Helping children understand the crucifixion can be a difficult thing – many parents wonder how to talk to their kids about Good Friday. How do we explain to our children how another person’s death translates into eternal life for them? Last year, I came up with a family activity idea to help my children really understand the meaning of the cross. It turned out to be a very powerful experience – for everyone. This activity would make a great Good Friday family devotional or even a Sunday School lesson (here’s a free printable to use during the activity).
What you will need:
• Several sheets of black construction paper • White crayons or colored pencils • Scissors • Masking tape • A large fleece jacket or robe • A Bible
What to do:
Step 1: Read the crucifixion story from John 19. (If you have highly sensitive children, children with a trauma history or very young children, consider an account of the crucifixion story from a young children’s picture Bible.) Then read 1 Peter 2:24 and 1 John 2:2. After you read the passages, ask your children the following questions:
- Why did men put Jesus to death on the cross? (He claimed to be God)
- Why did God let Jesus die on the cross? (To put a final end to sin and death)
- What is sin? (Anything contrary to the will of God)
- Are some sins “bigger” than others? (No)
- How serious is sin to God? (Very serious. It requires death to be ‘paid for’.)
- Is it possible for us to not sin? (No)
- Can a perfect God fill His heaven with imperfect, sinful people? (No) Why or why not? (Because light and darkness can never exist together. Light always extinguishes darkness. God is light. Sin is darkness.)
- What are some of your sins?
This last question will bring you to your next step in this family activity.
Step 2: Take the pieces of black construction paper and cut irregular, jagged pieces about the size of an index card. Have each family member prayerfully ask God to bring to mind any sins they may have committed and write them with a white crayon or pencil on the black paper. If you have any pre-writers, work on this part of the activity together. If you find that some of your children are reluctant to write down any of their sins, read James 5:16. Explain that confession of sin is the first step toward forgiveness. Everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Everyone, that is, but Jesus.
Step 3: Next, decide which parent will wear the fleece jacket or robe and stand with arms outstretched. Explain to your children that when Jesus died, He took every one of our sins onto Himself and was punished for them so that we never have to be. Then have each child take a piece of tape, roll it up and stick it to the back of their “sin cards.” Instruct your children to place the cards on the robe, one at a time. As your children place each one, say to them: “Jesus took that sin.” “Jesus paid for that one too.”
Step 4: When all the sins have been attached, take off the jacket, turn it inside out. Then take a moment to reflect on what Christ has done. You can ask your children these questions:
- Why does Jesus take our sins from us? (He loves us)
- How do we give our sins to Jesus? (We confess them and ask Him for forgiveness)
- What does He do with our sins? (He takes them away forever – as far as the east is from the west. They have already been paid for.)
- Will Jesus take sins we are not ready to confess? (No)
- Is there any sin too big for Him to handle? (No)
- How do you feel about what Jesus has done for you?
The love that Jesus showed for us on the cross makes no sense. We sin. He gets punished. He suffers. We get saved. That is some crazy kind of love. Let’s do all we can this Easter season and help our children “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (Ephesians 3:18). [Don’t forget your free printable for this activity!]
Photo credti: inkogutto from morguefile.com