Jesus' Crucifixion and Resurrection
On Palm Sunday 2014, we welcomed our firstborn—a son, Elijah. At a week old, we took him to our church’s Easter service and he slept through the whole thing. Last year, right at two years old, Elijah rocked and wiggled in his seat as his Sunday School teacher told the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Later that day, there was an egg hunt. Despite my coaching, Elijah didn’t get it. I slipped eggs into his Ninja Turtles bucket, and he promptly lifted them out and pitched them into the bushes.
This year, at nearly three, Elijah now understands the concept of egg-hunting. On any afternoon, he is happy to collect the eggs and cover his eyes while I scatter them in the yard. Again and again. I endure a lot of repetition in these early years—the same library book over and over, the same song on repeat, the same oatmeal each morning. I sometimes pause when I’m reading or singing to him, and he recites the rest of the line. He is a sponge.
As we look forward to celebrating his fourth Easter, I’m excited to tell him the greatest news. He’s heard the story already, but it doesn’t get old: Jesus died on the cross and is alive! I’ll repeat it—again and again—until it sinks in. And even then, I’ll say it some more. This Sunday, many of the kids you teach will likely be familiar with the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. But whether you are sharing the story of Easter for the first time or the twentieth time, keep these things in mind:
1. Don’t assume the gospel.
This one may seem obvious, but don’t assume every kid will connect the dots that these events in history are the center of a bigger picture. At every age, remind kids that Jesus was killed and this was part of God’s plan all along. Use the parts of The Gospel: God’s Plan for Me to walk step-by-step through the gospel narrative.
2. Ask questions.
Asking questions not only engages the quieter kids, it challenges everyone to think more deeply about a familiar story. Especially with older kids, prompt them to consider questions such as these:
- Why did the people want to kill Jesus?
- What did Jesus’ death do for us?
- Why is the resurrection important?
- Where is Jesus today?
3. Apply the story.
Jesus’ death and resurrection has changed everything! Lead kids to live in light of the gospel. Consider these prompts to guide discussion.
- How does Jesus’ resurrection give us hope?
- What reasons do we have to be joyful?
- What reasons do we have to forgive others?
The true message of Easter can get jumbled in the games, activities, and events associated with this celebration. As you teach that Jesus died on the cross and rose again, emphasize why this is good news. Jesus came to die to bring people to God. (1 Pet. 3:18) In Him, we have forgiveness of sin and eternal life. Now that’s a reason to celebrate.
What challenges do you face in teaching the Easter story to kids? Leave a comment below.
Here is more help for leaders preparing for the April 16, 2017 session (Unit 20, Session 2) of The Gospel Project for Kids.
Alyssa Jones has been a content editor for The Gospel Project for Kids since 2011. She lives with her husband, Nate, and their two kids—Elijah and Elsa—in Nashville, TN. Alyssa volunteers with the kids’ ministry at Refuge Church, a church plant in Franklin, TN.