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Easter is about Jesus. No doubt about it.
The idea of God breaking Himself into pieces in order to reunite people to Him is, well, rather radical. It’s a lot to take in. However, the process of patching things up with people started a lot earlier in the Scriptures than most of our kiddos realize.
Our question this chocolate-bunnies-in-the-basket season is: have we actually covered the Easter basics with our children?
This bridging business started the minute people copped an attitude of, “I love you, God, but this is where I award the starring role of boss of my life to…well, me.”
This mindset of, “I would like to be boss of myself – um, except when I need a hand,” kicked off in the Bible around page two. And which of the Bible heroes were guilty of it after that?
Most of the big ones. A lot of the minor ones. Actually, pretty much everybody.
That’s not how God wanted things to go. He never intended people to dump or reject or separate themselves from Him. “That is not what God desires; rather, he devises ways so that a banished person does not remain banished from Him.” (2 Sam 14:14)
Redemption has been going on for a long, long time. So has the problem it faces.
And it wasn’t only the Bible characters.
Our kids should regularly hear from us refrains like this: You are great! You’re wonderful! But, like your ancestors of yore, you want to be boss of yourself.
It stands to reason that they get this desire because they are made in the image of a Creator who lives under no one’s authority but His own.
But nobody on earth is any good at living that way. Our kids mistake that for freedom, but it isn’t. It is independence, maybe, but it is a certain kind of independence that blocks intimacy. An absence of intimacy is not free living. In fact, that throws a wrench into…just about everything.
Just ask Abraham.
In the midst of Abraham’s life trajectory in which he was responding wonderfully to God and then even more wonderfully still, Abraham erratically yanked back control over his life and tried to pawn off Sarah as his sister in order to save his own hide.
No judgment, because, you know, tough times and all, but baaaaaaaaad decision, brother Abraham. (Genesis 12:10-20)
God’s response was to make a covenant that set in motion Easter in ways our kids rarely hear told through pastel pictorials.
The story is weird, but it goes like this. Abraham fell asleep (kinda) after laying out pieces of animal flesh (gross, but he was making a deal with God. Actually God was making a deal with him, as in, let me be your God and watch what happens next). The animal flesh was the ritual of the day in which the weaker party would walk through the pieces, agreeing, “If I break my promise to you, I’ll get broken to bits like these pieces right here.”
Yet, instead of Abraham walking through the pieces, God shot his lightning bolt through on Abraham’s behalf. (Genesis 15:9-21)
Which is to say, if Abraham disloyally took the place of God in his own life again, God would break Himself up over reconciling the cost of such a thing.
Nice. Who would do anything to break away from that demonstration of true love?
Well, Abraham did! Not even a few chapters later and we read that he tried to pawn off Sarah as his sister again.
So, yes, kids! Amazing. Look, look, look at amazing you! Go forth and be you. The world awaits and will be all the better because of you!
Except for the times when it isn’t. Who is going to cover for that?
According to the Scriptures, I AM. (John 8:56-59)
What started with Abraham’s God saying “let me cut myself into pieces to cover when YOU break covenant with ME,” comes to fruition in Jesus.
The Jesus portion of the show includes a lot of extra bits, but the biggest of all is this: if being broken on our behalf was a big deal in Abraham’s Act 1, then just wait until our children get a glimpse of the explosive Jesus finale after that called: resurrection.
This God, willing to break to pieces on our kiddos’ behalf, likewise has the juice to defeat what’s causing all that breaking into pieces in the first place.
Wherein, we exit the basics.
We are moving into territory here that needs explanations, most of which we struggle with precisely, but we do have some. It is in walking this out, thinking it through and, oddly, messing it up that we get a grip on the gap, the bridge and the rolled away stone that takes the sting out of the worst of the worst of the worst possible things.
Breaking pieces is horrible. The other side is resurrection. Who is making such an odd system work together for good?
The God of Scripture says, “I Am,” if you give Him a chance.
He wishes you would.
“Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows…he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds, we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)
Janelle Alberts writes pithy Bible synopses and is a regular contributor to Christianity Today's Gifted for Leadership. Find out more about Alberts here.