My husband teaches 7th grade boys’ Sunday School class at our church. Just a couple weeks ago, he and I were talking about how its’ hard sometimes for children to understand the context of the Bible (as it is for adults too) since it was written so long ago. In fact, the Old Testament began to be written around 1500 B.C. and the New Testament around A.D. 70. So that means that the writings are 3500-2000 years old!
That being said, the culture back then compared to now is obviously quite different. Shepherds aren’t a common profession here in the United States, donkeys aren’t a normal form of transportation, most of us here in the U.S. don’t have to fish every day for our daily supply of food, and most of us don’t have to go to a well to gather water. There are so many more cultural differences from Bible times compared to now. These are just a few.
This explains why it may be difficult for adults and kids alike to understand the context of the Bible in a lot of cases. This is why I suggest trying to explain certain things as how they would look from a modern-day perspective when trying to teach our children (and adults as well).
I was thinking about Easter, and how it would be if it were to happen here in modern-day U.S., and I thought it might go a little something like this:
- There is a man, born into poverty, who has worked a minimum wage job most of his adult life.
- Your country at the time has very harsh living conditions. People are being executed for many crimes, and there isn’t very much forgiveness and caring in the world, especially to those who are sick with infectious diseases or who have done shameful things.
- He starts to develop a following of people – in person, on Facebook, Instagram, everywhere. People are giving up their jobs and leaving their families and homes to follow this man.
- You start to follow him in your spare time, too, to see what is going on, and why all these people are following him. You keep up with him on Facebook as well – in fact, you can’t stop looking at his page to see what is going on with this man!
- You realize he is one of the nicest, caring people you have ever met. He is showing compassion to everyone – even those who no one shows compassion to. This is astonishing to you.
- He doesn’t hang out with the “popular crowd”. He hangs out with the “outcasts”. He loves everyone equally.
- Then some really out-of-this-world things start to happen: Jesus turns water into wine at a wedding party! Then, he starts healing the sick, just by the touch of his hand! “Wow! This man must be special!” You think, and you want to find out more about him. So you continue following him.
- Then there’s the miracle of feeding 5000. Let’s put this in modern-day context. You have gotten to know this man, who goes by the name of Jesus, pretty well. In the town you live in, food is hard to come by. You go through the McDonalds drive-thru and buy a cheeseburger and fries. As you are sitting and talking with Jesus, thousands come up to him wanting him to heal them and their family. They also complain of having no food. Jesus turns that meal you bought from McDonalds into enough food to feed 5000!
- Jesus continues healing people, and then calms a storm while you are out on a boat with him.
- There is a man who is acting very evil and crazy, and you realize he is possessed by demons. Jesus simply tells the demons to leave the man and the man is no longer possessed.
- He takes you out on a boat with him and proceeds to walk on water!
- By this point, Facebook is blowing up with mentions of Jesus’ miracles. He has gone viral. He is on every news station. Lot’s of people, however are very skeptical. Hollywood is especially skeptical. They want nothing to do with this man.
- A woman is mourning over the death of her son. Jesus raises him from the dead! Wow, this man must be sent from God. There is no way anyone on earth could do what he has done. He is truly something special. You are sold. You are now a follower of Jesus. Let’s see what else happens:
- This man, Jesus, comes along and says you have to do all of this no more, that God’s old law no longer applies, and that he is God’s son. Whoa! God’s son? But this man is poor, he is serving others, not having people serve him! He hasn’t defeated the mean soldiers that are making life so tough. But maybe, just maybe, your assumption of who the Savior would be was wrong – very wrong.
- Jesus claims that he is God’s son, and is now under wrath for it. The police chief of your city is telling him what he is saying is against the law, and he is now going to court for it to stand trial. His trial is shown live on every news station in the country.
- He is then found guilty for blasphemy (claiming he is God). What some refuse to believe at the time (and some do believe but don’t want to admit it due to becoming unpopular) is that he IS the son of God – he IS God. His punishment is severe – severe as it gets: execution. But not just lethal injection. They have decided to crucify him on the cross – the most horrendous, excruciating way to die.
- He is crucified. It’s the worst, most horrible thing you’ve ever witnessed. You are heartbroken. Something happens when he takes his last breath: an earthquake shook the earth, and darkness set in. It’s as if God himself were mourning.
- Jesus said he would be back, but how? He’s dead. You have lost who you thought was the son of God, who was God himself. You are so confused, but you still have hope. The news of the crucifixion is all over the news, all over the internet.
- So you wait, for three excruciating days. Not knowing what to do, what to think, how to feel. Jesus’ friends are at your house with you, mourning, confused, broken-hearted, but still hopeful that Jesus is going to come back – somehow. People are calling you, texting you, knocking on your door nonstop wanting to know what’s going on. Saying that Jesus must’ve been a fraud. After all, this man who claimed to be God did not save himself while being crucified.
- Then, Sunday rolls around. Two ladies (Jesus’ friends) call you. They are screaming so loudly when you pick up, “He is alive! He has risen!” “What?” you say. “I’m not sure I heard you correctly!”. Then, you receive a knock on the door – and shockingly, you realize it’s Jesus! He is alive! But wait, is it him, or is it his ghost? So he comes in, sits down, has fish with you. You touch him. He is definitely alive. He shows you the scars on his hands from where the nails went in. He IS God’s son!
- Word has already spread on social media, and through your town. But some choose not to believe it. Some claim that someone came and stole his body. But how can that be? He’s here with you.
- For the next 40 days, he shares the Good News. Before ascending into Heaven, he tells you and your friends who have followed him to go spread the Good News, and that he has sent His spirit to indwell within you and help you all do just that.
- You are eager and excited to spend the rest of your days sharing this wonderful news, and excited to meet Jesus again in Heaven someday!
This is just an example of how you can use modernisms to teach your children the story of Easter. What modernisms would you use to help children better understand? Comment below!
Happy Easter! He has risen! He has risen, indeed!