How to Teach Young Children about the Meaning of Easter
My four-year-old granddaughter was in the backseat of my car last week watching a child’s Easter video, and it upset her when it commented that Jesus was hurt at the cross – no gory details, just a twist in the story. I thought, “How can I tell her the Easter story and leave out the sacrifice of Jesus at the cross?” I can’t. So what in the world do I say, “Honey, Jesus is good. But guess what? He died. He was beaten till blood gushed everywhere and then mean people hammered nails into his hands and feet on a cross. Jesus suffered TERRIBLY but was raised again. Now, let’s eat marshmallow bunnies and hunt Easter eggs and have a HAPPY day!” I don’t think so.
Then I remembered an analogy I was told years ago about how to begin the process of teaching children about God’s purpose in allowing Jesus to go the cross while incorporating the fun of both hunting then eating chocolate-filled eggs. It revolved around the use of jelly beans, and though it is theologically NOT complete by any measure – at least it’s a start. The idea is simply to introduce the seed words: sin, cross, and heaven.
So, I think I’ll try this with my precious little four-year-old.
Honey, Easter is a celebration about Jesus. We love Jesus and He loves us. Remember the song ‘Jesus loves the little children’? Let’s sing it right now. (Then I’ll continue.) Do you want Grammy to tell you a story? Let me tell you one about Jesus. (Then I’ll give her a basket with green grass and jelly beans in my hand.) Here’s a speckled jelly bean to put in your basket. See those speckles? It means that we sometimes say mean things and disobey God and our parents. We call that sin. It stains us. But God gave us Jesus to take away the sin. It was sad, but Jesus bled and died on a cross to take away our sin. Here’s a red jelly bean. It’s a reminder of Jesus’ blood for us. But guess what? Because of the cross, we are now forgiven for our speckles. Oh, thank you, Jesus! Here’s a white jelly bean because we are now clean. Then God raised up Jesus after He died and took Him to heaven. Heaven is a beautiful place. Why don’t we put your favorite color of jelly bean in the basket and let it mean heaven. (She’ll pick purple, for sure.) Hooray! Here’s a purple jelly bean for heaven. And see the green grass. Doesn’t green make you happy? Here’s a green jelly bean because Jesus makes us smile. Do you want to play a game? Good! Let’s hide Easter eggs and thank Jesus for the cross and loving us.
Friend, I’m praying for you as you lead your children to the cross of Christ for Easter. Just be willing to plant a seed, and God will water it in time.