When you sit down and think about it, you discover that Christianity makes some astonishing claims. Claims which aren’t easy to understand for adults, let alone children. So how does a parent explain Easter where the God-Man Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins (incurred from our parents), with His blood, rising from the dead and then ascending to Heaven. Not an easy job.
Fortunately, the Bible has given us four “stories” or “pictures” to help us understand what the cross is all about. The first story is of a family. If you didn’t read last week’s post, you might want to do that (click here). The next two stories are of a marketplace and a courtroom.
Do people still use coupons? I didn’t come from a coupon clipping family so I rarely think about using them. A coupon is something that can be used like real money; something we can redeem for a product. This is, somewhat surprisingly, similar to what we mean when we say Jesus redeemed us.
This is how I often explain it to students. When we sin, Romans 6:23 tells us that we literally earn sin. Now, when I work hard at my job, I earn a salary, which is money. I think it’s fair to say that I deserve the money I earn when I work. But can you imagine if I worked for DEATH!? What if for every day I worked I subtracted a day off the end of my life? Each day I would literally be earning death.
Ridiculous, isn’t it?
But this is precisely what the Bible says we do every time we sin! When we choose to disobey God, we earn death. Romans 6:16 (NLT) says, “Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.” And just like I deserve a wage for the work I do, I deserve death for the sin I commit.
The kids I work with get this. There is a transaction as real as buying Lego, every single time we sin. This leads to some major spiritual debt! It’s a debt so big that we could never hope to pay for it. But God could.
So God sent His Son, Jesus, to die on a cross so that our sin could be paid off!
1 Timothy 2:5-6 (NLT) “For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.”
This is then a powerful story of what happened on the cross! There was a marketplace where everyone was buying sin. Eventually, we had bought so much sin that we couldn’t pay it off anymore and someone had to come pay the bill or we would have to pay for it with our lives. Jesus became the payment for our sin, He redeemed us!
Most kids won’t have experienced a true courtroom moment. Hopefully. But they have pretty good imaginations so it might not be too difficult to imagine what it would be like to have to go on trial for doing something wrong.
When we sin, we incur a penalty. It is kind of like getting a penalty in hockey where the consequence is two minutes in the penalty box. However, with hockey, the penalty ends and the game goes on.
If we went on trial for stealing a car, we wouldn’t get two minutes in the penalty box, we might get a much bigger punishment, we may even have to go to jail. And the more serious the crime, the more serious the consequences.
When we sin, we haven’t just broken the rules, we haven’t just done a crime, we have rebelled against the Most High King! That’s a pretty serious offense. And there isn’t any punishment in the whole universe that lasts long enough that would satisfy breaking God’s laws.
Hell is like a penalty box that lasts forever. It’s a jail cell.
So when we sin, we are put on trial. We go before the Judge and hear about the bad thing(s) we did and then God the Judge tells us that our crime is so serious that we deserve to die for it! But this is the key… we have an awesome lawyer! A lawyer is someone who argues with the judge on your behalf to come up with a compromise for your punishment.
Our lawyer is Jesus Christ. The difference between Jesus and a human lawyer though is VERY significant. Human lawyers often argue that there isn’t enough evidence to convict their client, however, Jesus knows the evidence is pretty airtight. He knows that we are guilty. He also knows that we deserve to go to jail.
So what our lawyer did for us is offer to take our time in the penalty box. He asked permission from the Judge to not only let us go… but He took our place in jail!
When Jesus died on the cross, it was because He knew we were guilty and that our punishment was very severe. But God with undeserved kindness took our place and did the jail time we deserved for our crimes.
The courtroom is a powerful story of Easter. What an amazing God we worship! He knew that we were guilty! He knew that we were in MAJOR debt! And instead of leaving us to suffer the consequences we deserved, He died on the cross to pay our debt and take away our jail time.
“When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. 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.” Romans 5:6-11 (NLT)
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