So it is easy to focus on the gift of the Messiah. It's sweet and lovely and precious.
It's a baby. Everyone loves babies.
But over the last few years, we have slowly begun to transition Easter from a bunny-filled egg hunt to a celebration of something that feels dark and heavy and difficult to explain to kids.
Because it totally matters.
Last year, we did this, and my kids really loved the "tasty Jesus," but this year I decided I wanted to focus more on why we needed Easter.
We started by reading Romans 3:23.
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
I showed them a dry erase board, and we talked about how even though it was pretty and white and clean, our hearts don't look like that on their own. We have sin.
Together, we made a list of some of the sins we know we fight: disobedience, anger, hatred, unkindness, anxiety...so many sins. I used a black Sharpie to write our list on the dry erase board, darkening the clean white surface.
I gave them each a napkin and told them to get rid of what we had written. They tried and tried, but no matter how hard they rubbed, they could not remove the stain of their sins.
So we talked about all the things we could do to try and fix our hearts, and I used a purple Sharpie to write over the sins. We could go to church...and more church...and even more church. We could read our Bibles. We can even homeschool. Again, they tried to use that to wipe away the sins. Still, the iniquities remained.
I read Isaiah 64:6.
"...all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment..."
So we discussed all the righteous deeds we could do- all the things the world will tell us will make all of our sins okay. I used a blue Sharpie to cover what we had written. We can give away all of our things. We can simply accept everything and everyone. We can be kind. We can be nice.
We looked at our board and talked about how those sins we wrote were much harder to see now. Attending church regularly and being nice can make it harder for others to see those sins.
But try as they might, even these good deeds simply could not remove our sins. All their attempts to erase the words we wrote were futile.
We read Romans 5:8.
"But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
This is the gospel. This is the purpose of Easter- as dark and sad and scary as it might seem, it is the best news. God didn't wait for us to fix our own hearts because He knew we never could. He sent us Jesus, who would die a horrible, painful death so that we didn't have to.
I used a red dry erase marker and boldly wrote "Jesus" over the top of everything we had already written, and I told the kids to see what Jesus did to our sins.
And as they wiped away the red, they saw a clean board beneath- because Jesus makes us clean in a way we never can do for ourselves.
As we celebrate Easter this weekend, I pray their hearts are cleaned and changed.
And I pray they can see the good in Good Friday.