So how do you explain Good Friday and Easter Sunday to a four-year-old child? The story of the crucifixion and resurrection is difficult for adults to comprehend, let alone young children. Well, the key to explaining anything to young children is to use language that they can understand, and to tell them only what their tender hearts and minds can handle.
Our secular society has turned Easter into a day of painted eggs, colorful jelly beans, and chocolate bunnies. After all, isn’t that much more fun? To be honest, I have no clue how the Easter bunny ever hopped his way into this sacred celebration. I find it quite disturbing that Easter egg hunts have become the focus of this holiday rather than remembering the ultimate sacrifice of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I have nothing against letting children paint a few eggs and eat a few jelly beans, but they also need to know the real meaning of Easter.
In my boardbook An Easter Gift for Me (Zonderkidz), the story begins by telling how Jesus came to earth, and how he told people that He was God’s Son, and that by believing in him they could go to heaven someday. I did not go into detail about how the people hated Jesus, spit on him, and beat him. There are no whips or thorns or bloody pictures–just this simple statement: But some of the people did not understand the way Jesus fit into God’s special plan. He hung on a cross and that’s where he died. The people who loved him just stood there and cried.
In the background of this colorful two-page spread are three empty crosses. An author doesn’t get much input into illustrations, but for this story I requested that the crosses be empty so that little ones did not have a disturbing visual of bodies hanging on crosses. The illustrator did a beautiful job of portraying this scene in an honest, but kid-friendly way.
My favorite line in the whole book is on the top of the next page: But Jesus is God so he didn’t stay dead! “He’s alive! He’s alive!” The glad angel said. Isn’t that the plain and simple truth? Jesus is God, so he didn’t stay dead. Little ones can get that and so can we!
The ending wraps it all up—This story’s amazing and all of it’s true. He died on the cross for me and for you. If you love Jesus, believe and obey, then you can see Jesus in heaven someday.
And that’s what Easter is all about.