Bringing Resurrection to Life

Categories: Easter (Passion Week)

Sunday School teacher, Alex Cavalli, shares how he helps students understand the significance of Easter.

As a Sunday School teacher, I am always trying to find ways to help my students gain a deeper understanding of the Bible. Most of the time, this requires encouraging my students to think differently and to not immediately accept their mental images of a particular Bible story.

One Sunday recently, I planned our discussion to revolve around Jesus' resurrection. Instead of launching into this story, without any warning I asked my students this question, "Suppose we were talking together outside after church. Imagine that someone walks up to us, points a gun at my chest, and shoots from just a few feet away. You see this happen, you see me fall to the ground, you see me die right there on the pavement. You watch the paramedics declare me dead and you can plainly see the damage to my body from the bullets." At that point, my students were wondering if they had, perhaps, come to the wrong class.

Then I asked them, "Suppose after you witnessed all of this, the very next week you find me sitting in my usual chair, waiting for you. You can see me, talk with me, and touch me as though nothing at all had happened. What would you do? What would you be thinking? Would you believe it was actually me, or some trick? Would you believe that I had a double? Would you think that I had a clone? Would you not be at least a little disturbed by this?"

Of course, many of their immediate answers were that they would think nothing of it. They'd just know that I hadn't died. But I pushed them a little harder. It is so easy to take an example like this as though we're watching a movie. Even if the movie is about real events, the events are not real to us because they still live in the world of imagination. I wanted my students to think about this story as if it had REALLY happened to us. What would they think? A few decided that they might be afraid at first. Some agreed that they might believe it was just a prank using a look-alike. I asked, "Suppose I could answer questions that only you and I knew the answer to?" After some discussion, my students had begun to treat this event from the perspective of how it would feel, what they would do, if it REALLY happened.

At that point, when we came to that realization, they all agreed that if they saw this whole thing happen, it would change their lives entirely. That they could not witness someone being killed and then coming back to life (really coming back) without it radically changing the way they thought, about everything.

Of course, by this time they had drawn the analogy to Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection. His disciples had seen him die. They'd seen him taken away and buried. They saw him stand before them in the same body, alive again. And then their lives were changed. Forever. They could no longer continue in the old ways of thinking and, as a result, they fanned out through the world and changed everything. They experienced difficulties, depravations, sometimes torture, sometimes imprisonment, most of them an early death. But they couldn't turn back because of what they had actually seen -- because there was something more REAL to them than life in this world.

At this point Jesus' resurrection had become a little more REAL to my students. They were thinking. At that point, there was nothing left for me to say.