Isaiah 52:13-53:12 • So ... Jesus grew like a young plant - like a root out of dry land. Plants need water. Most plants do.
He wasn't handsome or cute. People despised him. People rejected Him. He was familiar with suffering & infirmity. Do you know people like that? Do you know children like that? People hid their faces from Him. do you know any children like that?
Just like Job, people thought bad things happened to him because he sinned. But he wasn't carrying his own sin & suffering. He was carrying ours. We're the ones who rebelled against God -"upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed." It sounds like He took on Himself the punishment/correction that we needed to help us learn and change. It sounds like He was battered, bruised, and sick so God could/would heal us. Did He do all this for children, too or just for adults?
Can I look at someone who is chronically sick or debilitated and think, "Jesus endured that, too"?
Israelite children were familiar with sheep. Like sheep, we went our own way but Jesus, without turning His own way, accepted the consequences so we could follow where God was walking.
"By a perversion of justice he was taken away." Looking back we know God had a plan for all that happened to Jesus but at the time it was still a perversion of justice extended towards a most innocent, undeserving person.
His grave with the wicked. His tomb with the rich...We don't think of Him as wicked or rich. But here was another way He can identify with His people.
Do you think someday when we meet Him and tell him all our excuses and all our woes He will say to us, "Been there. Done that. You have no excuse"? Will He sympathize? Will He empathize?
(53:11-12)"Out of his anguish he shall see light; he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge. The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities . . . he poured out himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors." I don't want to even pretend to understand this and all of it's far-reaching implications. And I don't know that our recognition of the depth of Jesus suffering is so much to share with people as to incorporate into our prayers for people struggling in these places.
How can we bring this understanding of Christ Jesus to children...
Psalm 22 • This is the Psalm for us (whatever our age) to help us remember that even when we don't believe God is listening that he still hears & answers prayers. Jesus on the cross. The exact opposite of what His followers expected.
"Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel."
There's that crowd of witnesses again.
What's it like when you feel like a worm?
What does this tell us about childhood faith? "Yet it was you who took me from the womb; you kept me safe on my mother's breast. On you I was cast from my birth, and since my mother bore me you have been my God. Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help."
(22:22-24) Children can share this: "I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
You who fear the LORD, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him;
stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
For he did not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted;
he did not hide his face from me, but heard when I cried to him."
(22:30-31) "Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord, and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn, saying that he has done it."
Hebrews 10:16-25 (10:23-25)"Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful." Kids can do that. "...let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds. . ." Kids can do that. ". . . not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching. . ." Kids can do this too.
or Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9 • Jesus our high priest. Someone who sympathizes with our weakness. What would be the opposite of that? He is someone who has faced all the same tests we do, without messing up opening the door so we can come to him with confidence when we need Him and we can find mercy and grace.
This talks about Jesus praying. It talks about Jesus the son learning to obey His Father through the things He suffered...then the Son, in turn, became a source of eternal salvation to those who obey Him...
Here is the story of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. A place where Jesus often met with His disciples. Somehow I forget that line when I think of the garden. A story to act out.
Then you have the story of Jesus before the religious leaders. Another story to act out. What do we know about Annas and Caiaphas? What background stories can kids be familiar with to better understand the characters before they act out a story from scripture?
You have the story of Peter's betrayal. Judas betrayed Jesus. Peter betrayed Jesus, too. What was different?
You have the story of Jesus before Pilate.
You have the story of Jesus on the cross.
You have the story of Jesus & the soldiers.
You have the story of Jesus, Joseph, & Nicodemas.
What parts of the Lenten & Easter stories will mean something to the youngest child? Preschool? Early Elementary. Late Elementary? Pre-teen? Teen? To what degree will it depend on the demographics of your kids and what they've been exposed to?