For the past year, I have been teaching our grade 7 and 8 students about how they can have confidence as Christians. We have talked about if you can know Truth and why bad things happen to good people, among many other topics.
Lately we have been discussing other faiths. Something interesting happens when students learn for the first time about the gold discs that Joseph Smith found, or that Muhammed was visited by an angel, or that Hindu’s understand everything as being a part of one divine system. Often they listen intently, soaking in the facts. Often they grow in admiration for what Jesus did for the world and for His majesty when compared to the founders of other world religions.
Occasionally, they can’t but help laugh at concepts and stories so foreign to their world. Certainly, we can have a good time learning together, but whenever the laughter begins I am usually quick to point out that Christians believe that human beings inherited sin from two individuals who lived thousands of years ago, incurred a spiritual debt that no human could pay off, save one man who was also God, who died on a cross, rose from the dead, and whose blood has paid for our sin.
The laughter usually ends at this point.
The reality is that it is easy for us, who have grown up in the Church, to take for granted the astonishing story we find ourselves a part of. Of course, extraordinary doesn’t mean untrue, but it does require us to become thoughtful in how we help others understand our faith. And just like we struggle to find the narrative to help a young child understand “how the baby got in mommy’s tummy,” we need to struggle to help our child understand and tell the story of the most important event in world history, and the centerpiece of Christianity; Easter.
So, how can we help our kids understand the story of Easter? The Bible uses four images to help explain it; a family, a market, a courtroom and a temple. We’ll take a look at the first image now, and the next three will be explored in future blog posts!
This one is probably the easiest one for kids to understand. Who doesn’t know the feeling of getting caught doing something wrong? Or worse! The feeling of hiding something bad wondering when you’ll be found out?
When I was about 12 years old, I got one of my last spankings. I’m not an advocate of corporal punishment, but I did kind of deserve this one (it was a different time)! I had been burning the cotton off Q-tips in my bedroom. It wasn’t the smartest idea I had. After burning both ends of half a dozen Q-tips, with almost uncanny timing, my dad sauntered in my room to tell me something. He started speaking and then paused and sniffed the air.
“Have you been lighting matches in here?”
“No!” I replied with a who-would-do-something-so-foolish air.
It didn’t take dad more than 10 seconds to locate the hidden matches and burnt Q-tips. I’m not sure what made dad angrier, the burning of matches and Q-tips in the house or my lying about it, but it warranted swift action.
We can all remember that feeling.
But imagine doing something so bad that to look you mom and dad in the face would just bring wave after wave of guilt and shame. How would we ever make things right again? This is the picture of the cross. When Jesus died on the cross He did it so that we could be made right with our Father again. A concept the Bible calls reconciliation.
Romans 5:10-11 (HCSB) For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, ⌊then how⌋ much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life! And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have now received this reconciliation through Him.
I also like the simple language the NLT version uses:
Romans 5:10-11 (NLT) For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.
This picture of the cross gives you a chance to tell a story from your childhood that will get your kids laughing or thinking and then bring them to the foot of the cross. Make sure you do your homework and bring scripture to illustrate what reconciliation is. Maybe share with them the story of the Prodigal Son. This will help them to understand Easter in new and real ways.
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