How to explain the resurrection to a child

how to explain the resurrection to a child

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INSIDE: how to explain the resurrection to a child, and a free printable conversation guide!

Resurrection Sunday happened shortly after my kidney surgery. I went to church to see my kids in the choir, but this year I observed much more than I participated, unlike most years when I’m scurrying to run programs for kids.

Here’s what I saw:

  • Incredible joy permeated the room.
  • In a church that normally needs serious incentive to clap, there was spontaneous clapping, hand-raising, and even a bit of whooping.

Have you ever felt like whooping and clapping and praising when confronted with the truth of the resurrection?

Why does Jesus’ resurrection make us feel this way?

I’m not sure most of those in the room could really put a finger on the reason they felt such joy, but they were feeling it most profoundly. 

But in order to bring that joy into our daily family life, we need to poke a little deeper.

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How does Jesus’ resurrection affect our lives TODAY?

We make much ado about Jesus’ death.

After all, in 1 Corinthians 15:3 we read that “Christ died for our sins”, or in Romans 5:8, “God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” or that “but he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.” (Isaiah 53:5) (NLT)

There’s a lot of focus in Scripture on Jesus’ death, and it’s easy to miss the critical importance of his resurrection.

Not only that, but how often do we teach the importance of the resurrection to our kids? 

Sure, we tell them the story. “Jesus died for our sins and came back to life.”

But do we tell them the meaning behind the story?

When Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life” in John 11:25, what does that mean? And why does it matter? Clearly, Paul thinks the resurrection is important:

“And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins.”

1 Corinthians 15:17 NLT

He says our faith is USELESS without the resurrection. That’s a rather strong word! So let’s talk about the resurrection, because we certainly don’t want our children to have useless faith and live in guilt! 

How to explain the resurrection to a child:

Why does the resurrection matter?

1) To show that our sin is forgiven.

In the Old Testament, the Jewish people had a sacrificial system. That means that when they sinned, they killed an animal as a way to say “I’m so sorry, God.”

But in Hebrews 10:4 we learn that “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” Death (particularly of animals) wasn’t enough.

Jesus died, but it was his resurrection that proves that Jesus was the perfect sacrifice, and that his sacrifice was accepted. Our sin is forgiven, in Christ. 

SO WHAT? Why does this matter to a child? 

Our children sin. Yup. We may feel like that word is a little harsh, but the truth is, we’ve all sinned and fallen short of God’s perfection (Romans 3:23). Chances are, your child has disobeyed, or lied, or hurt someone else on purpose. That’s sin. (Watch a kid-friendly video that explains sin here.)

At a certain age they start to realize this, and usually will feel bad about it. At that point, you can tell them that their sin is forgiven because Jesus died as a sacrifice in his/her place, and God proved that he accepted the sacrifice through Jesus’ resurrection

TELL YOUR CHILD: Jesus’ resurrection proves that we are forgiven.

2) To release the grip of sin

After doing something wrong, one of my boys often cries out, “I don’t know why I did that! It was like a monster inside me!” I have felt this too, like when I get frustrated with my children and rip into them with angry words, all the while thinking “why am I saying this?”

According to the Bible, we used to be slaves to sin. Frankly, I think that many Christians still live as slaves to sin.

But because of the resurrection, we don’t have to live this way! 

Jesus shows us that he is the winner over sin and death. He brought it into the tomb, stomped on it, and left it there.

And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.

Romans 6:8-11, NLT

TELL YOUR CHILD: Jesus’ resurrection shows that we are dead to sin! We do not need to let it have its way with us.

Through the power of Christ living in them, our children can choose obedience and life. 

how to explain the resurrection to a child

3) To free us from the fear of death

After Easter, my youngest said to me, “Mommy, please don’t die on a cross.” I had a little chuckle, but it reminded me that this was the first time he had ever thought about death. Our life here on earth is not permanent. 

In fact, the basic storyline of every human life is the same: we are born, we live a bit, and we die by some means or another. 

But because of Jesus’ resurrection, our children do not need to fear their own death, or our death. Why? Because death is not the end. Just like Jesus, we will be resurrected.

My sister was killed in a car accident when she was 18, and the moment I saw her body in the casket was the moment I felt the greatest hope. It was so obvious that what was left was just her shell, and I had incredible peace that one day, I would see her again. Death is not the end.

This is stated so beautifully by the author of Hebrews:

“Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.”

(Hebrews 2:14-15, NLT

TELL YOUR CHILD: His resurrection proves that death is not the end of life. Like a living witness to the truth, he resurrected first, to show us what we can expect. And friend, we can expect a WHOLE lot. 

But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.

Philippians 3:20,21 NLT

4) To show us our future

There is one more thing that Jesus promised he would do for us. 

Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.

John 14:1-4 NLT

Jesus’ resurrection created the way for him to go and create our future home. Someday, you and me and our kids will live with him in eternity. Now that’s what I call an incredible promise!

But in the meantime, Jesus’ resurrection proves that we are forgiven, releases us from the grip of sin, and frees us from the fear of death. Those are promises our kids need to hear. 

In fact, you can teach it to them in a short identity statement:

I am loved,
I am forgiven,
I am dead to sin,
I am free from the fear of death, 

And I am alive to God in Christ Jesus.

If you’d like help explaining this to your child, I have created a family discussion guide that provides questions and pertinent verses on how to explain the resurrection to a child. Click here to get the discussion guide and a child’s version of the identity statement!

how to explain the resurrection to a child

And before you go, remember this one truth:

Every day is resurrection day, because Jesus lives in us every day. 

Other posts on Easter and Lent:

Why does the resurrection matter?

Simple ways to celebrate Easter as a family

40 Lent ideas for kids