The joy of Jesus’ resurrection is possible only because of the sadness of His death.

My own kids are teenagers, and I often wonder if my husband and I have tried too hard to make life comfortable for them. We’re wired as parents to insulate our kids from danger and pain. It’s built into our DNA, an inherent and necessary part of the job description.

Those of us with kids know the routine … we find out a baby is on the way and run home to safeguard electrical outlets and medicine cabinets. But throughout their childhoods, we realize we must peel back the insulation, bit by bit, to help them become healthy, balanced human beings.

Those of us in the west live in a culture that is averse to pain, which is often reflected in the way we parent and lead kids. We don’t know what to do with our pain, so we do our best to avoid it, through entertainment, burying ourselves in busyness, rushing to what’s next without processing what was. But the Bible paints a starkly different picture for us as believers.

Rather than promising an escape from pain, Jesus tells us that suffering is a guarantee. He teaches that to experience life in Him, we must first pick up our cross.

The Bible paints a starkly different picture for us as believers. Rather than promising an escape from pain, Jesus tells us that suffering is a guarantee.

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Following Jesus

When Jesus explained to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem to suffer, be killed, and on the third day rise again, Peter scolded Him, saying, “Never, Lord! … This will never happen to you!” (Matthew 16:22, NIrV).

Jesus responded to Peter’s scolding with these words: “Get behind me, Satan! You are standing in my way. You do not have in mind the things God cares about. Instead, you only have in mind the things humans care about” (Matthew 16:23, NIrV).

Peter wanted a Savior without the suffering. I am like Peter.

But Jesus had something altogether different in mind. “Whoever wants to be my disciple,” Jesus says, “must say no to themselves. They must pick up their cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24, NIrV).

When we’ve walked with Jesus for a while, when we’ve limped through dark seasons of loss and doubt and disappointment with cross in hand, we begin to learn something important: the darkest nights give birth to the most beautiful dawns.

The Most Beautiful Dawn

On Easter Sunday, we celebrate the most beautiful dawn in history, a dawn that would not exist if it weren’t for Good Friday. As Holy Week approaches, let’s see Good Friday as an opportunity to peel back the insulation we’ve carefully crafted around the kids in our homes and ministries.

Let’s see it as an opportunity for them to glimpse the pain Jesus experienced for our sake so they can celebrate with new and deeper understanding the miracle of Christ’s resurrection.

How do we invite kids into Christ’s suffering in ways that are age and developmentally appropriate? We can begin by recognizing Good Friday. Whether on the actual day or at another time preceding Easter Sunday, set aside intentional time to remember Christ’s death with the kids in your care.

Here are some ideas:

Start Simple

Start simple by teaching kids and families a breath prayer to pray as a way to focus on Jesus and the sacrifice He made for us on Good Friday. A breath prayer is a word or phrase to repeat in a single breath with one part on the inhale and the other part on the exhale.

Here are two examples:

  • Inhale: Jesus … Exhale: thank You for dying for me.

  • Inhale: Jesus, because of Your death … Exhale: I have new life.

Set aside intentional time to remember Christ’s death with the kids in your care.

Explain ‘Good Friday’

Explain to kids why it’s called Good Friday. Because of His love for us, Jesus—God’s perfect Son—took the punishment for our sin and died on the cross. Because of what Jesus did on Good Friday, our sins can be forgiven, and we can be God’s kids forever.

Now that is a good day!

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Resurrection Eggs

For families with younger children, make resurrection eggs. Include a description of the items in the eggs and Scripture verses to read that align with each.

For 12 days leading up to Easter, families can open one egg together, discovering the object inside and reading part of the Holy Week story. Or use the resurrection eggs as a teaching tool in your ministry during the weeks preceding Easter Sunday, going through several eggs at a time.

Saving the final egg for Easter morning will allow kids to sit in the reality of the crucifixion before moving on to the resurrection.

Experience Communion Together

For families with older kids, invite them to experience communion together. Host a simple communion service on Good Friday, in person or on Facebook Live. If doing the service virtually or encouraging families to do it on their own at home, make simple communion kits that include the elements in a gift bag.

Include a paper invitation that gives the details for the online service or a simple script families can use on their own.

Prayer Walk

Set up a prayer walk in your ministry space. Include hands-on stations where families can pray together and remember what Jesus experienced during Holy Week.

Stations can include a Hosanna station where families read the Triumphal

Entry passage and speak praises to Jesus the King while holding palm branches and a Crucifixion station where families confess their sins while hammering a nail into a wooden cross.

Use Rise Up!

Invite families to Wonder Ink’s Rise Up Event. This bubble-themed event leads kids on a journey through Old and New Testament stories of death and resurrection. They will see that the joy of Jesus’ resurrection is possible only because of the sadness of His death.

Together, let’s commit to not glossing over the crucifixion with our kids. And let’s follow the Holy Spirit’s lead.

We will get to the resurrection, and it will be glorious, but let’s not rush to arrive there. In ways that are age and developmentally appropriate, let’s honor Good Friday. Let’s sit with our kids in the suffering of Jesus for it is only after sharing in His pain that we can share in His glory.

Wonder Ink’s 3-year, 52-week children’s ministry curriculum offers kids space to fully find their place in God’s Big Story. Children discover they are Known by God, Loved by Jesus, and Led by the Holy Spirit.