Many people celebrate Easter with young children embracing the Easter bunny, Easter egg hunts, and an Easter basket full of jelly beans and chocolate bunnies. If this is the kind of post you are looking for, then this is not for you. The point of this post is the Easter story for teens. A more mature look at God’s love, the great sacrifice of Jesus, and the true meaning of Easter. This is a great study if you have a youth ministry as well.
There are many fun Easter traditions, but far too often they distract from Jesus’ death and resurrection. I want the truth of Easter to become alive to your teen like never before. I pray the story of Easter blesses you and your teen year after year as we celebrate the story of Jesus, new life, and victory over sin.
I do have a post geared more toward younger children for the Easter season that you may also like. It includes free coloring pages for little kids.
Easter Story for Teens
Our older kids are ready to hear about the plan our Heavenly Father had since Adam and Eve sinned. They are mature enough to understand that it is our sin that nailed Christ to the cross and we need to be responsible for that sin. This Easter lesson should convict our youth and encourage them away from plastic eggs and on to the most important things in life, salvation and eternal life.
Prophecies of Christ
Before we jump into the Bible story of Jesus’ death and resurrection, let’s talk about the prophecies of Christ. These Bible verses teach us that God had a plan from the very beginning. I love writing this outline of the Easter story for teens because we can go into more detail than we can with younger kids. This is the age where they begin to understand the effect of sin on mankind and in their own lives.
- Man is separated from God and needs a savior. Genesis 3:1-24, emphasize verse 15 which is our first promise of a deliverer. To fully understand what Jesus did for us, we must first confess that we are sinful and unacceptable from the start.
- The result of sin. Genesis 4:1-15 shows how quickly sin gets out of hand and causes us to think and act in harmful ways.
- Man continues to sin and God is forced to destroy the Earth with a flood. Genesis 7:1-9:15 The purpose of these verses is to simply show that God cannot abide by sin and yet loves mankind and wants to save him.
- God chooses a people. God needed to teach the world what sin was and He chose Abraham to begin a nation with which He could reveal Himself and set up the line for the coming savior. Genesis 12:1-3. The whole earth would be blessed by the coming Messiah who would be a descendent of Abraham.
- The First Passover and the importance of the lamb’s blood. The story of Moses and the children of Israel’s deliverance from slavery is a direct analogy of our deliverance from sin through the blood of Jesus. Exodus 3:1-10, Exodus 7:14-10:29, Exodus 12:1-32
- The Passover is observed in the wilderness. Numbers 9:1-5. Why was it important to observe the Passover even though they had already been delivered? To remember what God had done for them! This yearly feast is necessary because it points directly to Jesus and how he fulfilled the law. God was setting the stage and it is a big beautiful picture when broken up like this.
- What is sin? This is a pretty big question that isn’t answered in one sitting, but it is worth including here if you feel you want to touch on it with your kids. Sin is disobedience to God. How do we know when we are in disobedience? God’s word tells us. After God delivers the Children of Israel from Egypt, He teaches them what sin is and the acceptable way to live. They had been living in a foreign land full of false gods. They needed a guide book which is why God provided them “the law”. When Jesus came, he said he came to fulfill the law. He alone can help us live a righteous life. The New Testament is full of verses that teach us how God wants us to live and what sin we need to remove from our hearts. Study these verses: Exodus 20:1-17, Leviticus 19:11-18, Deuteronomy 22:1-5, Deuteronomy 24:14-22, Leviticus 18:1-20 (this passage covers a host of sexual sins, judge how appropriate it is for your age group), Galatians 5:19-21, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Romans 1:24-32.
- Prophecies of Christ. Again, we want to emphasize, that Jesus was a part of God’s plan right from the beginning. Isaiah 46:9-10, Isaiah 53:1-12, Isaiah 9:6, Micah 5:2, Zechariah 9:9, Psalm 22:7-8, and Psalm 22 16-18.
- The result of sin is death. God never wanted to see His greatest creation suffer and die, which is why He sent His son. Explain both deaths that we suffer: physical and spiritual. Read Romans 6:20-23, Ephesians 2:1-10, 1 John 1:8-10, Colossians 1:13-14.
