More Than the Facts: Helping Kids Understand the Meaning of Easter

Easter is just a few weeks away, and we’re getting prepared.

Parents rummage through their children’s spring wardrobe then have them play dress-up to make certain that cute Easter outfit purchased on sale over the summer still fits. Grandparents are buying up chocolates and plastic eggs to make sure the baskets are ready.

Church staff teams are preparing too. They’re getting ready for a larger-than-normal amount of visitors. This may mean ordering pastries to put out in the lobby, picking up an additional bag (or three!) of coffee beans, and preparing an insert for the bulletin that tells about the church’s mission and ministries. The weeks before Easter are also a time of preparation for the children’s ministry––cleaning baseboards, sanitizing toys, and restocking crayons.

Both churched and unchurched people prepare for Easter because it’s a cultural celebration. But for Christians, even though we might enjoy the Easter candy and dressing up, we prepare because we know that the resurrection is essential. So the best way to prepare your family for Easter is to share with your children why the resurrection is essential.

Teach Kids the Fact of the Resurrection.

The very fact of the resurrection is necessary for the Christian faith. The apostle Paul says, “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (1 Cor. 15:14). The claim that a dead man got up out of his grave is at the heart of what we believe. Many Christian apologists––those who spend their time giving credible answers to the Bible’s skeptics––see Christ’s resurrection as the doctrine that makes our faith more believable; it’s the hinge upon which the truth of Christianity swings.

As we prepare for Easter, many will pick up a book like Lee Strobel’s recent best-seller, The Case for Easter, to remind themselves of the evidence. The resurrection is one of the only miracles that’s reported in every one of the Gospels and also across every New Testament genre; it’s also attested by a source outside of the Bible, the Akhmim fragment;[1] and it’s the event for which the Apostles gave their lives!

I know Sunday school teachers who get really excited about teaching these facts to kids, and that’s good because the reality of the resurrection is essential. One of the best ways to teach young kids––even toddlers––about the fact of the resurrection is to teach them the Easter greeting. My dad would wake us up on Easter morning with the words, “He is risen!” I learned from a very young age to echo back: “He is risen, indeed!” You can also read the story of the resurrection from a Bible storybook, and, as your kids get older, have them act out the events of John 20 (Peter and John’s race to the tomb is really fun!), and even talk to them about the evidence we have for believing that the resurrection is true.

But whatever you do, don’t stop there.

Show Kids the Impact of the Resurrection

Romans 4:25 says this: “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” The fact that the resurrection happened in history is essential to our faith. But that fact is essential precisely because of what the resurrection accomplished. Read the last part of that verse again. Paul tells us that Christ was raised for our justification. When Christ was raised, his perfect, sinless life was vindicated (1 Tim. 3:16). The resurrection justified his claim that he is God. And, because we are united to Christ by faith, we’re raised and justified with him (Col 2:13; 3:1). So if you believe in Christ––because he lives––everything that Jesus accomplished through his perfect life and death for our sins counts for you! It’s just what the prophet Isaiah predicted: “After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities” (Is. 53:11).

Children need to know that Jesus rose. But more importantly, they need to know that Jesus rose for them! This Easter, start with the facts but don’t stop there. Easter changed everything. So, help your little ones know, understand, and believe it! Carve out some time with your kids to reflect upon and even memorize some of the “for me” verses in the Bible: “I know that my redeemer lives” (Job 19:25–26); “He loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20); and because he lives, “the Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are the children of God” (Rom. 8:16).

As you prepare for Easter, show your kids the impact of the resurrection by giving them your time, presence, love, and joy. Hide and hunt those eggs that third and fourth time. Enjoy a chocolate bunny! And let your kids hear you sing with joy in your heart because your Savior lives! I’ll be wearing out John Wilbur Chapman’s 1910 classic:

Living, he loved me; Dying, he saved me;
Buried, he carried my sins far away;
Rising he justified now freely forever:
One day he’s coming––O glorious day!

Jesus Rose for Me: The True Story of Easter

Jesus Rose for Me by author Jared Kennedy helps toddlers and preschoolers understand the true meaning of Easter in a personal, memorable way.

[1] See Timothy Paul Jones, Why Should I Trust the Bible? The Big Ten: Critical Questions Answered, (Christian Focus, 2019), 95.

About the author

Jared Kennedy

Jared Kennedy, MDiv, ThM, serves as an editor at The Gospel Coalition and as cofounder of Gospel-Centered Family, a ministry that helps churches and families share Jesus with the next generation. He is the author of The Beginner's Gospel Story Bible and the Beginner's Gospel Story Book series, God Made Me for Worship, and Keeping Your Children's Ministry on Mission. He is coauthor of Faith Builder Catechism. He has also helped develop two VBS programs, Proof Pirates and Clap Your Hands, Stomp Your Feet. He and his wife, Megan, have three daughters.

Add Comment

Recent Posts