“Mommy, does our family believe in the Easter Bunny?”
Many Christians wrestle with the commercialization of Easter. Parents ask, “Is it possible for our kids to enjoy candy and Easter egg hunts and still cherish Jesus more?” Christian moms and dads may understand their responsibility to tell their kids about God’s great rescue (Ps. 78:4–7). But we wonder how we can help our children to desire Jesus as their greatest treasure.
I (Jared) actually think it’s a blessing that our culture still takes time to celebrate Easter—even if many miss the point. The days before Easter provide us an opportunity for us to be intentional with our kids and bold with our unbelieving neighbors. It’s a time to invite the neighbors over to hunt eggs in the backyard and share a chocolate bunny. Most importantly it’s a time to share the story and the joy of the resurrection. Here are five ideas for how:
1. Read the resurrection story.
Most preschoolers delight in following the plot of a good story, and parents who tell their toddlers and young kids the basic truths of the gospel—God’s love, our sin, and Jesus’s rescue—lay a foundation for their children’s faith.
Is it possible for our kids to enjoy candy and Easter egg hunts and still cherish Jesus more?
Use an illustrated board book to keep your toddlers and preschoolers engaged, and as they grow, they’ll recognize biblical concepts they’ve learned. If you have a 4- or 5-year-old, don’t underestimate their readiness to begin reading the Easter story from a more detailed Bible storybook or a child-friendly Bible.
Tune in to your child’s attention span. Consistently reading even two to four verses forms a life-giving habit of Bible reading. By God’s grace, our kids will spend their lives learning to trust the God to whom this story points.
2. Rejoice in the resurrection story.
As your children get older, find creative ways to rehearse and enjoy the good news of the resurrection with your kids again and again. One of my (Jared’s) earliest memories of Easter was waking up to my Dad’s greeting, “He is risen!” I learned from a very young age what to echo back: “He is risen indeed!” I saw the joy of this truth in my father’s eyes.
Consider inviting younger elementary-age kids to stage the resurrection story during times of family worship. Peter and John’s race to the tomb in John 20 is fun to act out!
Our children hope for many things that may or may not happen. When parents model the joy of hoping in God, we show our kids what is certain—the truth of God’s promises. Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin and open the way for us to be God’s children. He rose to life, winning victory for us over sin and death forever (1 Cor. 15:20–23). Let’s live out the joy of these gospel truths and give our kids a compelling vision of faith in Christ.
3. Journal the resurrection story.
Children cannot see Jesus with their eyes, but we can help them see Jesus in God’s Word. One proven method that can help is journaling. More than a dear-diary discipline, journaling helps kids to concentrate. God made our brains so that the act of writing or drawing out our thoughts helps us to think and remember. Nothing has a greater influence on a child’s life than God’s Word. When we write down what’s true about God, the Holy Spirit supersizes its effects in our hearts!
Here’s a quick prompt to start. After reading a Bible passage, prompt your kids to reflect on what Jesus’s actions in the story teach us about who he is. As your children journal their responses, you’re fixing their attention on Christ’s character. The Holy Spirit can use this to help them understand and remember Jesus’s love.
4. Talk through the resurrection story.
As Easter approaches, set aside times to talk with your kids about Jesus’s road to the cross. With the help of a family devotional, you can use this time to ask and discuss hard questions about the reasons Jesus came to die.
If you do this, get ready! Your kids may hit you back with harder questions: “If Jesus did nothing wrong, why did people accuse him? Why did they call Jesus names and beat him?” Kids’ questions provide opportunities for you to learn about how your child’s heart is responding to biblical truth and to share how Jesus bore the guilt and shame we deserve and feel. Help your kids understand that Jesus not only came to die for the bad things we do, but he also wants to overcome sinful desires in our hearts and promises to one day remove the consequences of sin.
5. Pray for resurrected hearts.
A parent rarely needs to help their kids enjoy candy or Easter egg hunts. But to help your kids discover soul-satisfying joy in Jesus requires earnest prayer and deliberate effort. As parents and grandparents, we can ask God for perseverance in our discipleship task, and we can plead for the Holy Spirit’s help. Recently a friend asked me (Barb) if family devotions are worth the struggle. The short answer is, “Yes!” As we share the nutritious food of God’s Word, we pray and believe that God grants faith to children who hear his good news (Rom. 10:17).
As Easter arrives, moms and dads are picking out those outfits for Sunday, filling the plastic eggs, and making sure baskets are ready. Whether or not your family talks about the Bunny, remember God is looking for a generation that takes delight in him (Ps. 34:8; 37:4). Set aside time to share, rejoice, journal, discuss, and pray in light of the resurrection story. As you do, our prayer is that God will help your children and grandchildren cherish Christ this Easter.