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The Cross is Not a “Flyover”

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This is Holy Week and, as a Sunday school teacher, I have always found it somewhat frustrating that in our teaching cycle Good Friday is situated between two joyous celebrations. If we are not careful and intentional, Jesus’ death on the cross can become a “flyover” between Palm Sunday and Easter.

Think about it for a moment. Both Palm Sunday and Easter lend themselves to all sorts of wonderful and exciting possibilities for the children—colorful crafts and activities, boisterous songs, and happy Bible stories. But what about the cross? It doesn’t lend itself to these naturally appealing activities, does it? The story of Jesus’ death on the cross is filled with pain, sorrow, betrayal, abandonment, and darkness. It is the story of a holy and righteous Father pouring out His just wrath at sin on His one beloved sinless Son. But without the cross there would be no reason to celebrate Palm Sunday or Easter.

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:24 ESV)

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, (Ephesians 1:7 ESV)

Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. (Romans 5:9 ESV)

That is why our children need the “sad” story of Jesus’ death on the cross—the pain, the nails, and even the wrath and the blood—if they are to ever to truly understand, embrace, and celebrate Palm Sunday and Easter in their hearts. So let’s make sure that we leave plenty of room for telling and explaining the story of the Cross. May it never be a “flyover” in our church calendar, but may we thoughtfully, truthfully, and passionately proclaim its immeasurable significance.

Patiently Awaiting the Harvest

Spring is in the air—almost. And as an avid gardener, I have great expectations. But first, there’s work to do. After all, gardening involves hard work. Yes, there’s the actual physical work—hauling compost, turning over the soil, hoeing, planting, weeding, etc. But for me, the hardest part of gardening is the waiting. Waiting for spring. Waiting for the last frost. Waiting for the first sprouts to come up. Waiting for the first flowers to blossom. Waiting for the first vegetables to develop. Working and waiting.

In a sense, that is what faithful children’s ministry is all about. It is like gardening. It is a commitment to faithful work and hope-filled waiting. Sometimes it is hard not to be impatient. Every lesson taught anticipates children responding with genuine faith and bearing spiritual fruit. And while it is true that the Holy Spirit may move in such a way to make that happen before our very eyes on any given day, it is also likely that we will not “see” any spiritual fruit at times. Instead, we might see inattentiveness, boredom, indifference, lack of true understanding, and rebellious hearts. In those times it is especially important to hold on to these words from the apostle Paul,

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. (1 Corinthians 3:6)

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58)

So be encouraged. Keep preparing the soil of a child’s heart. Keep planting the seed of the Gospel. Water carefully and often with the Word of God and words of encouragement. And then pray that God, in His sovereign grace and perfect wisdom, will bring about a fruitful harvest.

So keep working, because in Christ your faithful labors are not in vain.

And keep patiently watching and waiting, because the Lord of the Harvest is at work!

Looking for an excellent resource on how parents and teachers can be more effective in nurturing the faith of a child? Read Art Murphy’s The Faith of a Child: A Step-by-Step Guide to Salvation for Your Child.

Photo Credit: Lauren Mitchell
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