When I became a mom, the first feeling I remember having was one of love. The second was a deep desire to protect my child.
None of us like to seeing our children sad or disappointed. It’s part of our protective desire as a mom!
So, as a result, it can make us feel a little squeamish in situations where we have to talk about hard stories or difficult topics with them, even when they relate to the Bible.
I remember my 8 year old crying when she first started to grasp the death of Christ on the cross and what He had to go through on our behalf. It would have been easy to keep her exposure to this sorrowful, historical event limited to a glossy, cartoonish picture in a children’s Bible.
Yet at some point, we need to talk to our children about the reality of Jesus’ death and why we commemorate Good Friday. Through a sensitive, but realistic discussion about this difficult topic, we can truly help our children come to a better understanding of what it meant for Jesus to go to the cross for our salvation.
Here are five helpful talking points for sharing the biblical account of the crucifixion with your kids:
- First, start by explaining that since Jesus was truly God and truly man, part of his human life involved the experience of death. In the Old Testament, people of faith followed the instructions from God by offering sacrifices to Him to make up for their sins. Many times, this was an animal, such as a lamb. Prophets shared good news with God’s people that they wouldn’t always have to offer sacrifices, because there was a perfect lamb who was going to come and make everything right between people and God, forever.
- Share that Jesus’ death on the cross was difficult and painful. Explaining why this is will help our children process this hard truth. You can say something like this: The Lamb of God that all the Old Testament prophets spoke of was Jesus! This meant that He would need to give Himself on the cross to make everything right between us and God the Father. Jesus did not sin. But because Jesus came to earth as a man, he experienced everything we do, including pain. Even though it probably didn’t seem fair that Jesus went through this, He did it for an amazing reason!
- Jesus is God. The reason He went to the cross, even though He never sinned, is because He loves us so much and wants us to be forgiven of our sins! It was God the Father’s plan to have Jesus die on the cross so that we can be “reconciled” (have peace) with God the Father.
- After He died, he was buried in a tomb. Two friends, Joseph and Nicodemus, took him to the tomb. This was a place where rich people were usually buried. This fulfilled the prophecy from Isaiah 53:9: “And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.”
This is the KJV, but you can read it in any translation that you feel will help your kids to understand this truth! This fact is very important because it helped people to know how Jesus fulfilled all the prophecies told by the prophets, so they would understand that He is the promised Messiah!
- On the third day, He rose again! The tomb was empty! This showed that Jesus had victory over death and sadness. Share with your kids that it’s okay to be sad over Jesus’ death on the cross because it helps us understand how much He loves us! Remind them that we can have great joy after the sadness, because Jesus is alive. When we understand that we sin and believe in Jesus, we are forgiven and can live with joy and peace! (1 John 1:9)
If you’d like, pray a prayer like this with your child. “Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross for me. I know it was painful for you and that you did it because of your great love for everyone. Please forgive me. Thank you for saving me! Thank you for loving me and wanting everything to be right again. I am so glad that you are risen and live forever. In Your Name I pray, Amen.”
It’s my prayer that these conversation starters will lead to an even deeper discussion with your children. Feel free to really simplify these talking points for younger children! Although it can be hard to share this with our kids, we can walk them through understanding the incredible, selfless sacrifice of Christ, using discernment as parents to know when the time is right for this discussion.