Marshmallows and Jesus

My seven year old would typically fall in line with his birth order and let his older brother do the heavy lifting, but this occasion found him so engaged he didn’t realize he was leading the way.  We were making Resurrection Rolls with all three boys and doing our best to stay on script.  Our audience was dialed in.

“The marshmallow represents Jesus. The oil and sugar represent the manner in which He was prepared for burial and the rolls show how He was sealed in the tomb,” we’d told them before carefully placing the rolls in the preheated oven.

A few minutes later we were preparing for the big reveal.  “What was found in the tomb when they rolled away the stone?” I prompted.

Somewhat hesitantly, but still leading his brothers, Sam replied, “A marshmallow?”

If I’m honest, my first reaction was a bit of frustration closely followed by a sense of failure.  My then six year old was unable to recount the single most important detail of the Easter story as we walked him through it.  Mercifully, the humor of the moment dulled some of the disappointment. So where did we go wrong?   MARSHMALLOWS in the tomb… really…?  I was certain we did all the steps right.  For better or worse, I suspect most of us with children have experienced something like this.  How can we know we’re getting it right as parents when it doesn’t seem like our kids are getting it at all? I like the format laid out in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 known in the Jewish tradition as the Shema.

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

This is a pretty rich passage both textually and theologically, but for practical application in bullet format I try to work this rotation: KNOW HIM> LOVE HIM> SHARE HIM > REPEAT.

KNOW HIM – In order to replicate my faith in my kids I must first know what I believe.  The Israelites needed to be reminded of who Jehovah was.  The Lord is One – there is no other.  Do I know Him? I have no hope of introducing my children to someone I don’t know.  If I want to know Him better then I need to know His word.

LOVE HIM – We are instructed not only to love God but to do it with all of our hearts and souls and might.  Loving God is partially a byproduct of knowing Him, but also a matter of volition for us.  Am I choosing to love God…to pursue Him with my whole being?  My kids will imitate what I demonstrate.

SHARE HIM - When we love someone or something we naturally concentrate or dwell on that.  Our attention is fixed on whatever or whomever we love.  And if you pay any attention to human behavior, people share about that which they love.  They talk about it when they sit at home and when they walk along the “way” and when they lie down and when they get up. We naturally engage in this discipleship role when we know and love God ourselves.

Easter Resurrection Buns
Easter Resurrection Buns

REPEAT – Observant Jews continue to utilize phylacteries (as a sign on hands and between eyes) and mezuzahs (on doorposts) to this day - exactly as prescribed in this passage.  This is the original version of placing something on repeat.  Morning and evening, coming and going the word is dripped into their hearts and minds.  We should be in Scripture in the same manner; that we may know God, and in knowing Him love Him, and in loving him share Him. The tools and activities Crosswalk Kids provide are fantastic resources we can leverage to communicate the truth of Scripture to our kids, but they are simply tools.  The Truth must live in us if we want to effectively pass it on to our children.

Editor's Note: This story is from an activity provided by NCC Crosswalk Kids last Easter. Consider doing it as a family this Easter week.

Matt Johnson serves as the Business and Operations Director at National Community Church.  Matt and his wife, Nicole, are raising their three energetic little boys in Northern Virginia.  They attend NCC's Kingstowne campus.