Around Easter every year, we start to think about how we’re going to talk to our kids about Jesus’ death – which can be a tricky topic for little kids that most people like to skirt around. I get it; it is not an easy one. Who wants to talk to kids about torture or gruesome death?
Talking about Jesus’ death isn’t really all that bad, I actually invite the conversation. That may seem crazy, but Jesus’ death was a gift. His death was the fulfillment of a before-time-began plan and it wasn’t scary or gross, it was beautiful.
It was a perfect example of love and sacrifice, but how do we explain that to our preschoolers and elementary school kids? How do we tell them that there is more to it than the Easter Bunny and basketball full of goodies. 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, 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 for them 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 sacrifice here is a fun and unique activity:
Get two glasses, and put about a ½ cup of water in each. Add about a tablespoon of bleach in one of them (don’t show your kids). Get some food coloring, and let your kids put a few drops in the cup without bleach. Explain that our sins get into everything and cover ALL of us (we are the water). But with Jesus all of that has been removed, because of His sacrifice, only He can clean away our sin. Explain that Jesus is the clean and clear water. Now pour the (bleach) water into the colored water cup. The bleach will clear it up and remove the color. Use this to talk about how the demonstration shows us that Jesus took away all of our sin because of his sacrifice.
The best part about the story of Jesus’ death is not that He died, but that He came back to life!
When you’re talking to your kids about Jesus’ death, stay on it for a brief amount of time, then move onto another topic. 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, and winter’s cold which leads to fresh spring!
Before we admire daffodils and lilies bloom, we have to go through winter and 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 because the purpose of talking about Jesus’ death is so that we can 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!