“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” I think the writer of the Christmas song got it wrong. In my humble opinion, Easter is the most wonderful time of the year. It’s not because Easter is the herald of spring, although after Ohio got blanketed with a historic one to two feet of snow over the weekend, it is tempting to believe that! Easter is the most wonderful time of the year for Christians because we celebrate the pivotal weekend of all history, the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The historical events of Easter and the reasons behind the events are hard for children to grasp. They barely have a concept of death much less comprehend that something dead can come back to life. The thought of the atoning death of Jesus is so abstract and steeped in Old Testament symbolism that it’s hard for even adults to comprehend. If children grow up in the church, they take the events for granted and accept it as truth. “Of course Jesus rose from the dead.” They’ve heard it all their lives.
As a teacher of children, how can you help your kids get past the passive head knowledge acceptance of the truths of the Crucifixion and Resurrection? Remember, children are concrete thinkers and kids of today are visually oriented. In explaining what Jesus did, use visual images and object lessons of things with which they are familiar. Here is one craft activity you can do to help them understand the work of Christ at the cross.
Give each child a blank white sheet of paper. Ask them to think of something they have done wrong, a rule they have broken, a nasty thought they have thought. They don’t need to tell you what it is. Ask them to make a black dot in the middle of their paper with the pencil. Ask them to think of other things they’ve done wrong and to mark a dot for each wrongdoing. Ask them if they do something wrong once a week, once a day. If they are older, have them do the math. If they sin once a day, multiply their age by the number of days in a year. How many dots would they have on their paper? Demonstrate that you can try to erase the dots, but even the best of erasers leave a smudge. In order for God to accept us, we must have a clean sheet of paper.
Ask students to then color their entire page with a red crayon, or, if you don’t mind the mess, a layer of red tempura paint. What happened to the dots? They are gone. In the same way, Jesus’ blood covers our sins. Jesus lost all of his blood when he died. He chose to die to take the punishment we deserve for the wrong things we have done. That’s why we say his blood covers our sins.
What is a way you as a teacher or parent communicate Jesus’ atoning death on the cross to the children in your life? I invite you to put your idea in the comments link below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if your idea gets a bit long. Let’s work together to share the Good News of Jesus’ death to the children we love. Next time, we’ll talk about activities for the resurrection.