What Jesus said about children

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14, NIV).

How Kids Think
Some people say, “Children need to grasp the Gospel’s deep significance before they should be given an opportunity to respond.” This thinking marginalizes the power of the Good News. As a result, those kids miss out on the privilege of receiving new life and enjoying Jesus’ companionship during the difficult challenges before them.

Approximately half of the people in America who come to faith in Christ respond to the Gospel before the age of 13*. That statistic underscores the importance of presenting the Good News to children—clearly and enthusiastically!

Children Can Respond to the Gospel
As soon as children become aware of personal sin, they are ripe to respond to the Good News. Even young children begin to grasp who God is, what He is like, what He has done, and what He can do. As children grow in their understanding, they realize that God is real, that the Bible is true, and that faith in God is reasonable.

By the time kids reach the age of 8-10, they develop the ability to think abstractly. By then they can personalize the concept of substitution—that Jesus took their place; He died to forgive their own sins. According to God’s law, punishment for sins requires payment of blood—an innocent victim must die for the guilty party (Romans 6:23). Jesus willingly took our place and punishment. He defeated death for us. Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf inaugurates a life transformation that allows believers of any age to begin a personal relationship with God (Hebrews 9:28, 10:10). This is Good News!

The Stone Table

As a child, I grew to love the book series C.S. Lewis wrote for children, the Chronicles of Narnia. Though I devoured all seven of the Narnia books, none was as captivating to me as The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I knew that story inside and out. As a nine-year-old, I even had an opportunity to participate in the musical version at my church. Acting in the musical brought Aslan the lion and the Pevensie children to life!

When the White Witch interrupted the celebration of spring, she turned me into stone (I was “Squirrel #3”). Later in the story, the evil Witch bristled at the news that Aslan had joined his army near the Stone Table. Our party of squirrels, foxes, and fauns stood on one side of the stage during the epic showdown between the White Witch and Aslan.

The climax centered around Edmund Pevensie’s betrayal of his siblings. Edmund had been distinctly deceived about the true identity of the White Witch. C.S. Lewis describes the scene, “You mustn’t think that even now Edmund was quite so bad that he actually wanted his brother and sisters to be turned into stone. He did want Turkish Delight and to be a Prince (and later a King) and to pay Peter out for calling him a beast. As for what the Witch would do with the others, he didn’t want her to be particularly nice to them…but he managed to believe, or to pretend he believed, that she wouldn’t do anything very bad to them.”

The White Witch reminded Aslan, “…every traitor belongs to me as my lawful prey and that for every treachery I have the right to kill.” She had tricked Edmund, played off his weaknesses, and then condemned him as a traitor! In a private war counsel, however, Aslan and the White Witch came to a secret agreement.

Edmund had no idea that Aslan had offered himself as a sacrifice to save his life and to appease the laws of justice in the land. As the drama unfolded, I wanted to shake Edmund’s character. Don’t you know he’s dying for you? Don’t you know Aslan took your place? How can you even begin to understand how unfair that is?

Having read the story countless times, I knew what was coming—but for a “living moment” I grieved with sorrow over Aslan’s undeserved punishment. As Aslan’s enemies bound him with ropes, shaved his mane, and then killed him on the stone table, I felt an overwhelming sadness.

Then Aslan came back to life—and the whole room shook! Nothing could match the triumph that accompanied his glorious resurrection from the dead. Aslan had defeated the White Witch, satisfied justice, and was now ready to empower his followers to fight on! Aslan’s glory and power transformed the whole land. He “unfroze” every stone creature, including my merry party of animals. Brought back to life by the lion, I could move and live again!

Lewis’s story and my role in that musical forever illumined the wonder and awe of Jesus taking my place on the “Stone Table.”

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, NIV).

What You Can Do

  • Download FREE Good News for Kids here.
  • Discern your child’s spiritual condition: Is he or she ready to respond, struggling to understand, or resisting the Gospel message?
  • Don’t manipulate a boy or girl to simply respond in the way you want.
  • When a child responds to God’s offer of forgiveness and new life, encourage him or her to publicly profess faith in Christ to friends and family.
  • When you sense the time is appropriate, present the Gospel twice:

1) The first time through, clearly explain the Good News. You may want to use visuals, stories, or diagrams to help communicate the message.
2) The second time, review the Gospel and offer an opportunity to respond.

“You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:14-15, NIV).
* Barna Group “Evangelism Is Most Effective Among Kids”, October 2004.

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