If you have walked through store aisles lately, you've seen many reminders that Easter is coming. What isn't so obvious is that, for Christians, Easter is truly the most significant day of the year.
At the store we find:
- baskets and eggs as the symbols of Easter, instead of a cross and an empty tomb
- a bunny that brings candy instead of a Savior who brings life
Is it any wonder that our children are more excited about the coming of the Easter Bunny than about the coming of God's kingdom? We spend many days on egg-coloring and baskets but focus on Jesus Christ's death and resurrection for only one hour on Sunday morning.
Many parents, however, are looking for ways to make the true significance of Easter a reality to their children. Well, here's the good news!
Bunnies, eggs, baskets and more can become tools that parents use to bring a greater understanding of the message of Easter. With just a little creativity, all these symbols that often replace the real significance of Easter can be the very things that make the holiday full and rich with spiritual meaning.
Tell the Story of Easter with Eggs
Instead of merely coloring eggs this Easter, why not use the eggs to tell the story of God's love and forgiveness?
- Before you hide the eggs or put them in baskets, encircle each one with a colored strip of paper (or place the strip inside plastic eggs) that tells one small part of the Easter story. When the eggs have been found, the children must unscramble the story and put it in the right order.
- Instead of decorating the eggs with dye, or in addition to dying them, write one attribute of Jesus on each egg. You can do this by writing on the egg with a crayon before you put it in the dye. If you are using plastic eggs, you can write with a permanent marker or paint pen.
- Send kids on a hunt for the eggs that have Jesus' attributes written on them. Instead of just discovering eggs, they will be discovering the wonderful things that make Jesus so special. If the eggs are plastic, fill them with treats to remember how sweet the life of Jesus really is.
- Dye eggs in certain colors and use them to tell the story of salvation.
Teach them about Jesus by talking about what a real Easter Bunny is
Use a rabbit picture, a stuffed bunny or even a real one (if you are adventurous) to teach some of the characteristics of Jesus that we should all try to have. By adding a Bible verse to each quality, you will create a true Easter Bunny.
Real Easter bunnies:
- are white as snow because Jesus takes all sin away (Isaiah 1:18b).
- are gentle, kind-hearted and forgiving (Ephesians 4:32).
- have big ears that are quick to listen (James 1:19).
- have big eyes to look carefully and choose what is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
- have no voice for complaining or arguing (Philippians 2:13).
- are quiet in prayer, but hop with thanksgiving and rejoicing (Philippians 4:4-6).
- have big feet to go tell others about Jesus so they can be like Easter bunnies, too (Matthew 28: 19-20).
- eat what is healthy by filling up on God's word every day (Psalm 119:11).
The Easter Story: Defining the Terms
We sometimes forget that our children don't understand everything that is being said and done around them. Often we take for granted that they understand things we have not explained.
The Easter story, while beautiful, can be very confusing to children when we don't take time to simplify the story in a way they can understand. An explanation of some big words can help. For very young children, omitting the harder words all together may reduce confusion.
Explain to your kids what these terms mean:
- Disciples — Jesus' closest friends
- Pharisees and religious leaders — the people who were not teaching the truth about God
- Arrested — Guards took Jesus and would not let him go.
- Sanhedrin or Court — Leaders all got together and decided that Jesus should be punished for telling the people that He was God's Son.
- Righteous — Jesus told only the truth and did everything God wanted Him to do.
- Condemned to death — Rulers announced that Jesus would have to die.
- Crucified — They nailed His hands and feet onto a big wooden cross and left Him hanging on it until He died.
- Tomb — a special place, like a small cave, where Jesus' body was laid after He died
- Resurrection — Even though Jesus had been dead for three days, God made Him come back alive so His friends would know that Jesus really is God's Son.
- Ascension — After Jesus came back to life and spent time with His friends, He was lifted up from the ground and floated above the clouds so He could finally go to be with God in heaven.
- Second Coming — When He left to go back to heaven, the angels promised Jesus' friends that He would be coming back one day to get all His friends.