Why Did Jesus Die? Helping Kids Understand the Gospel
BY Bret Eckelberry
Your kids may ask the question, “Why did Jesus die?” It’s an important question and a wonderful opportunity for you as a parent to help your child understand the importance of Jesus’ resurrection story.
The Background on Why Jesus Died
First, make sure your child understands the worldly reasons why Jesus was arrested, beaten, and crucified. Jesus claimed he was God, and that scared people. And although Jesus proved he was God repeatedly, some still refused to believe it. As a result, some powerful Jewish leaders started plotting ways to kill Jesus. Eventually, Jesus was arrested and brought to the Roman leader, Pilate. Because Pilate didn’t want to anger the Jewish leaders or the mob they had instigated, he gave in to their demands and had Jesus crucified — a criminal’s death — even though Jesus was innocent of any crime.
Jesus Came to S.A.V.E. Us
Now you can get to the spiritual reason of why Jesus died for us. To help your child remember the answer to their question “Why did Jesus die,” here is a handy acronym that explains it — S.A.V.E.
S – Sin Separated Us From God
The Bible tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23, ESV). Every person has done things that are wrong. Lying, cheating, being unkind to others — the list goes on and on. We’ve hurt ourselves, others, and God with our sin. Because we sin, we are separated from God, who is perfect. God didn’t want us to be apart from Him, but our bad choices and sinful nature caused that to happen.
And here’s the really bad news: God’s Word tells us that the penalty for our sin is death (Romans 6:23, ESV). But don’t despair! There is hope because…
A – A Way to God Was Made
Share with your child that, despite our sin, God had a master plan to bring us back to Him. Since the wages of sin is death, a sacrifice had to be made to make things right. The problem was, there was nothing we could do to fix things between God and us. Fortunately, God knew exactly what to do to solve that problem. That’s why Jesus came to Earth. He lived a perfect, sinless life so He could be the sacrifice that brings us back to God.
Isaiah 53:5 says that by Jesus’ wounds we are healed. His sacrifice allows us to be saved because He paid the price that our sin deserved. That was why Jesus died — to save us from our sin. And because of His sacrifice, we have…
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V – Victory Through Jesus
Remind your child that Jesus’ death isn’t the end of the story. He rose from the dead because he is God and God is more powerful than death! This is the culmination of the Easter story — Christ’s resurrection. Although all have sinned, all can be redeemed and brought back to God because of Jesus’ death and resurrection! In John 16:33, Jesus tells us to take heart because he has overcome the world and all the bad that comes with it.
Jesus won the battle against sin and death, and He wants us to share in that victory with Him. He invites us to join Him on the winning team — all we have to do is say yes and give our life to Him! And when we do that, we will have…
E – Eternal Life for Those Who Believe
Talk about John 3:16 with your child: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” God loved us so much that he sent Jesus to die for our sins. This was God’s master plan, and it worked flawlessly! When we accept Jesus as Lord and give our hearts to Him, we are saved. That means we will spend the rest of forever with God, which is what He wanted all along!
And that’s why Jesus died. That’s the reason behind Jesus’ resurrection story. He died because he loved us and wanted to save us. And He rose again because there is nothing in existence more powerful than Him. And, if we believe in Jesus, that is the God we will spend eternity with!
“Why Did Jesus Die” Activity for Your Kids
If your child loves learning visually and/or kinetically, it can be beneficial to do an activity with them to help them visualize the problem of sin and God’s cleansing power through Jesus’ death and resurrection story.
Find a clear glass or bottle and fill it with water. Explain to your child that this water is a stand-in for their soul and how it should be. Ask them if they would drink this clean, clear water (they will probably say yes).
Then, take them out into the yard or a nearby park and have them find a patch of dirt or sand. Pour the dirt into the bottle of water and shake it up. The water will become dirty and cloudy. Tell them that, because we all sin, this is what our soul is like before Jesus. Ask them if they would drink the dirty water (hopefully they will say no!).
Finally, take them back inside. Share with them that, without Jesus, our souls would forever be dirty, like the water in the bottle. But, because Jesus died for our sins, that’s not the case! If we believe in Jesus and accept Him as our Lord, He washes us clean.
Go ahead and wash out the bottle and replace the dirty water with clean, clear water once again. Tell them that because Jesus is so powerful and loves us so much, there is no amount of dirt (or sin) that He can’t or won’t wash away from us if we ask Him for forgiveness!
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