One of the hardest things to explain to a youngster is the blood sacrifice. Handled poorly, it can sound either pointless or just gross, and you lose the concept of atonement.
A great way to teach salvation through Jesus’ sacrifice is with an object lesson. Bonus points: the last step can be added to teach eternal security.
You will need:
– A clear plastic water or pop bottle with lid, filled with water. (Remove label.)
– Instant coffee (a single-serve packet works great)
– Raspberry, cherry, or other deep-red drink mix (again, a single-serve packet is ideal)
- Start with the water bottle. It represents a brand new life, clean and pure. It tastes good! This is something God can use, right?
- Explain that every one of us will start to sin. Add just a few granules of coffee and let the children see as it spins down into the water and dissolves. It’ll be a weird yellow. “But it still doesn’t look too bad, does it?” Then ask each child in turn to name a sin – not cleaning your room when Mommy tells you to, lying, cheating, hitting your brother, etc. For each answer, add a few more granules of instant coffee. The water will get progressively uglier and dirtier. “Is this something God will like?” They’ll tell you no. Ask if anyone wants to taste it now (you’ve already tasted the water, so please don’t give it to the inevitable child who wants to try it!) ***Bonus: take a sip and pull a face. It’s bitter and nasty. Explain how sin can make your life nasty and unhappy. Ask if they’ve ever known somebody that was always mean and grumpy (no names, please).
- So when God looks at my life and sees sin in my heart, can He take me to His nice, clean Heaven? Can I clean all the yuck out of this water and make it clear again? Will this water ever look like it did before? The answer is definitely no. All this water is good for now is dumping out. So how can I ever go to Heaven?
- When you do wrong, somebody’s got to pay. Sometimes YOU have to pay; we could throw out this water because it’s dirty, and we could die and go to Hell because we’re sinners. When somebody ELSE decides to pay so you don’t have to, that’s called sacrifice. That’s what Jesus did. Jesus loved us so much, that He decided to become our sacrifice. That’s why He died on the cross for us – not because He did anything wrong, but because somebody without any sin had to be the sacrifice for us. Then He rose from the dead, went back to Heaven, and offered His blood instead of ours. When we pray and say, “Jesus, I’ve done bad things, and because of that, I can’t go to Heaven. I know you are the only way for me to get there. Please forgive me of my sin”, Jesus puts His own blood on our hearts. (Pour the red drink mix into the bottle. The color will transform dramatically, and the gross brown water is gone.) (NOTE: for you analogy purists, yes, I realize that the red drink mix didn’t cleanse the water from the coffee, as Jesus’ blood cleanses our hearts from sin, but the visual effect clicks well with the kids. If you like, you could substitute an entirely different bottle of clean water here and talk about “old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”)
- So when God looks at our hearts now, does He see that old nasty sin water? No! What does He see? Jesus’ blood! Now, that sounds gross, but it really isn’t. When you fall and skin your knee, and it starts bleeding, who do you run to? (“Mom” is usually the answer here.) Does she yell “EWWWW!!! That’s gross, get away from me!!!”, or does she give you a hug and say, “Come here, honey, you’re my child and I love you!” (“Come here, I love you”.) So when God the Father looks at us and sees Jesus’ blood on our hearts, He doesn’t say, “Eww, that’s gross” – He says “That’s my child; you’re precious to me and I love you!”
- ****Bonus: Eternal Security lesson. After we’ve asked Jesus to save us, and His blood is on our hearts, we sometimes still do bad things. Add a few more instant coffee granules to the bottle. “Did it turn nasty again? Do we still have Jesus’ blood on our hearts?” The coffee will be completely unnoticeable in the richly dyed water now. In God’s eyes, we still look the same – we have Jesus’ blood on our hearts, we are His children, and He still loves us. So all we have to do now is ask Him to forgive us, and try harder next time to do what’s right.