Around Easter every year, we start to think about how we’re going to talk to our kids about Jesus’ death – which is a pretty tricky topic for little kids! Most people like to skirt the topic. I get it. It’s not an easy one. Who wants to talk to kids about torture? About archaic and gruesome death?
I actually enjoy talking to my kids about Jesus’ death! That may seem crazy, but here’s why I like it – Jesus’ death was a gift. Jesus’ death was the fulfillment of a before-time-began plan. Jesus’ death wasn’t scary or gross. Jesus’ death was beautiful.
But, how do we explain that to our preschoolers? To sensitive elementary school kids? To our never-experienced-it children?
I think there are two important things to focus on when you approach Jesus’ death with kids:
Kids might not understand death but they get sacrifice. For kids, giving up a favorite toy is as hard as anything they’ve ever done. Sharing or stopping or slowing down can be a complete act of will and self-control.
Talk to your kids about the hard things they’ve had to do, the times it’s been difficult to obey. Jesus was quick to obey His Father, to empty himself of all his rights and die for us.
In Philippians 2, Paul tells us that Jesus emptied Himself out to become a man and obey His father. To help your kids understand this, grab a cup of your child’s favorite drink (or maybe a special treat drink) and have them pour it out on the ground. Talk about how hard it was to pour out that favorite drink knowing you could never put it back into the container.
Jesus loves us so much he was willing to pour Himself out, sacrifice all of Himself for us. (See Matthew 26)
The best part about the story of Jesus’ death is not that He died. The best part is that He came back to life!
When you’re talking to your kids about Jesus’ death, stay on for a minute, then slide right on by and talk about life! We see this death-to-life all around us so it’s easy to make comparisons like seeds which are buried in the ground to bring new fruit, dead trees that sprout beautiful blooms, winter’s cold which leads to fresh spring! (Phil Vischer talks about this so perfectly in his book, What is Easter? Click here to read my review of the book.)
Before we admire daffodils and lilies bloom, we have to go through winter. Before we celebrate Easter Sunday, we have to get to Good Friday first.
Children don’t need all the gory details about death. The Bible doesn’t even spend very long on the crucifixion. The purpose of talking to our kids about Jesus’ death is so they see the miracle of new life.
Jesus’ death was a pre-planned act of love and sacrifice, one that would end in life so surprising and amazing that it overshadows the gruesomeness of death–and even defeats death itself. Let’s point our kids to Jesus’ loving sacrifice and His amazing resurrection life this Easter!