“He isn’t here! God has raised him to life, just as Jesus said he would. Come, see the place where his body was lying.” (CEV) Matthew 28:6
Easter is a wonderful Christian holiday because we get to celebrate our salvation. However, to get to Easter, we first have to get through Good Friday, when we solemnly commemorate Jesus’ gruesome death on a cross. Yes, we know that his death and resurrection are why we can fully enter into fellowship with God, but it can still be hard to talk about how Jesus died, especially with children. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be. Here are a few ways that you can talk about Jesus’ death on a cross in age-appropriate ways.
The Good Shepherd
Read where Jesus refers to himself as a shepherd. In Matthew 18:12-14 and in Luke 15:3-7, he tells the story of a shepherd who leaves his flock to find the missing one. Then in John 10:7-18 Jesus calls himself the Good Shepherd because he cares so much about his sheep that he is willing to give up his life to protect them from wolves. At the end of the parable, Jesus tells us that he chose to give his life for us when he says “No one takes my life from me. I give it up willingly!” (John 10:18).
Ask your children what they think it means to be a sheep who needs to be protected. Talk about how a good shepherd would protect sheep from wolves. How does it make them feel to know that Jesus is their shepherd?
Seek and Save
This week’s devotion told a story about a Search and Rescue team. Like Jesus, they willingly step into dangerous situations to find lost people. In Canada, the Search and Rescue team’s motto is “That Others May Live.”
What does it mean for someone to willingly give up their life to save someone else? How did Jesus live out that motto? How does it make them feel to know that Jesus is their rescuer?
The Big Rescue Plan
Talk about Jesus’ death on the cross as part of God’s Big Rescue Plan. From the very beginning in Genesis, God knew we would need to be saved. He even knew how he was going to do it. He told us the plan when he spoke to the serpent: “You and this woman will hate each other; your descendants and hers will always be enemies. One of hers will strike you on the head, and you will strike him on the heel” (Genesis 3:15).
Pick your favorite Bible stories and talk about what God is doing in them. The Bible isn’t about Abraham, Ruth, David, or Mary. It’s about God and how he wants to save us through Jesus. Ask your child where they see glimpses of Jesus in these stories and ask them how God saves the people he loves.
Then talk about how Jesus saved you. Ask your child where they see Jesus working in their own lives or if they’ve ever let God rescue them. If they can’t come up with an answer, tell them a story about when you’ve seen Jesus working in your life or theirs.
The cross is a big part of our salvation story. Jesus came to the earth “to look for and to save people who are lost” (Luke 19:10). This Easter as you talk to your children about Jesus’ death on the cross, don’t forget to talk about how it was his choice and it was all part of God’s Big Rescue Plan.
Want to do a deep dive? Check out Family Fire's article Living Our Easter Identity