Our children are only with us for a short time and then they are grown. We have a certain number of Sabbaths with them, a limited number of holidays, a finite number of opportunities to teach them what really matters. And then they’re gone, teaching their children what they caught from us. Today I want to share a beautiful idea of a tradition my friend Kim uses for explaining Easter to children.
But first, I want you to imagine that you are in Jerusalem that Friday nearly 2000 years ago. Maybe you are with Mary, the Mother of Jesus standing at the foot of the cross. You put your arm around her while she helplessly grieves and horror creeps into the pit of your stomach as you watch what they are doing to her son… to the Son of God.
Or maybe you don’t even know what is happening. Maybe you are at home in your little clay house tending to your babies and preparing for the Sabbath when all of a sudden, in the middle of the day, everything gets eerily dark. And soon the word travels throughout Jerusalem and someone tells your husband at work and he comes home early to tell you… “They killed Jesus today. He is dead.” And that horror creeps into the pit of your stomach and won’t go away because this is the worst day, ever.
And you wake up the next day hoping it was just a nightmare but knowing it wasn’t. Because even though Sabbath morning dawns bright and clear, that feeling of dread and horror is still in the pit of your stomach and it stays there all day. They killed Jesus in cold blood and as long as Jesus is dead, nothing will be right with the world again.
But then it is Sunday! News quickly spreads that Jesus is alive! He has resurrected from the dead! It sounds too good to be true, but it is true and now with hindsight, you remember that Jesus did promise to be resurrected on the third day! And now Jesus is alive and hope has been restored to humanity!
Explaining Easter To Children Can Be Easier Than You Think
As adults, many of us have experienced terrible things and we may understand the real meaning Easter has for us… But how do we convey the depth of these emotions and the importance and amazingness of what happened that weekend to our children? Explaining Easter to children is no easy task.
My friend Kim has made it easy.
On Friday afternoon, all the lights get turned off. ALL of them. It represents the darkness that fell over the earth when Christ died. Turning the lights out clearly illustrates the physical darkness that fell on the earth, it represents how the light of the world was temporarily snuffed out that Friday afternoon and it’s also a reminder of the spiritual darkness that we will find ourselves in without Christ.
Friday evening, the family eats dinner together by candlelight. No TV, no electronics… just enjoying each other’s company by candlelight.
At the end of supper, Dad pulls out the Bible and in the glow of the candles, he reads the story of the Last Supper. And at more meals this weekend he’ll read about Jesus’ trial, His death, His resurrection and His ascension into Heaven.
The lights stay off all day Saturday and all night. Because that only Sabbath without Jesus was a dark and terrible day.
And the lights don’t come back on until Sunday morning.
Here’s Help Finding the Best Parts In the Bible
Please don’t let my retelling of the story replace reading the actual words of God. Do not think that reading a picture book to your children about the death of Christ will suffice. Over the course of Easter weekend, please take the time to read the actual words that God gave us. (You will be surprised at how much your children can understand!)
You can find different disciples’ perspectives of what happened in Jerusalem that week in Matthew 26-28, Mark 14-16, Luke 22-24, John 17-21. I have prepared a Quick Reference Guide for you, showing exactly what each gospel talks about. Click here or on the image below to be taken to the chart.
Teach Kids The Real Meaning Easter Holds:
My children are all so different! Some of them learn by hearing, some by doing, some by touching and experiencing. Here are some really neat items I found to help reinforce the true meaning of Easter in all of them, with all their various learning styles. I hope these suggestions are a blessing to your family! They are all items children can use to remind themselves over and over again, long after Easter is over.
The Case for Christ For KidsThis is technically decor and it may be breakable, but I would let my kids play with it as a special treat… especially my tactile learners!Crucifixion & Resurrection Felt Figures (Precut!)
If you choose to turn the lights out for Easter weekend this year, I would love to hear in the comments how your family enjoyed the experience!
From our family to yours, we wish each of you a wonderful holiday weekend as you spend time training your children in the most important life lesson they will ever learn.