Easter often brings up a tricky subject in the kidmin world: death.
How do you explain Jesus’ death to preschoolers? Or to your sensitive elementary kids? And what about kids who have recently experienced a death? Should we just gloss over that part of the Easter story to spare their feelings?
One Easter, one of the 2nd graders asked me a question that reminded me the importance of talking to kids about Jesus’ death. Her mother had passed away suddenly a few months before Easter, and after the lesson, she quietly walked up and asked, “Ms. Brittany, how old was Jesus when he died?” I responded and said “We believe he was around 33 years old.” She said, “Hmm, so he was younger than my mom when she died. I bet Jesus’ family missed him too.” (Give me a minute to stop weeping over here…)
Because we talked about Jesus’ death, this little girl was able to connect with the Easter story in a whole new way. Even though it may be uncomfortable to talk to kids about death, we can’t minimize the fact that Jesus died for our sins if we are going to celebrate the life He gives us in the resurrection.
So keep these tips in mind this Easter…
- Talk about Jesus’ death on the cross in terms of sacrifice. Kids may not understand death, but they know what it feels like to give up something that they don’t want to give up, so use that to your advantage.
- Avoid graphic details. It’s OK to mention that Jesus suffered and died, that his death separated Him from God the Father, but children can understand the sacrifice without the gory specifics.
- Always talk about Jesus’ death and resurrection at the same time. We have to address Jesus’ death because his sacrifice on the cross is crucial to the gospel, but we can’t stop there either.
Usually a story ends with death, but this is not the end of Jesus’ story. Jesus’ story ends in life, because 3 days later He defeated death and rose from the grave, and that life, that victory, is what we celebrate at Easter.