A Short But Complete Easter Story for Kids
- Annette Griffin Contributing Writer
- 2022 1 Apr
Our culture celebrates Easter with various fun and whimsical activities for children. While Christian parents and grandparents can certainly use bunnies, baskets, and egg hunts as creative ways to point our kids to Christ, it’s essential to teach them the true meaning of the holiday. When we retell the Easter Story for kids, we give them a treasure they’ll carry with them long after the jelly beans are devoured and the last egg is found. We give them the path to eternal life.
The Important Backdrop for the Easter Story
Note to caregivers: No Easter story would be complete apart from the Biblical context of who Jesus is, why God sent Him, and how we can accept His sacrifice unto salvation. Children raised in Christian homes have often already heard these foundational truths, but we shouldn’t assume they’ve fully grasped the message. We never know when the Holy Spirit may open their hearts and deepen their understanding. And what better time to share the Good News with our children than at Easter?
Don’t be afraid to introduce big spiritual concepts to little ears. Adults often wrestle with weighty theology that little ones accept by faith. Perhaps that’s why Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Luke 18:17). Depending on maturity level, a child may ask questions that require complex answers. The links embedded in this article’s highlighted words will provide additional insight about how to convey specific doctrinal truths to children.
Although the following Easter narratives are scripturally based and written in language children can easily comprehend, the stories shouldn’t be used in place of opening your Bible and reading directly from scripture. Nothing can take the place of God’s Word, which is the seed that produces life (1 Peter 1:23).
How Easter Came to Be: Foundational Truths to Bring the Easter Story to Life
Jesus is the greatest man who ever lived. While on earth, He was tempted to do bad things, just like you and me. But Jesus never once told a lie or was mean to a friend who was mean to Him. He never disrespected his mother, father, or teachers when they told Him to do something he didn’t want to do. He didn’t cheat, steal, or participate in any other sin—ever! He was totally perfect in every way.
Jesus is God’s only son and the same as God. Long ago, He left Heaven to come to earth for a very important reason—He loves us.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NIV)
When you love someone, you want to be near them all the time. But God is Holy, and humans are sinful. That was a huge problem. Sin keeps us from being close to God and loving him like we should. Sin is so terrible that it’s like a poison that destroys everything in our lives—including us. God knows how dangerous sin is. That’s why he can’t be near sin and why He says the punishment for sin is death.
God loved us too much to let sin destroy us and keep us apart from Him. So, He sent Jesus to earth to fix the problem and rescue us.
“God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:17, NLT)
While Jesus lived on earth, he healed the sick, performed miracles, and taught everyone he met about the dangers of sin. Jesus had close friends called disciples who loved Him and believed He was the son of God. But others hated him for telling the truth. They liked doing bad things and didn’t want to hear what Jesus had to say. They wished He would go away and leave them alone.
Little did they know, Jesus would go away. For God’s rescue plan to work, Jesus had to die to take the punishment for all our sins. But the good news is Jesus didn’t stay dead!
God raised Jesus back to life so that every single person who repents of their sins and believes in Him no longer has to be separated from God. When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, He comes to live inside our hearts and makes us a brand new person so that we can be near him forever. Nothing can ever separate us from God’s love again when we put our trust in Jesus. That’s why we celebrate Easter!
Photo Credit: © Getty Images/jchizhe
The Bible gives us the details about Jesus’s life, His death on the cross, and His resurrection. Here’s what happened that very first Easter:
The Easter Story for Very Young Children
Easter is a time to celebrate Jesus.
God sent Jesus to earth because He loves us. While He lived on earth, Jesus did many wonderful things. He made sick people well. He showed them how to be kind to each other and love one another. He taught God’s truth to everyone He met, and He forgave the bad things people did to Him and each other. But the best thing Jesus ever did was die on the cross to save us from our sins.
All His friends, called disciples, loved Jesus and believed He was God’s Son. But other people hated Jesus. They didn’t like to hear the truth He shared because they liked doing things their own way. They wanted to hurt Jesus and make Him go away.
After Jesus ate supper with His disciples one evening, He went into the garden to pray. The men who didn’t like Jesus sent soldiers into the garden to arrest Him. The soldiers hurt Jesus and sent Him to die on the cross.
After Jesus died, they placed Him in a dark cave called a tomb and rolled a heavy stone in front of the cave entrance. Jesus’s disciples were very sad that they could not see Jesus anymore.
On the third day after His death, some of His friends went to the tomb and were shocked to find that the stone was rolled away, and the dark cave was empty!
