On Thursday afternoon, I sat down to read The Jesus Storybook Bible with the boys.
Our Easter celebrations and observances have been a bit lackluster this year…or even nonexistent. I’ve been fasting and reading for Lent, but we haven’t done much as a family. We are missing our Florida community something fierce, remembering how rich and full this season has felt in years past.
But all is not lost, certainly, and something is better than nothing, so I just cracked open our favorite Bible and began reading at The Last Supper, where Jesus washed the feet of his friends.
I kept reading, and we found ourselves in the Garden of Gethsemane: Jesus asking His friends to stay up with him and keep watch, the Roman soldiers marching in, Jesus peacefully walking away with them.
And I stopped. Ian asked, “What that page about, Mama?”
As a parent, I want to protect my boys from the world’s scary and mean, confusing and hurtful, violent and gory. (Now, I understand the merits of letting my boys fail, of teaching them about life’s hard moments. I’m no lawn mower parent, cutting down the obstacles and smoothing the bumpy path before them.)
But if I had it my way? If I could set up the world just so? I would make sure they never suffer, no one ever hurts them, they never face the sting of disappointment or the burn of failure. I want to make every sad thing about this broken world untrue.
I looked at Ian sitting next to me and Leo perched in my lap, and I didn’t want to keep reading. I wanted to spare my boys the terror of a man executed on a cross; the heartbreak of friends, family, and followers standing by to watch; the violence of thorns and nails piercing the innocent man’s kin. I just wanted to turn the page.
Of course, there’s a certain level of developmental appropriateness to consider. Trust me, over almost three years working in children’s ministry, I have had those conversations. I have tried to frame the crucifixion of Jesus in the most preschool-friendly terms possible.
But the truth is this: there is nothing pretty, sweet, or palatable about it. I understand that fully now, perhaps for the first time.
And yet, as many have said, we still call that Friday “good.”
Because the truth is, I see Ian hit and kick when he is angry, and I hear the impatience in my response, and I know it deep in my bones. It was my sin that put Jesus on the cross.
But it was love that held him there, love that sent him to the depths of hell, love that brought him back up out of the grave three days later.
On Friday, we mourn. On Saturday, we wait.
And on Sunday?
Oh, on Sunday, we turn the page.
Happy Easter, friends.