We were driving home from AWANA last night when my older daughter mentioned that she was having trouble answering one of the questions in her AWANA book. For those who don't know, AWANA is a progam for kids that many churches use. It includes some hefty scripture memory, games and a large-group teaching time. The kids work on finishing a workbook every year. So, I asked my daughter what the question was. She said, "Why is it important that Jesus rose again?" I nearly wrecked the car as it dawned on me that we had clearly done a good job of teaching our kids that Jesus had died for them but we had done a terrible job of helping them understand that Jesus' death would have been worthless if He hadn't risen again three days later.
I think this is a common failing in the way we and the church present the gospel to our kids. We focus so much on Jesus' sacrifice that we forget to give equal focus to his victory over death. Jesus' death on the cross would have been just another death if He hadn't risen from the dead three days later. Of all the religions in the world, most of them claim to have prophets or gods that walked the earth. But, they all died. Only Jesus conquered death and rose again.
Romans 6:23 says "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." This means that when we sin, we deserve death, both spiritual and physical. For Jesus' death to be a sacrifice for sin, He had to conquer the consequences of sin, which is death. If He had simply died on the cross, it would have meant nothing. By rising again, He showed that He had power over death, making his sacrifice on the cross an action that can keep us from an eternity without God.
As we teach our kids about the saving power of Jesus' sacrifice, we need to keep in mind that His resurrection is equally important as His death. Without resurrection, there is no victory.
- Memorize Romans 6:23 with your kids this week. Talk about how the consequence for sin is death. Remind your kids that Jesus conquered death when He rose from the dead after three days and that's why we can have eternal life with God.
- Whenever you talk with your kids about Jesus' death, remember to talk about His resurrection as well. Make sure your kids understand that one action without the other would not have provided a way for us to have a relationship with God and the opportunity to have eternal life.
Think of Jesus' death and resurrection as a matched pair -- one without the other is worthless. Remember that His resurrection is an equally important part of the story and we need to make sure our kids understand that.