The Life of Jesus
Every Christian home should teach the life of Jesus at least once a year. We do it during the week of Easter. Once every five years, we spend most of the year on the life of Christ (for Bible class), going through one parable per day, or one event. We use hands-on ideas, like dressing up in simple costumes and acting out the scene. Then we discuss it. Or we get a small sheep puppet and hide it; when the children find it, they get a prize, so there is rejoicing when a lost sheep is found. There is plenty there for a whole year's study. What I did was, I synchronized all four Gospels, so that the story was told once, thoroughly, instead of over and over four times. For example, I read about the birth of Jesus from each of the three Gospels that include it. By the end of the year, my children had a thorough understanding about the life of Christ.
But for this particular article, we will focus on a good, one-week study that any family can do. First of all, one Gospel should be read over the course of the week, with the resurrection happening on Sunday. I used the Bible on cassette, and I played it during breakfast each morning. You could read it in the evenings instead, if you have read-alouds at your house. If all you do is read the actual Scripture, you do well, and the Word of God will not return void.
Veritas Press puts out a CD called “The Gospels Memory Song.” It is quite good. It comes with cards that illustrate the life of Christ. I laminated our cards and put them on a ring. You wouldn't have time to read all the description on the backs of the cards if you were only doing a one-week study, but the song is only about 10 or 15 minutes, so you could play that each day after the Bible reading. Let the kids flip the pictures as they listen to the song.
In order to picture the life of Christ, I like to take my children to a play or a re-enactment of the life of Christ. Many churches do this around Easter. The one here in Spokane, Washington, is called “Journey to the Cross,” and it has over 100 actors in full costume. It takes 15 minutes to walk down a path with a guide, and the entire adult life of Christ is acted out. The play starts out at a large gate with Roman soldiers. As you walk through, you see a Jewish wedding dance. When the water is turned to wine, the water actually turns red. It makes you feel like you were there to see the miracle. The scene of Christ on the cross is a bit gory, as it looks like the nails actually went through His hands, but that's the way it really was. And for the resurrection, we were in a room; it went dark, and suddenly Jesus appeared out of nowhere. That's what really happened, and I understood the freaked out feeling of the disciples for the first time. It was quite an experience.
If you don't have anything like that in your city, I would watch the Jesus video to get the visual understanding of what the life of Christ was like. The Mel Gibson video is way more gory than the Jesus video, but it might be good for older teenagers to understand the intense suffering Jesus had to endure to pay for our sin.
The Very First Easter by Paul L. Maier is a well-written, beautifully illustrated book about the days leading to the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. However, if you just sit down and talk to your children about what Christ's death means to you personally, this can have the greatest impact of all.