The final days of Jesus leading up to his arrest include the events of Palm Sunday. Here we celebrate Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem as people waved palm branches shouting “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” During this week Jesus healed in the temple, became angry at how the Jews were defiling the temple by selling and trading, and tried to prepare his disciples for what was to come.
Thursday evening finds Jesus with his 12 disciples celebrating the Passover.
Remember we read about Moses and the angel of death? How a lamb was killed and its blood painted on the door posts. The angel of death saw that blood and passed over. It did not enter the home and everyone was safe from death.
Jesus is that Passover lamb. This meal that Jesus had with his disciples was the meal commanded by God at Mount Sinai so that every generation would remember the passing over of death.
Read Matthew 26:1-30, Mark 14:17-25, and Luke 22:1-38.
Of course, this is not his literal flesh and blood. He was telling his disciples that he was the Passover lamb.
God was making a new covenant with His people. One in which we didn’t need yearly sacrifices, we needed only to believe in and obey Jesus.
At this time Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, an act of love and humility, teaching us to have that same love and humility toward one another. If God’s son can lower himself to washing feet then surely I can repent of my pride and humble myself.
For more on pride see: What Does the Bible Say About Pride and how it is Imprisoning You
Garden of Gethsemane
In this Easter story for teens, I want our young people to understand that Jesus was human. I think his humanity makes him more relatable. Hebrews 4:14-16 tells us that he feels our infirmities because he was tempted like us and because of this he understands us.
After the Passover supper with his disciples, Jesus’ heart becomes heavy. He knows he is about to suffer physical persecution, separation from his father as he takes on the sins of the world, and ultimately death.
This is the climax of his ministry, the reason he had come, the fulfillment of God’s plan. Could he do it? Could he go through with it?
He had shown the power of God in his miracles, expounded on the Law of Moses, and confessed to the crowds who his father was and how we could find a connection with Him once again. Now, he must fulfill the law and become the sacrificial lamb. It is time that he take his place on the altar, enter the holiest of holies, and set his people free.
What an incredible weight to bear.
He goes to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. His disciples come with him, but the hour is late and they are clueless about what is going on (except for Judas Iscariot who is in the process of betraying Jesus). They fall asleep while Jesus prays.
Jesus prayed this three times, his inner struggle evident as he sweated and pleaded with his Father. The Bible doesn’t go into specifics, but I imagine an olive grove, dark except for a few torches the disciples had brought with them. The rough twisted bark of the trees and their silvery leaves glowing in the dim light.
Jesus’ prayers were desperate. He was faced with the greatest decision of his life. To be obedient this last time, unto death or to allow fear and his own free will to win. Isn’t this the same choice we are faced with? The choice Adam and Eve were given.
Read Matthew 26:36-44.
The Religious Leaders
While I wouldn’t include this in a post for younger kids, I do think this Easter story for teens could take a moment to understand what was going on in the minds and hearts of Jesus’ accusers. It is easy to become lofty and dislike these men, but that is because we don’t understand them.
The chief priests disliked Jesus. He made them look bad, but the people were fascinated by him so there was little they could say against him. They tried. They tempted him multiple times, trying to get him to say something against the law or Yahweh, but he knew their hearts and didn’t engage with them. He was always wise. A lesson I need myself.
So, why didn’t the religious leaders like Jesus? There are several different reasons.
First, he took all of the attention away from them. They had been the religious authority and suddenly they weren’t anymore.
Secondly, he made them look bad. He pointed out their showy behavior and hypocrisy. They wanted the praise of the people (don’t we all?) while Jesus’ actions were pure and not self-focused.
This is a good point to make. Jesus always pointed to the Father, never to himself. Study the following passages about the religious leaders of the day:
Matthew 6:5-6, and Matthew chapter 23.
Third, Jesus wasn’t what they were expecting. They wanted someone to free them from their Roman oppressors and set up a righteous kingdom here on earth. They didn’t realize that Jesus first had to free them from sin and bring eternal life.
