My oldest daughter is excited about missing school on Good Friday. In the car on the way to school she asked. “What is Good Friday?” I took the opportunity to briefly explain the significance of Good Friday and what it means for us as Christians, but I wasn’t satisfied with my short explanation. So I decided to do it right and plan a special Good Friday family devotional to further explain to both my children. Please feel free to take what I have prepared here and share it with your children.
The action of Jesus dying on the cross is very complex. Sometimes I feel it is too complex for us humans (or at least myself) to fully understand everything that is going on at the cross. Instead of trying to explain it all in this family devotional—and thus lose my children in the process—I decided to focus on Jesus’ defeat of evil, powers and authorities (Colossians 2:15).
Most of us, including Jesus’ disciples, believe the way to defeat your enemies is to kill them before they can kill you. This is traditionally how battles are won. Jesus, however, didn’t do it that way. He taught the opposite telling us to love our enemies and pray for them. Jesus put this into action on the cross and submitted himself to death at the hands of his enemies. At the time, Jesus disciples (who thought a lot like we do) saw this as His, and their, own defeat. It was so backward to what they knew and understood that they couldn’t see until later how it was actually the defeat of evil and death itself.
To explain this to your children lead them through this simple activity. Have everyone in your family take turns trying to trace the shape of a cross while only looking in a mirror. Place a picture of a cross on a table in front of a mirror. Ask one member of your family to trace the picture, while another member holds a folder above their hands so they can’t peek.
Supplies you will need:
- A Mirror (We used a small decorative mirror that we propped up on our kitchen table. You can probably use your bathroom mirror and trace on top the bathroom counter.)
- A folder or piece of cardboard about the size of a sheet of paper.
- A print out of a cross Download one here
It is very difficult to trace the shape of the cross while only looking in the mirror. I asked both my girls to try while the other held the folder above their work. As they traced I heard my daughters saying things like “Am I going up or down?” and “I’m trying to think because the mirror is in reverse.” After they traced the cross in the mirror I gave them a different colored marker and asked them to trace the same cross without the folder blocking their view.
After both my children had tried their best I began to explain Jesus’ actions on the cross.
What was hard about tracing the cross in the mirror?
Which felt more natural, looking in the mirror, or looking directly at the paper?
How do you win a battle against an enemy army?
I then explained, the best I could, how what Jesus did on the cross was a lot like tracing in the mirror. It is backward from the way we think it should be. Typically battles are won by outlasting, or surviving longer than the enemy. If you want to win you have to kill them before they kill you. Jesus did it backwards, instead of killing his enemy, he allowed them to kill him first. The only difference is Jesus didn’t stay dead.
I then asked:
How hard do you think it would be to defeat an enemy that won’t stay dead?
I explained that is how Jesus “disarmed” all the power in the world. Bad guys only have power over people because they can threaten to hurt or kill them. Through the cross and resurrection, Jesus took away their greatest weapon—the ability to kill. He even promised his followers would one day be resurrected just as he has been (1 Corinthians 15:12–32). This was the ultimate victory. How can you defeat an army that won’t stay dead?