For many families, the story of Easter is nothing more a gigantic rabbit leaving eggs all over the lawn, followed by a Pinterest-worthy lunch and maybe a church service thrown in for good measure. For Christians, however, Easter begins in The Garden with death becoming a reality because of sin. There is unspeakable joy when we gather together to celebrate the fact that God, in His grace, invites us to live with Him eternally, and the invitation comes in the all-powerful person of Jesus Christ.
As we prepare to celebrate Palm Sunday in a few days, I have noticed something concerning in what I am reading—or in this case, not reading. I am sure many of you have noticed how many conversations completely skip past the reality of Good Friday. I spent a solid two hours in a local Christian bookstore only to find exactly two out of the dozens of Bibles geared toward children that even mentioned Jesus’s death! That shocked me beyond belief. Truth be told, I was disgusted that a half-truth is generating so much profit for these publishers. When did sheltering our children from the cross become okay?
No matter the age, the reality of who we are and Whose we are should be taught. Clearly, simply, and completely. There is no “safe” time to share the full truth of what our Savior went through. In this politically correct day and age, it is all the more important to recognize there would be no Easter Sunday if there had not been Good Friday. While you may not want to show your youngest ones “The Passion of the Christ” yet, you can teach them the full and complete story of who Jesus is and what He has done on their behalf in ways that make it more meaningful and real.
- Read The Bible and Act It Out! It sounds so simple, right? That is because it is! In our haste to have the latest and greatest, we look to the newest devotional to hit the marketplace rather than simply turning to the perfect and complete Word of God. While you are at it, get creative and act out the scenes. Make costumes, if you are feeling really crafty. The more senses you use, the more vivid stories become.
- Bake a Cake. A cake? What does a cake have to do with Good Friday? First, this is not my idea, but I think it is so clever I need to pass it on. Make a sweet little lamb cake and go a step further—discuss how Jesus, the Lamb of God, was slain for us. When you cut the cake, talk about what sacrifice looked like and how Christ remains the final sacrifice. I love how simple this idea is, yet it provides ample opportunity to talk about how something so beautiful can be destroyed in a moment. Then, when you go to make those popular resurrection rolls Easter morning, you can keep the conversation going about the incredible beauty that comes from the ashes.
- Crack the Eggs. It does not cost a dime to share The Gospel, and I am a big believer in not spending money on unnecessary items (notice the first bullet point). But I must say, Resurrection Eggs are worth the investment. You can make them for free, or you can purchase the ones we use in our home and use all year. There is no reason to put things away that have to do with the life and death of Christ; it is a reality for the believer every moment, so keep tangible things available at all times. The same goes for your plastic nativity sets. There is no need to only pull that out at Christmas. After all, it is more than a cute story—it is The Story. If you are not familiar with these items, I will share some links on our parenting page HERE.
- Write It Out. Aside from reading the Bible, this is one of the greatest things you can do as a family. Talk about sin and the things each person in your family struggles with. Have everyone write these things down and then use nails or thumb tacks to place them on a cross. We have a wooden cross where you can physically place a nail through the piece of paper, but one could easily draw a large cross on a poster board and do the same thing. As you place those pieces of paper on the cross, remind your children that Jesus gave his life for our sins, and when we confess them, He is faithful and just to forgive them (1 John 9).
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!” And Jesus said to him,“Truly I tell you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” Luke 23:42-43
If we are not proactive, we can get wrapped up in the phenomenal celebration of Resurrection Sunday while bypassing the suffering of Good Friday. Jesus—God in the flesh—rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. The Son of God. King of Kings. Lord of Lords. He rode a donkey! He washed feet. Dirty, smelly, non-pedicured feet. He broke bread and gave thanks knowing what was to come. Most children in Christian homes can tell you parts of this story, but many cannot tell you that their feet are dirty and those sins were theirs. Heck, some adults cannot tell you that! Do not wait for the church to teach your children. You are their parent, and you can teach them, even now! Be engaged and determined to disciple them. And if you do not feel equipped, remember God gave you His Word and has provided all the answers. Or, if you do not trust Jesus as your Lord and Savior, please reach out, and we will be happy to answer any questions you have!
P.S.—Check that children’s bible on your bookshelf. If Good Friday is not there, there is nothing good about it.
Gabbie Nolen-Fratantoni loves Jesus and is passionate about serving him through the arts by leading worship and writing for various ministries. She is married to Greg, her hard-working, iron-sharpening-iron spouse. They are opposite in personality but equal in dedication to their marriage and family. Gabbie and Greg are the proud and sleep-deprived parents of two active, sweet, and fun boys and one gentle, joy-filled, little girl. An Aggie and graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, Gabbie is a small-town country girl trapped in the city. She loves getting to know people and encouraging them as they seek to know Jesus and make him known.
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