On the way home from church yesterday, I asked my kids what they talked about during their classroom time. "We talked about hope," they replied. Ok, not a bad thing to talk about the Sunday before Easter. "What was the Bible story about?" I asked. I got blank looks. "Did you talk about Jesus entering Jerusalem?"
Now, that might seem like an odd question to ask. A lot of kids probably came home from church yesterday with palms. Of course, they talked about Jesus' entry into Jerusalem. But our church sometimes does things a little bit differently. We stopped giving out palms years ago. While I miss the tradition, I also appreciate that buying palm leaves for hundreds of children is expensive and may not be the best way to steward our resources.
My kids did talk about Jesus' entry into Jerusalem and his crucifixion in their classroom time yesterday, but they did it in the context of hope. It was a new way of thinking about a very familiar biblical account for most of those kids. A lot of our kids have been in church, hearing the account of Jesus' death and resurrection for years, some for their whole lives. Every Easter, they hear the same thing. It's as familiar to them as their favorite bedtime story.
The challenge for us as parents is to make the Easter account new and inspiring for our kids. Think about it. The God of the universe came to earth as a man, died on a cross, then three days later rose again -- all so that we could have a relationship with Him. That's pretty amazing stuff, better than any superhero story.
The wonder of Easter is summed up in Luke 24:6-7 "He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.'" Jesus is the only person who has ever beaten death, the only one who rose again. That is the hope of Easter.
This week, we're going to focus on simple ways you can bring the awe of Easter to your kids' attention. Jesus' death and resurrection isn't a story, it really happened. Our kids need to know that and understand the hope that Easter brings us. Start your week off with these simple conversations:
- Ask your kids to tell you what they know about Easter. Talk with them about how the account of Easter is real. If you have older kids, check out the book Resurrection iWitness. We're reading through this together as our family devotional at dinner each night. It's a book that talks about the accepted scholarly facts around Jesus' death and resurrection, then uses those facts to show that the biblical account of the resurrection is the only possible explanation that meets all the facts. You can learn more about it here.
- Talk about Jesus' death on the cross. Ask your kids if they understand why Jesus died. For smaller kids, keep it simple. Talk about how we all do things that are wrong and that separates us from God. Jesus died and rose again so we could be close to God. Create a bridge out of blocks and explain that we're on one side and God is on the other. If Jesus hadn't died, then we would be forever separated from God. Jesus acts as a bridge. With older kids, talk about sin and how the Bible tells us that the consequences of sin is death. Without Jesus' death, there would be no way for us to have a relationship with God.
- Talk about the resurrection. Often, we focus so much on the crucifixion that our kids don't understand the significance of the resurrection. Without the resurrection, Jesus is just another guy who claimed to be God. In defeating death, He proved He is who He said He was. Don't let your kids miss the wonder of the empty tomb. Ask your kids if they know of anyone else who was dead for three days, who then came back to life. Explain the Jesus is the only one who ever did that.
Talking with your kids about Easter is a great way to start off this holy week. Make time to have conversations with your kids about Easter. Check out this month's dinner discussions, too. All month you'll be talking about spring and Easter. Keep the conversation going because our amazement at the events of Easter shouldn't stop on Sunday.