I saw Reese’s Peanut Butter eggs on the supermarket shelf this week, and it can mean only one thing: Easter approaches! Granted, its approach is heralded really early this year, but it’s never too early to discuss the resurrection of Jesus with our kids. Fortunately, the “Minimal Facts” approach is a fantastic starting point for addressing objections to the resurrection, and it can be easily adapted for explaining to kiddos.
What is the “Minimal Facts” Approach?
Dr. Gary Habermas has compiled a list of 12 facts that are 95% agreed upon (even by critics!), have strong evidence to support them, and are best explained by the historical resurrection of Jesus Christ. There are many resources (books, videos, audio, you name it) available online that lay out these facts and provide greater detail than we are writing today, so we’d highly recommend that if this interests you, or your kids have follow-up questions, that you check out this video and Dr. Habermas’ website to learn more.
So What Are the Facts?
- Jesus died by crucifixion.
- He was buried.
- His death caused the disciples to despair and lose hope.
- The tomb was empty.
- The disciples believed they experienced literal appearances of the risen Jesus.
- The disciples were transformed from doubters to bold proclaimers.
- They preached the message of Jesus’ resurrection in Jerusalem.
- The resurrection was the central message.
- The Church began and grew.
- Orthodox Jews who believed in Jesus made Sunday their primary day of worship.
- James (a family skeptic) was converted to the faith when he saw the resurrected Jesus.
- Paul (a skeptic and persecutor of early Christians) was converted to the faith
So why are these facts and believing the resurrection was a real historical event important? The resurrection is proof – evidence – of Christianity’s truth. The empty tomb stands as a testament to that truth. No other religion’s veracity depends upon a historical event. Paul explains that if Jesus was not raised from the dead our faith is useless, and we should be pitied above all men (1 Cor. 15:14-19). If Jesus was not raised, we are unforgiven and unsaved. Furthermore, our faith would be a farce. However, if He was raised from the dead, the payment for our sins is complete, and we need only repent and believe in Him to be saved! Our faith truly hinges on the historical resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Talking about the Facts with Your Children
Here are a few objections to address with your kiddos to get the conversation ball rolling:
What if the disciples stole Jesus’ body and hid it so that people would think He came back to life?
That would explain the empty tomb, wouldn’t it? There are a few problems with that idea. Disciples and friends of Jesus were killed for telling people that He came back to life. They wouldn’t have been willing to die if they knew it was just a lie. That would be silly. Not only that, but there were many soldiers guarding Jesus’ tomb. A few sad disciples couldn’t have sneaked past that many guards without being seen. Plus, if the guards had noticed them, the disciples wouldn’t have stood a chance. Furthermore, those soldiers were really tough. Fighting them would be like a single person fighting a tank!
So maybe Jesus’ friends just got lost, went to the wrong tomb, and only thought it was empty
We’ve all gotten turned around in a store and been unable to find an item, or lost a toy in our messy room before. There was a lot more at stake with the missing tomb than there is with a missing toy, isn’t there?
If the disciples had simply gotten lost, wouldn’t the people that killed Jesus tell everyone where the right tomb was (Just like your parent finding the missing toy, or a store clerk pointing you to the right aisle)? Also, Jesus was buried in a tomb that belonged to a man named Joseph. It wasnʼt a secret. When people started saying ‘Hey! Jesus is alive,’ the Jews and Romans could have easily proved them wrong by pointing out the correct tomb, but they didn’t, because they couldn’t, because the correct tomb was really empty.
Then Jesus pretended He was dead and only pretended He came back to life
Jesus was hurt very, very badly the day He was put on the cross. He was hurt so badly that everyone that saw Him and touched Him said He was dead; even the guards and people that were trained to know better. There is no way he could have rolled away the HUGE tombstone (some of those stones weighed 4000 lbs!) and then fought off the guards to escape if He was that injured. And He sure couldn’t have fooled 500 people into thinking He came back to life in a perfect body, after being whipped, beaten, crucified and fighting a group of armed guards. Therefore it’s incredibly hard to believe that anyone would have believed him, and then staked their life on that belief.
Don’t be afraid of questions and objections about the resurrection. We’ve only found that the more we face them head on with the kids in our home and the kids in our Sunday School classes, the more questions they feel free to ask and the more our faith is strengthened by the overwhelming amount of support and evidence available to us.
Have you checked out ‘Possums and the Empty Tomb?
Picture Book Apologetics’ ‘Possums and the Empty Tomb addresses the objections and answers provided above in an early-elementary story format. If this interests you, you can learn more here and purchase a copy on Amazon here.