Do you water down the Easter story for kids?

easter story for kids

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.
Notice we didn’t show photos of Jesus being whipped or stabbed. We showed no blood. But we did convey truth, in a way that is appropriate for a child to understand.

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.

You can listen to a podcast of some great kid friendly Easter Outreach ideas here

What do you think? What is appropriate to share with kids when it comes to Jesus death?

About the Author

Ron is happily married to his best friend, and dad to the best daughter you could imagine. As a teacher and children's pastor, he has over 20 years experience of teaching, leading, writing, creating and consulting. He has written for churches, contributed to several collaborative publications, and written a #1 Best Selling Devotional, Got Fruit? on Amazon. His blog is consistantly listed in the Top 40 Children's Ministry Blogs and Websites. Don't hesitate to ask if you think he could help you and your ministry in any way.

4 Comments on "Do you water down the Easter story for kids?"

  1. If anything I run the risk of going too graphic. I want the kids, and adults, to know and to think about how bad his punishment was and he willingly took that for us.

    • I agree— we look at the whole subject differently if we stop and consider the pain, suffering, and torture Jesus endured for us. I think that is important for our kids to understand.

  2. Thank you
    My daughter in law out of the blue (after years of prayer) asked me to share the Easter story with my grandsons 4 and 6. Its very last minute and left me scrambling for resources. Every story Ive looked at has been dumbed down so much there is little truth left. I was beginning to doubt myself thinking all these childhood experts must know better but you have given me the confidence to speak truth to them. The Easter story makes no sense without the suffering. There was a price to pay for our salvation and only Jesus could do it. The resurrection does not even sound real without what went before. These kids have been brought up on batman and star wars. They know about evil, good and bad, right and wrong, they even understand the concept of heroes making sacrifices for the good of others and yet in church we try to spare kids the realities. So I’m going to write my own story with some graphics – nothing too confronting. Thanks so much for what you have shared – it will guide how I present this to my precious family.

    • Thanks so much for sharing Jenny. Kids can often understand more than we give them credit for, but we do have to be sure to communicate in a way that is appropriate.

      The Resurrection doesn’t mean much of you don’t know what led up to it. I’m glad you found this- and yes- be confident when you teach. I’ll be praying for you and your family. I’d love to hear how it goes for you! So exciting.

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