In their defense of this last one, the Old Testament contains several verses that talk about the glorious day of this peaceful kingdom. This era is yet to come when Jesus returns as King of Kings.
Study Isaiah 11:1-9, Isaiah chapter 32, and Micah 4:1-8.
Often called Good Friday, Jesus’ crucifixion is the ultimate sacrifice for mankind. It was the shedding of the blood of the Son of God that brought us eternal life and reconciled us with our creator.
Jesus’ trial and crucifixion are found in Matthew chapter 27 and Luke chapters 22 and 23.
After Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, he was taken before the Sanhedrin which was the Jewish court in the day. The court was made up of sages who dealt with civil and religious matters. They technically didn’t have the power to arrest anyone, nor did they have the authority to enforce capital punishment.
Because of being ruled by the Romans, arrests and severe punishments fell under their authority. I’m sure the Sanhedrin was furious that they couldn’t handle Jesus, the great false prophet, on their own and they even called in false witnesses to accuse Jesus.
A few things should be noted about this “trial”.
Jesus remained quiet. He knew there was no way to defend himself against false accusations. It was also pointless to do so. He accepted that it was God’s plan for him to die on the cross for the redemption of all mankind.
Jesus remained truthful. He was forced to go along with their dishonesty, but he wasn’t about to participate in it. When asked if he was the Christ, he replied,
This is where they are convinced they are doing the right thing, but they have a problem, they can’t execute Jesus themselves. They are forced to go to the hated Romans.
First, they send him to Pontius Pilate, spinning Jesus’ supposed crimes in a political light. “He claims to be king of the Jews”. Pontius Pilate saw nothing wrong with Jesus. This humble man was hardly a threat to the Roman Empire. He sends Jesus to Herod.
Herod was actually excited to have Jesus come before him as he had heard about him and had hoped to see a miracle. Herod saw nothing threatening with Jesus either. He allowed the soldiers to mock and beat Jesus and then sent him back to Pilate.
Jesus patiently endured this ridiculous treatment, knowing that he was the Passover lamb and would die the next day in fulfillment of that holy feast.
Pilate tells the people he finds no fault with Jesus and wants to release him, but the Jewish leaders had riled up the people and they shouted that they wanted Jesus put to death. Pilate tries to get out of the situation by following the tradition of releasing a prisoner. Barabbas was sitting in jail, Pilate could give the people a choice of who to set free.
Again, the jealous religious leaders stirred up the people and they all shouted that Barabbas should be set free and Jesus executed. Pilate is still frustrated by the situation but gives in to the people and sentences Jesus to death.
Interestingly, he tries to remove the guilt from his decision by making a show of washing his hands. Of course, it was well within Pilate’s power to save Jesus and that show means nothing.
Jesus is nailed to a cross with two other prisoners and dies a slow and painful death. Just as the lambs were being slaughtered in the temple as the faithful prepared for their holy day as instructed by God thousands of years before, the Lamb of God hung on a cross bearing the sins of the world.
Read Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 22-23, and John 18-19.
Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the Empty Tomb
Now, the death of Jesus left everyone confused and afraid, even though Jesus had told everyone that he would rise again. I think people still didn’t understand how Jesus was going to deliver them. They were still looking at it physically. They didn’t realize that Jesus had to first save them from spiritual death.
And the only way to save them from spiritual death was to declare his power over it. Jesus defeated death and Satan when early Sunday morning he rose from the dead, leaving an empty tomb.
Read Matthew 28, Mark 16, John 20, and Luke 24.
What Does the Good News Mean for Us Today?
So, now that we’ve dug deep into scripture for this Easter story for teens, how do we apply what we’ve learned to our lives?
Our relationship with God has been restored. After all of these years of separation, we can now come to God as sinful humans and be washed clean by the blood of the lamb.
We are no longer bound by sin, we can live a victorious life through Christ. The world is full of sin and pain, but we can have the peace and joy of Christ.
Once we act on our faith in Christ and follow through with the steps of salvation, we are forever changed. We are new creatures and can now walk in the newness of this life.
I pray this Easter story for teens is helpful to you! Leave your thoughts in the comments below.