let's all spell out the word S. I. L. K. together. Then I will ask you a simple question that you have to answer immediately. S. I. L. K. spells SILK. What do cow's drink?
6. What do you put in a toaster?
7.If red houses are made of red bricks, blue houses are made of blue bricks, yellow houses are made of yellow bricks, orange houses are made of orange bricks, what are green houses made of?
8. You are in a race. Just before the end you overtake the person who is second. Where do you finish?
9. You are shown a bath full of water. You are then given a teaspoon, a cup and a bucket, and told to empty the bath. How would you do it?
(Pull the plug out).
10. Write out the following two sets of words on triangular pieces of paper or cardboard as shown. Show each sentence to your class, and ask them to study it carefully. After about 15 seconds, put the paper away and ask them what it said. Most will get it wrong, missing out a "The" and an "A" respectively.
Your Questions Answered - Did Jesus really rise from the dead?
Christianity stands or falls on the resurrection of Jesus. As Paul expressed it "If Christ was not raised from the dead, our faith is useless - - - - and we are to be pitied more than all men." ( 1 Corinthians 15. 14,19 ). Conversely, if Christ did rise from the dead, what He said and did is of vital importance to everyone who has ever been born onto this planet. So why do we believe that Jesus really did rise? There are three main reasons.
1. The disappearance of His body.
It is generally acknowledged that after Jesus was crucified and buried, His body disappeared. Three theories have been proposed by doubters to try and explain this.
A. Jesus didn't really die on the cross.
It is suggested that Jesus only fainted and later recovered in the tomb. However, this theory fails to explain how the experienced Roman soldiers at the cross became convinced that Jesus was dead, or how, after such a horrendous beating, Jesus became strong enough to roll away the stone sealing His tomb, and walk out unnoticed by the guards.
B. Jesus' enemies stole His body.
If this were true then, when the disciples later claimed that Jesus had risen from the dead, they would have easily been able to stop such talk by producing the dead body. This they were unable to do.
C. Jesus' disciples stole His body.
This theory fails to explain why the disciples would later risk their lives (by proclaiming that Jesus had risen from the dead) for something they knew to be a lie.
Such theories do not fit the facts or satisfy human reason. The only feasible explanation is that He rose!
2. The reappearances of Jesus.
The Bible records that after His death, Jesus appeared to more than 500 people on at least eleven occasions in a number of different places over a period of six weeks. These appearances were not hallucinations - for these arise from wishful thinking. In fact the disciples were at first sceptical. After the crucifixion of their leader, they were completely disillusioned and defeated. The last thing they expected to see was Jesus alive again.
3. The change in the Disciples.
This, and the consequent emergence of the church, is regarded as the most convincing evidence of the resurrection of Jesus. Shortly after the crucifixion, something happened to the disciples to change their disillusionment, defeat and fear to courage and conviction. From hiding behind locked doors for fear of the Jews, these early disciples suddenly began to risk their lives by going out to preach the Gospel to a hostile world. Only the resurrection of Jesus could explain this turn around.
People will always argue over the resurrection of Jesus, but the Bible says "Without faith it is impossible to please God." (Hebrews 11.6). The only way anyone can discover for themselves whether Jesus really did rise and is alive today is to personally turn from their sins and put their trust in Him. Then they will "know" that Jesus is still very much alive!