Since I began attending my church 3 years ago, I’ve been greatly moved by my pastor’s heart for liturgy and traditionalism in the walk of faith. Having grown up in a Charismatic, evangelical church, I didn’t have first-hand experience with practices such as the observance of Lent or First Communion before now.
Last year in his sermon on Lent, my pastor explained that Lent is a journey that moves us toward the cross. While it’s traditionally been the sacrifice of something dear as a form of repentance, he believes that the observance of Lent can include the addition or subtraction of something in your life to enhance your spiritual journey and further focus you on Jesus during the Easter season.
I love his explanation because it makes Lent so much more accessible to the average person. And it makes it possible to share the observance of Lent with our children.
Lent is traditionally observed from Ash Wednesday through Easter Eve. When not counting Sundays (as is typically the case) this equals 40 days. Lent is thought to be a commemoration of the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert as he prepared for public ministry.
The following Bible stories will help you share the life and ministry of Jesus with your child during the Lenten season. Focusing your child’s attention on Jesus’ life as we head towards Easter is a great way to open their heart to deeper friendship with him. Discussing these important parts of the story is essential to building conversations of faith in your home.
Whether you choose to add or subtract something in your life to observe Lent as a family is completely up to you. Pray about what the season needs to look like in your home.
Three Bible Stories That Teach Kids About Lent
1. Jesus is Baptized by John
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son,with whom I am well pleased.”
Jesus is baptized to be an example to his followers. We are baptized as a public example that we are a follower of Jesus.
Baptism is a way to publicly tell others we are a follower of Christ. Being led under water and then raised back up again is like acting out Jesus’ death and resurrection. Baptism is a symbol (a visual example) of the new life we receive when we accept Christ as our savior. It is one way we publicly share that we need Jesus to cleanse or forgive us of our sins. Although your child may not yet be ready to be baptized, it is good to begin discussing this important step of faith. Until you and your child (along with your pastor or children’s pastor) decide they are ready to be baptized, encourage your child that they can be a daily example of Christ’s love to others at home, at school or in the neighborhood.
Related verse – Colossians 2:12:
Having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.
2. Feeding of the Five Thousand
After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias.And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!”
Jesus performed many miracles during his ministry to show God’s love and power.
Although the ultimate purpose for Jesus coming to earth was to take away our sins so we could be closer to God, as he spent time with people, he also taught them how to live and love and access the power of God in their everyday lives. Your child may already be familiar with this popular story but retell it to them with an emphasis on why Jesus performed miracles like this one. By interacting with people through teaching, miracles, and healing, Jesus opened his heart to others allowing them to open their hearts to him. Jesus wants to be in relationship with us. He wants us to know him and love him as much as he knows and loves us.
Related verse – John 20:31 (NIV):
But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
3. Jesus Sends Out the Twelve
And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
Jesus chooses and sends out his 12 apostles to continue to share the good news of God’s love and power.
The word apostle comes from the Greek word originally meaning, “messenger.” These twelve men were Jesus’ disciples or followers during his ministry. He asks these trusted men to go and teach others about him. Jesus wanted them to spread the good news of his love and to heal the sick and help the hurting in his name. Use this story to tell your child that Jesus asks us to do the same today. We are his messengers when we share his love with others. God has great plans for each one of us to be his messengers. When we grow in friendship with him, we will begin to better understand his plans for us.
Related verse – Matthew 28:19-20:
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
We hope that these stories and verses will help your family through this time of reflection. Will your family observe Lent this year? What Bible stories or passages will you use to guide your child toward the cross?
As you prepare to ready your hearts for Easter, your family can experience the Kingdom of God in a new way with My Jesus Journal. This family journal helps your children understand who they are in Christ and gives you opportunities to begin the conversations about salvation that you want to have with them!
Jessica Wolstenholm is co-founder of Grace for Moms. After 15 years in the music and publishing industries, Jessica came home to be with her two small children. Although the transition from the corporate world to the playground has been an adjustment, she is learning every day to access the grace available to us through Christ as she navigates the full time job of motherhood. She is the co-author of The Pregnancy Companion: A Faith-Filled Guide for Your Journey to Motherhood and The Baby Companion: A Faith-Filled Guide for Your Journey Through Baby’s First Year. Jessica lives in Nolensville, TN with her husband, Dave and two miracle babies, Hope (5) and Joshua (2).