By Laura Richie, Crosswalk.com
Easter is a special time of year. Often occurring in the spring, it brings to mind budding trees and cheerful birdsong. Hope and fresh starts fill the air. As the earth wakes up from the dreary days of winter, we have an excellent opportunity to discuss with our kids the new life Jesus brings.
Growing up, I heard a lot about Jesus’ death. I was taught that Jesus died in my place for my sin so that I could be saved and go to heaven when I died. I knew that Jesus came back to life on Easter, but that detail seemed peripheral—almost like a happy ending to an otherwise tragic story. Despite faithful church attendance, I had some big gaps in my understanding of Jesus.
First, if I was honest, I saw God as an angry person who expected perfection. If I didn’t measure up and obey His laws well enough, He would punish me and send me to hell. How could I love Someone like that? Second, I didn’t understand what really happened when Jesus came back to life—why did His resurrection matter? Third, a disconnect existed between being saved now and my future life in heaven—what was I supposed to do in the meantime?
As I explored these questions and a few others, I realized that I couldn’t explain Jesus to my children until I understood the answers myself. So I decided to research, pray, and write. Two children’s books grew out of this quest. My first book, The Advent Storybook, shows why Jesus came at Christmas. My second book, The Easter Storybook, reveals who Jesus is and why His life, death, and resurrection still matter two thousand years later.
In order to explain the importance of Easter to our kids, I think we need to answer five basic questions.
1. Why Did Jesus Come?
To find this answer, we must start at the beginning. When God created the world, He made everything good. There was no evil, pain, or death. God made a beautiful garden full of everything Adam and Eve could need. But an evil serpent whispered lies, and when people believed those lies, everything shattered. The perfect friendships between God, people, and the world were broken. But God spoke a promise: One day, a Son would come to crush evil forever.
Through the centuries, people waited, longing for the Promised Son. This Messiah, or Rescuer, would end evil and make all things good and new again like they were in the beginning. He would bring people close to God and each other. The Advent Storybook traces this hope through ancient history. Finally, in the fullness of time, Jesus came! We celebrate his long-anticipated arrival every Christmas.
2. Who Is Jesus?
Jesus is the Son promised by God who would end evil and restore all that is broken. The Jewish people called Him the Messiah—the King who would make all things right. But Jesus wasn’t the King that many people expected. He didn’t come to conquer and kill; instead, He came to rescue and bring peace.
Jesus had the power to calm storms, heal diseases, and bring people back to life. He had the love to rescue broken sinners and value people that others ignored or despised (like tax collectors, women, and children). He told stories that captivated his listeners, teaching people about God, His Kingdom, and our need to be rescued. After living a life of perfect love, He became the sacrifice that brought people close to God and each other again. Then He came back to life to conquer death and make all things new.
3. Why Did Jesus Die?
When God made the world, death was not part of it; instead, everything was good. God gave His people a beautiful home with only one restriction: Don’t eat from the tree of knowing good and evil. God warned the man that if he ate from that tree, he would die. And that’s what happened, both to Adam and to every person since.
Death involves separation. When we die, our body separates from our soul. Death separates us from friends and family. And Adam and Eve experienced the most painful separation immediately: Separation from God, who is Goodness and Life and Love. Death is an enemy, and the only way to defeat death was for the Author of Life to die then victoriously return to life.
For centuries, the Jewish people recognized the problem of their sin. Sin broke their friendship with God and with each other. Sin resulted in death—in separation. But God provided a way to heal those broken friendships and come close to God and each other again. The people called this way korban, a Hebrew word that means “come close.” We call this sacrifice.
Jesus was the perfect sacrifice who would conquer sin and death, bringing people close to God and each other forever.
4. What Happened When Jesus Came Back to Life?
When Jesus died to bring us close to God and each other again, several things happened right away. First, the curtain in the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. That curtain separated people from God’s presence in the holiest place in the Temple. But Jesus came to bring us close to God again. Ever since Adam and Eve, we have all chosen the pain and separation of sin and death. But Jesus died in our place, and now nothing can separate us from God’s love! Second, when Jesus died, rocks split apart and tombs were opened. Many people buried in those tombs came back to life because of Jesus.
When Jesus stepped out of that grave, He conquered evil and death. He defeated our enemies and brought us close to God and each other again. Since Jesus came back to life, we know that we, too, will have life with Him—this broken world is not the end. “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor.15:22). Jesus is the King who is making all things new! The resurrection shows His power to bring life out of death and beauty out of ashes. One day, all who believe will enjoy perfect friendships with God, each other, and creation once again.
5. How Does Jesus’ Life, Death, and Resurrection Affect My Life Today?
Jesus came to earth on a rescue mission. His life, death, and resurrection centered around rescue and reconciliation—He came to make all things new and good again. Jesus is the King who invites everyone who believes—everyone who realizes their need for Him—into His Kingdom of love. In His Kingdom, people enjoy peace and life and all that is good. He brings us close to God, each other, and all of creation.
Being rescued by Jesus involves so much more than just going to heaven when we die. Jesus is working right now, right where you are, to make things right. He is working to bring us close and help us love. And He invites us to join Him on His mission of rescue and reconciliation. Through God’s Spirit, we become people who love and know we are loved. Each day, we take small steps toward true love and life, remembering the hope we have because of Jesus and sharing the life and love He gives with those around us.
This Easter, let’s look around us at the new life springing up from what was barren and dead, then remember the hope Jesus won for us all.
“Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more...” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” - Revelation 21:3-5
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/evgenyatamanenko
Author Laura Richie’s latest book is The Easter Storybook: 40 Bible Stories Showing Who Jesus Is. Richie is a wife, homeschooling mom, and registered nurse; she resides in Oklahoma with her husband and four children.
This article is part of our larger Holy Week and Easter resource library centered around the events leading up to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We hope these articles help you understand the meaning and story behind important Christian holidays and dates and encourage you as you take time to reflect on all that God has done for us through his son Jesus Christ!