When teaching about Easter story, sometimes I think the some of the message gets lost in trying to protect our kids from some of the painful details. Reducing the Easter story to Jesus dying on the cross for us takes away the pain he went through for you and I. I believe Jesus cried when he was whipped. I believe that he screamed when the nails were driven through his hands. How could he not cry out in pain when the thorns were shoved into his head?
During our Easter story for kids, we shared with them much of the truth about Jesus crucifixion. I think many times we try to shelter them from the gory details, and in doing so we leave out parts of the story. The truth is Jesus was hurt. He was hurt bad, so bad he died. If you leave out too many of the details, you are at risk of watering down the Easter story for kids.
I am not saying we should show The Passion of the Christ to them, because that would not be appropriate. There are ways that we can share the story in a truthful, but still kid friendly way. (kid-friendly is different than watering down, sugar coating, or omission).
How to make the Easter Story Appropriate for kids
A few examples that we shared with our kids were: a whip, a sword, and a purple cloth.
- Sword: I have a large prop sword (its about 4 feet long) that I brought in. It helped to visualize a sword completely passing through a person’s body, as the guards did to Jesus.
- Whip: The whip I brought had 2 ‘tails’, which is still 7 short of the kind Jesus was whipped with. Even a step further, I have read that the whip was dipped in tar and drug through the stones and broken pottery to help slice through the skin on his back.
- Robe: Keep in mind that much of what was done to Jesus was done in a mocking way. The purple robe was a symbol of royalty, but the guards were mocking Jesus. When they put the robe on him, it was after his back was ripped up by the whip. Have you ever cut your arm and had your shirt stick to the wound because of the dried blood? What happened when you took off your shirt? Chances are, your cut started to bleed again. Imagine Jesus’ back as they took the robe off of him. All of the stripes on his back were tore open again. We shared this with our kids—and it was quiet in the room. They were really grasping the pain that Jesus went through. We heard from several parents that their kids shared the entire story with them.
Of course we know that Jesus death had to happen, but the story did not end there. On the third day Jesus defeated death and rose from the grave! Even in adult circles we sometimes reduce Easter to a simple ‘Jesus died on the cross but he rose again’. While that is the truth, it is not the whole truth. In your excitement to share Jesus resurrection, don’t forget that we need to share what he went through because of his love for us that lead to his death and resurrection.
What do you think? What is appropriate to share with kids when it comes to Jesus death?