His friends were sacred and sad because they didn’t know what had happened to Jesus’s body. But then an angel appeared and told them that Jesus had risen from the dead! Their fear and sadness turned to excitement and joy. Jesus was alive! And He never died again. He is still alive today!
Photo Credit: GettyImages/salajean
The Easter Story for Bigger Kids
One night, after Jesus ate supper with His disciples, He took three of them into the garden to pray. Jesus wanted to talk to God because He knew that He must die on the cross soon. Jesus believed that if He prayed, God would help Him be strong and ready for the scary mission ahead. He was right! As He prayed, God sent an angel to strengthen and prepare His Son for what was to come.
Jesus’s friends got sleepy and didn’t pray with Him as they should have. They were not strong or ready when a group of soldiers suddenly marched into the garden. One of the disciples, named Judas, who was angry with Jesus, had led the soldiers there to arrest Him.
The religious leaders were excited that Judas had made a deal with them to capture Jesus. They were jealous of Jesus and had been looking for a way to stop His speeches and miracles. They paid Judas 30 pieces of silver for leading them to the garden.
Jesus’s disciples were terrified when they saw the soldiers. Some of them ran for their lives, and one disciple named Peter tried to fight the guards with a sword. But Jesus stopped Peter from fighting because He knew that the arrest was part of God’s plan. Peter had once claimed to be Jesus’s best friend, but when the soldiers came, and he couldn’t fight them, Peter changed his mind. In fact, Peter was so worried about being arrested that he lied to everyone and said he’d never even met Jesus before.
The soldiers took Jesus to the Roman governor named Pontius Pilate. After talking with Jesus, the governor wanted to set him free because he realized that no crime had been committed. But the evil religious leaders tricked the governor into believing that Jesus deserved to die on the cross. Soon hundreds of people in the crowd were screaming, “Crucify him,” which meant they wanted Jesus to die on the cross too.
Jesus left with the guards, who beat Him up, spit on Him, and made fun of Him. The soldiers made a crown out of sharp thorns and pressed it into Jesus’s head, then forced Him to drag His heavy cross all the way up a hill called Calvary.
They nailed Jesus’s hands and feet to the wooden cross and stood it up on the hill. Jesus had done nothing to deserve this painful punishment, and He could have called thousands of angels to come and save Him. But He didn’t. Jesus knew that His death was the only thing that could save us. This was God’s rescue plan for sinners like you and me, and Peter, and even the hateful guards who hurt Jesus.
After hours of suffering, Jesus said, “It is finished,” and died. At that moment, the earth shook, and the sun stopped shining. Jesus let the soldiers hurt and kill Him because He loves us.
They placed Jesus’s body in a big cave called a tomb and rolled a heavy stone in front of the cave entrance. Jesus’s disciples were very sad. They were also afraid that the same religious leaders who had hurt Jesus might try to hurt them too, so they hid together.
Three days after His death, several of Jesus’s followers who were women went to the tomb and were shocked to discover that the stone had been rolled away from the cave and it was empty. Not knowing what had happened to Jesus’s body, the women were scared and sad. But then an angel appeared before them and told them Jesus had risen from the dead!
Their fear and sadness turned to excitement and joy as they rushed to tell the disciples the good news. When they saw Jesus with their own eyes, they fell at His feet and worshipped Him. Their Lord was alive! And He never died again. He still lives today.
Links for Creative Ideas to Bring the Easter Story to Life
10 Ways to Bring Easter Alive for Your Children by Arlene Pellicane
Resurrection Rolls: A Family Easter Treat for Kids and Grownups by Annette Griffin
8 Ways to Engage and Prepare Your Children for Easter by Cara Meredith
How to Make Resurrection Eggs a Special Part of Your Easter by Amanda Idleman
Don’t Guide Your Child in a Salvation Decision without This by Child Evangelism Fellowship
4 Easter Dinner Prayers to Celebrate as a Family by Lori Freeland
Cover Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Monkey Business Images
Annette Marie Griffin is an award-winning author and speaker who has managed and directed children’s and youth programs for more than 20 years. Her debut children’s book, What Is A Family? released through Familius Publishing in 2020. Annette has also written curriculum for character growth and development of elementary-age children and has developed parent training seminars to benefit the community. Her passion is to help wanderers find home. She and her husband have five children—three who have already flown the coop and two adopted teens still roosting at home—plus two adorable grands who add immeasurable joy and laughter to the whole flock.
This article is part of our larger Holy Week and Easter resource library centered around the events leading up to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We hope these articles help you understand the meaning and story behind important Christian holidays and dates and encourage you as you take time to reflect on all that God has done for us through his son Jesus Christ!
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