“Into the Promised Land”: Jesus’ Crucifixion and Resurrection (EASTER)
What do you fear? Come on, be honest. We all have them. So what is it?
For me, the list begins with something happening to my family. That is my greatest fear, far and away. But I have many other fears beyond that. Heights, for example. God created gravity for a reason and we should respect it! Snakes aren’t that lovely either. Tight spaces—yeah, I can do without them. And then there is trains. Now, I love trains, but I get a wee bit uptight when I drive across railroad tracks—much to the great delight of my kids who inevitably yell, “Train!” when we cross them.
Although my kids would disagree, I would say all of my fears are rational, but not everyone’s fears are. I am sure people are afraid of just about everything. But even what almost all of us would consider to be irrational fears are still very real to the people who have them. Like monsters under the bed.
Kids Have Fears Too
My kids, like most, if not all, have gone through stages of being afraid of bumps and creeks in the house. I have had to open up closets and look under beds for monsters before my kids could go to sleep. I have had kids unwilling to venture upstairs or downstairs by themselves. Even my repeated assurances that (1) monsters aren’t real and (2) God is in control failed to bring comfort to my kids’ hearts. What they needed was their dad to be with them.
We cannot forget this: the kids we serve each week have fears—real ones. Whether that means being afraid of monsters, needles, abandonment, the dark, war, crime, terrorism, critters, storms, strangers, dying, or whatever else it might be. These are real fears that can paralyze a kid.
I’m writing this post during a time when kids and adults have been frightened by evil, twisted videos supposedly spliced into kids videos online. Depending on who you talk to, this is either a real thing or a hoax. But either way, panic ensued. This is indicative of the fallen world in which we live. This is the reality for our kids. This is what your kids will carry with them this week when you gather as a group. For some, these fears will be deeper down, dormant for the moment. For others, they will be on the backs of their minds, having just encountered one or more of them. For others, they will be at the forefront of their thinking, a boulder of worry pulling down their hearts.
Jesus Is Aware of Our Fears
Notice a phrase that appears twice in the Mt 28:1-10 resurrection account: “Do not be afraid.” It is first uttered by the angel when he met the women at the empty tomb (v. 5) and then by Jesus Himself when He met the same women along the road (v. 10). Do you see how significant this is? God is aware of our fears and He cares. Jesus and the angel did not need to acknowledge the fears of the women that morning, and they certainly didn’t have to provide comfort to them. But they did. Because we matter to an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving God.
Think of your fears again. Now think of the fears of the kids you serve. Jesus knows about every one of them. And He cares about every one of them too—even trains. That’s comforting, isn’t it? But that is just the beginning. Jesus does more than just know of our fears.
Jesus Can Free Us from Our Fears
Notice that Jesus didn’t just tell the women, “I know you are afraid.” He told them not to be afraid—in other words, they had no reason to fear. Why? Because they were safe with Him. In Christ, fear gives way to joy.
Now, I want to be clear: this is not at the core of the gospel. The gospel is not about us ultimately. It is about God’s glory. However, while our joy is not at the center of the gospel, it is not absent from it either. God desires to be glorified through our joy. Through our love for Him. Our hope in Him. Our confidence and trust in Him. Consequently, Christ does not want His people to live in fear. He wants us to live in joy. And in Him, because of the gospel, we can do just that.
Does this mean that my family is invincible? That I can walk along a tightrope without fear of falling? Or challenge an oncoming train head-on? Of course not. The gospel does not promise from hardship, pain, and adversity; it promises that hardship, pain, and adversity does not happen without a reason, that God is sovereign over it, and that one day Christ will end it forevermore.
This is the gospel we declare week-in and week-out. Proclaim it beautifully and boldly this week.
To magnify Jesus Christ is not literally to make Him bigger. His influence is already felt in three worlds: heaven, earth, and hell. Heaven is His throne, and the earth is His footstool. He fills the universe with His power. Rather, to magnify Christ … is to present Him in such a way that the hearers see Him in a more glorious, majestic, holy, sovereign, just, faithful, and mighty manner than they have ever seen Him before.” – Robert Smith Jr. 
Preschool Tip: For preschoolers, you will likely want to focus on the core message of the resurrection, especially on a day when you are likely to have many guests. Remember, that none of us can hear of Jesus dying for our sins and raising back to life too much. And that is especially important for preschoolers who need to hear things several times to learn them. If you have the smaller of preschoolers, remember that your goal is not necessarily for them to grasp the fullness of the resurrection, but rather to plant seeds in their minds and hearts for the Holy Spirit to bring to bloom when He sees fit.
Kids Tip: Like preschoolers, kids cannot hear the resurrection account too much. But that does not necessarily mean we have to teach it the exact same way each time. Read your group this week and see if it would be helpful to talk about fears. This is a big part of the student and adult study this week, so it might be helpful to talk about it with your kids too. But if you do, be sure not to focus on it—the empty tomb is the star of this week’s session.
 Robert Smith Jr., Doctrine That Dances (Nashville, TN: B&H, 2008), 25.