Telling and Explaining the Story of Calvary

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In yesterday’s post, we talked about the importance of giving children a proper context in which to understand the significance of Jesus’ death on the cross. Namely, they must understand something of God’s holiness, wrath, love, and grace. But how can we do this without unnecessarily “weighing” the story down with lengthy, deep theological explanations? Here is one suggestion:

Before or after telling the story of the crucifixion—the actual events—provide the children with a summarized context in which to understand why Jesus died on the cross. This summary could include some of the following truths communicated in age-appropriate language:

  • God created everyone and is the ruler over everyone (Psalm 24:1).
  • All people are to honor God as their Ruler by loving, trusting, and obeying Him (Deuteronomy 6:5; 10:12-13).
  • God is holy and righteous. He never sins or does anything wrong. His commands and rules are always right (Psalm 119:137; Romans 7:12).
  • God’s commands show us that we are all sinners. We do not honor, love, trust, and obey Him as we should (Romans 3:20, 23).
  • Because God is holy and righteous, He hates all sin and is right to be angry at all sin. God’s wrath is His fierce anger at sin (Habakkuk 1:13a; Romans 1:18a).
  • God has decided that the right punishment for sin is death and hell—experiencing God’s wrath forever (Romans 6:23a; 2:5).
  • God is loving, merciful, and gracious. He is kind to undeserving sinners. He made a way for sin to be rightly punished and for sinners to be saved (Psalm 145:8; Ephesians 2:4-5, 8-9).
  • Jesus is God’s holy and righteous Son. He is fully God and became fully human like us. But unlike us, Jesus never sinned (John 1:1, 14; Hebrews 4:15).
  • Since Jesus is holy and righteous, He was able to be the perfect substitute for sinners (2 Corinthians 5:21).
  • God put the punishment of sinners on Jesus and poured out on Jesus the wrath He has against sin (Romans 3:25; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 John 4:10).
  • God offers the free gift of salvation to those who repent and believe in Jesus (Mark 1:15; John 3:16-17).

Interested in a resource that helps tell and explain the meaning of Jesus’ death on the cross?  Check out Why Easter? by Barbara Reaoch. Although written as a family devotional, portions could also be used by teachers in a classroom setting.

Written by Jill Nelson

Jill Nelson

Jill Nelson is a wife, mother, grandmother, teacher and author. She has taught Sunday School for over 20 years and writes God-centered curriculum for Children Desiring God.

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