When my husband and I wanted our young sons to know what Easter was really about, we brainstormed about what symbols we could put in some plastic Easter eggs. I had read a small article in Evangelizing Today’s Child magazine about how a teacher used plastic Easter eggs to quiz her students about Jesus’ last week and crucifixion. She placed representative symbols inside the eggs. She then asked each student to open an egg, take out the symbol, and tell what it stood for. Bob and I thought, What a good idea for our family!
The article, though, didn’t list the symbols so Bob and I talked about different items we could use and scoured the house for them. Here’s what we discovered and used:
A small donkey from the children’s play farm animals. Jesus made his Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem on a donkey (Matt. 21:1-9, Mark 11:1-10, Luke 19:28-38, and John 12:15-15).
Plastic leaves resembling palm leaves. The cheering crowd spread palm leaves before Jesus when he entered Jerusalem (Matthew 21:9-9, Mark 11:1-10, and John 12:12-13).
Tiny bottle of perfume. Jesus was anointed for burial by a woman who lovingly poured out expensive perfume on him (Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 4:3-9, and John 12:1-8).
A dime. Judas received thirty pieces of silver for delivering Jesus over to his enemies. (Matthew 26:14-16, Luke 22:3-6).
A small piece of bread. Bread was used as a symbol of Jesus’ body when he held The Last Supper. (Matthew 26:26-30, Mark 14:22-26, and Luke 22:19).
Some plastic grapes. Wine, made from grapes, was the symbol for Jesus’ blood that he introduced at The Last Supper. (Matthew 26:26-30, Mark 14:22-26, Luke 22:17-20)
Small rooster from children’s farm animals. Jesus predicted Peter would deny him three times before the rooster crowed. (Matthew 26:31-34, 74-75; Mark 14:27-31,66-72; Luke 22:31-34, 54-62; and John 13:36-38, 18:15-18,25-27)
Plastic toothpick shaped like a sword. Peter used a sword to cut off the ear of one of those who came to arrest Jesus (Matt. 26:47-56, Mark 14:43-50, Luke 22:47-53, and John 18:3-12) and a soldier plunged a sword into Jesus’ side (John 19:31-37).
A chain. Jesus was led in chains to appear before the Pilate, the Roman governor (Matt. 27:1-2, Mark 15:1)
Thorns from a rose bush. Pilate’s solders made a crown of thorns and placed it on his head. (Matthew 27:29, Mark 15:17, and John 19:2,5)
A pair of dice. The soldiers gambled for Jesus’ clothes at the foot of the cross. (Matthew 27:35, Mark 15:24, Luke 23:34b, and John 19:23-24)
Small metal cross. Jesus was crucified on a cross. (Matthew 27:31-35, Mark 15:20-24, Luke 23:32-33, John 19:16, and Philippians 2:8)
Small sponge. When Jesus was thirsty while on the cross, someone lifted a sponge, soaked with cheap wine, up to him. (Matthew 27:48, Mark 15:36, and John 19:28-30)
Small piece of linen cloth. Joseph of Arimathea wrapped Jesus’ body in linen. (Matthew 27:59-60, Mark 15:46, Luke 23:53, John 19:40, 20:4-7).
Rock. A stone was placed in front of the tomb (Matthew 27:60, Mark 15:46, 16:3-4) and was rolled away by an angel of the Lord (Matthew 28:2).
A lamb from children’s farm animals. Jesus celebrated the Feast of Unleavened bread with his disciples, the day the lambs for the Passover were killed (Mark 14:12, Luke 22:7-8,14-16). Jesus became the sacrificial lamb for our sins.
Whole cloves. Faithful women took spices to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body (Mark 16:1). Nicodemus and Joseph prepared his body for burial with spices (John 19:39-41).
Leather shoestring with sharp pieces of metal tied in the ends. Jesus was scourged with a whip with metal sharpened bits of metal in the ends. (John 19:1, Mark 15:19)
Purple piece of cloth. In mockery, Roman soldiers put a purple robe on Jesus (John 19:2-5 and Mark 15:17)
Nail. When Jesus was crucified, nails were driven into his hands. (John 20:24-25)
An empty egg. It symbolizes the empty tomb (Mark 16:5-7, and Luke 24:2-3).
We put the symbol-filled eggs in a basket and passed it around at lunch and dinner. Everyday during Holy Week, we opened eggs and talked about the symbols inside. Perhaps it was putting our minds to work, perhaps it was reading Bible verses, or maybe it was touching the thorns and the nails, but something happened to us. When our family got up on Easter Sunday, we spontaneously and enthusiastically greeted each other with, “He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!”