There is a beautiful story that you can read to your children Easter morning, after you have opened the golden egg and rolled the stone away on your Easter garden. It is a story that has to do with the linen cloth placed over Jesus face during his burial. Here it is.
The Folded Napkin (author anonymous)
The Gospel of John (20:7) tells us that the napkin, which was placed over the face of Jesus, was not just thrown aside like the grave clothes.
The Bible takes an entire verse to tell us that the napkin was neatly folded, and was placed at the head of that stony coffin.
Early Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance.
She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved.. She said, ‘They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and I don’t know where they have put him!’
Peter and the other disciple ran to the tomb to see. The other disciple out ran Peter and got there first. He stopped and looked in and saw the linen cloth lying there, but he didn’t go in.
Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying to the side.
Was that important? Absolutely!
Is it really significant? Yes!
In order to understand the significance of the folded napkin, you have to understand a little bit about Hebrew tradition of that day. The folded napkin had to do with the Master and Servant, and every Jewish boy knew this tradition.
When the servant set the dinner table for the master, he made sure that it was exactly the way the master wanted it. The table was furnished perfectly, and then the servant would wait, just out of sight, until the master had finished eating, and the servant would not dare touch that table, until the master was finished.
Now if the master were done eating, he would rise from the table, wipe his fingers, his mouth, and clean his beard, and would wad up that napkin and toss it onto the table. The servant would then know to clear the table. For in those days, the wadded napkin meant, “I’m finished.”
But if the master got up from the table, and folded his napkin, and laid it beside his plate, the servant would not dare touch the table, because……….
The folded napkin meant,
“I’m coming back”
There is a fun craft that you can do with your children to represent the Easter story and the stone being rolled away to reveal Jesus’ resurrection. It is a great tradition to start with younger children and can be made as elaborate as you want.
You can take a shoebox or a disposable cake pan. Fill it with soil or felt. Cut a toilet paper tube in half to represent the cave. You can cover the tube with flowers or more felt. Have your children wrap an action figure in cloth, to represent Jesus, and place him in the tomb. Cover the opening of the “tomb” with a rock. On Easter morning you can get up and “roll the stone away” to reveal an empty tomb.
This would be a very fun family activity to do beginning with Good Friday. Then early Easter morning get up and go to the tomb for the big reveal. Fun little activities like this help to cement these truths in children. Have fun and enjoy their creativity.
One aspect we can focus on with the linen cloth is an act of mercy. Joseph of Arimathea, stepped in after Jesus’ death. He saw a need and gave hugely of himself for that need. He risked getting in trouble with the soldiers and gave the tomb that was being saved for his family, to someone in need.
This is something that is easy for us to emulate: giving back during this holiday season and using the break from school to do so. This could be the day to do such an activity.
We can learn from Joseph’s example and give our time and resources. Teaching children to give to others is an invaluable lesson. We have given several ideas in past blogs on what you can do as a family to help those around you in need. It doesn’t have to be complicated; it just has to be done!
The spear in the Easter story is an amazing representation of the fulfillment of prophecy. The Old Testament states that not a bone would be broken in Jesus body. This is one example of God keeping his word. There are so many amazing promises in the Bible. We can use the fulfillment of prophecy to help children learn to focus on God’s promises.
A fun activity to do is make a promise coupon. Children can think of something they can do for another family member. A promise they alone can fulfill. I could be something that they promise not to do, a teaching tool, such as I promise not to argue about going to bed. It could also be something nice that they will do for another family member, like helping mom clear the dinner dishes. Writing promises down helps children remember. This can be a fun way to help children learn to do what they have promised, like their Heavenly Father does.
It’s hard to imagine all that Jesus sacrificed to pay for our sins. A good practice for anyone is to learn to take time to process that sin in their life. This season as we remember what he has done for us, it should become all the more important.
One activity we did in youth group that made the process of repentance very real was actually nailing your sins to the cross. This can be something that as a family you can do every Easter season or Good Friday. Spend some time thinking of some sins, (even young children can do this) and writing them down on a sheet of paper. If your children are young you can write it for them. Make a cross out of two by fours, or just use one that you have for decoration. You can either place your papers at the foot of the cross or actually nail them to the cross. Leave these out until Easter Sunday as a reminder and then, as a family, either remove them or tear them up. This will help children visualize that what Jesus did on the cross removed our sins.