Telling the Easter Story of the Cross to Young Children

Last week my two young granddaughters were in the backseat of my car watching a children’s Easter video. They wanted to know why Jesus was hurt at the cross—no gory details, just a twist in their fairytale Easter story. I thought, “How can I tell them the Easter story and leave out the sacrifice of Jesus at the cross?” I can’t. So what in the world do I say?

Then I remembered an analogy I heard about how to begin the process of teaching children about God’s purpose in allowing Jesus to go the cross. It revolved around the use of jelly beans with the story and then the fun of hunting chocolate-filled eggs. Though it is theologically NOT complete by any measure, at least it’s a start. The idea is simply to introduce these three seed words: sin, cross, and heaven.

So I think I’ll try this conversation with my precious little four-year-old granddaughter.

Honey, Easter is a celebration about Jesus. We love Jesus and He loves us. Remember the song “Jesus loves the little children”? Let’s sing it right now. (Then I’ll continue.) 

Do you want Grammy to tell you a story? Let me tell you one about Jesus. (Then I’ll give her a basket with green grass while I hold different colored jelly beans in my hand.) Here’s a speckled jelly bean to put in your basket. See those speckles? It means that we sometimes say mean things and disobey God and our parents. We call that sin. It stains us.

But God gave us Jesus to take away the sin. It was sad, but Jesus bled and died on a cross to take away our sin. Here’s a red jelly bean. It’s a reminder of Jesus’ blood for us. But guess what? Because of the cross, we are now forgiven for our speckles. Oh, thank you, Jesus! Here’s a white jelly bean because we are now clean.

Then God miraculously brought Jesus back to life after He died and took Him to heaven. Heaven is a beautiful place. Let’s put your favorite color of jelly bean in the basket and let it mean heaven. (She’ll pick purple, for sure.) Hooray! Here’s a purple jelly bean for heaven. And see the green grass. Doesn’t green make you happy? Here’s a green jelly bean because Jesus makes us smile.

Now do you want to play a game? Good! Let’s hide Easter eggs and thank Jesus for the cross and loving us.

We can plant the Easter seed in our little ones, and God will water it in time.

About Pam Kanaly   

Aloha! I’m Pam Kanaly, President and co-founder of Arise Ministries. But actually, I think Arise found me wanting to bless single moms years ago. Ministry was never on my mind as a kid. All I wanted to be was a hula dancer. So Mother enrolled me in the tiny tots’ class. Guess God knew I’d have two grandbabies born in Hawaii. I love the great outdoors. You might even find me spending time with my husband grizzly bear watching or camping. In fact, it was on a turkey hunt that God gave me the name Arise Ministries in 2002. I suppose it’s a good thing that I majored in Grammar in college since I love to write words of encouragement to single moms.