Talking with Children About Jesus

What do children need in order to thrive? There are so many answers to that question: Unconditional love. Safety and security. Opportunities to explore their God-given gifts. The stable and faithful care of parents, grandparents, or other caregivers who will nurture them and show them how to live. Friends. Someone who will help them build good self-esteem. Learning to exercise self-control. Someone who will help them learn to live primarily for others, rather than only for themselves.

All of these good gifts are indeed necessary. But there is one thing more, without which no child can truly and deeply thrive. One thing of paramount importance. That thing is to develop a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Why? It boils down to this: every person on earth was made for relationship with God through His Son, Jesus. Jesus says: “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Without that relationship, nothing in life develops as it was designed to be. Nothing matters. It’s as though a talented artist created a beautiful masterpiece, and then locked it away in a closet for no one to enjoy.

Notice that I speak here of a relationship with Jesus. The word relationship is key. To have a relationship with someone is very different from simply knowing facts about that person. I know many facts about my wife. But those facts alone do nothing to help me or to bless her. If I don’t have relationship with my wife, those facts are meaningless.

To have relationship with Jesus is not only to know about him, but it is to know him. To experience his love, to feel the comfort of his presence, to know the faithfulness of his care, to rest in the finality of his work for us on the cross. Jesus is a living person who knows us and wants us to know him.

What are some things you can do to help your child develop a relationship with Jesus? ere Here are a few simple ways to begin.

  1. Teach your child about Jesus. Yes, I did say a moment ago that simply knowing facts about Jesus is not the same as knowing Jesus. But how else do you help start a relationship between two people, except to introduce them? Learning about Jesus is the first step in growing in relationship with him. You can do this through reading Scripture with your child. Begin in an age-appropriate way. For older children, you can read with them directly from the Bible. But for younger children, it might be easier to use a children’s Bible or a Bible storybook. Links to some suggested resources may be found below.
  2. Talk with your child about your own relationship with Jesus. Most children learn anecdotally, through example. Regardless of the depth of your own relationship with Jesus, give real-life examples of how you know Jesus loves you. Talk about how Jesus has answered your prayers. Talk about how you know God has forgiven your sin because Jesus died on the cross in your place. Even if you feel you don’t have much first-hand experience, trust that the Lord will not only use you to help your child know about Jesus, but that the Lord will grow your own with him as you do it.
  3. Pray for your child. You have a sacred privilege as a parent, grandparent, guardian, or caregiver to intercede on behalf of your child. Ask the Lord to give your child faith to believe in Jesus. Pray that you would be a good example of a faithful Christian for your child. Pray that the Holy Spirit would protect your child from Satan’s influence and deception. Pray that the Spirit would give your child a tender heart, and that he or she would recognize that they are a sinner in need of God’s grace.
  4. Pray with your child. Praying with your child is not only a way to bond with your child and help them to bond to Jesus, but a way to teach them how to pray themselves. The prayers don’t need to be long, but sometimes having regular times to pray during the day is helpful. Some parents pray with their children in the morning, around mealtimes, and before bed. And praying with your child when difficult things happen—like disappointments, temper tantrums, or fights—is a good way to teach your child to turn to the Lord. The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) is a prayer all by itself, as well as a good basis for many other prayers. If you’d like some additional ideas about ways to pray with your child, a short list of resources follows at the end of this article.
  5. Bring your child to church and Sunday school. God’s people aren’t just a bunch of individuals; they are a community. Jesus established this community (called the church) as a way to make his character and work known to the world, and for the benefit of all of the members of the church. Many churches have Sunday schools that help children not only learn about Jesus, but where children can develop relationships with peers and where parents can develop relationships with other adults. Going to church isn’t meant to be a legalistic thing. It’s actually a gift from the Lord, which enables us to grow in faith and in love with God and with one another.

This article only scratches the surface concerning talking with your children about Jesus. But it’s a start. If you’d like some more ideas, talk with a trusted Christian friend, your pastor, or one of the teachers or administrators at one of the Jubilee network Schools. And check back to this blog for more articles on helping your child learn about Jesus.


Children’s Bibles and Bible Storybooks


Prayer Books for Children

Tim Geiger (M.Div.) is Executive Director of Children's Jubilee Fund. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Tim has lived in or around the city most of his life. His undergraduate studies done at the Community College of Philadelphia, Tim went on to earn a Master of Divinity Degree from Westminster Theological Seminary. He is ordained as a Teaching Elder in the Presbyterian Church in America. Prior to serving at Children's Jubilee Fund, Tim worked for the Internal Revenue Service, The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, and Harvest USA, where he also served as Executive Director and then President from 2012-2019. Tim lives with his wife and daughter just outside of Philadelphia.

Children's Jubilee Fund is a 501(c)(3) organization established in 1997 to provide tuition grants to Christian schools in the Philadelphia metro area that serve lower-income students. These grants are then awarded by the schools as scholarships to students who meet income and residency guidelines. Each year, Jubilee provides hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants that, in turn, help hundreds of students in Philadelphia, Delaware, Montgomery, and Camden Counties achieve their God-given academic and personal potential. Children's Jubilee Fund is an entirely donor-supported organization.

Is Jesus really with me in challenging times?

[Jesus speaking] “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

These words of Jesus from John’s Gospel come at the very end of an extended teaching segment that began back in Chapter 13. The context is that Jesus is about to be betrayed and arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. As a matter of fact, these are the final words of instruction that Jesus gives to his disciples before he prays for them, and is arrested. And the final words of hope that Jesus gave to his disciples apply to us, today.

Let’s look at the four main ideas in this concluding statement from Jesus, and see what hope they offer to us today. Imaging Jesus is speaking these same words to you, right now.

“I have said these things to you…” In the preceding chapters, Jesus speaks to his disciples about the suffering they’re about to experience: suffering that touches the physical, emotional, and financial aspects of their lives. The religious authorities will call them heretics. Their very lives will be threatened.

Yet intertwined with many prophecies of suffering, Jesus clearly makes promises of his presence with his followers as they go through those hard times. Here are some of them:

  • John 14:3. Jesus says that he goes to prepare a place for his people, and that he will come and take them to himself, so they will be together forever.
  • John 14:16. Jesus promises to ask the Father to send his people the Holy Spirit, to abide with them forever.
  • John 15:4. Jesus invites his people to abide in him, and he promises to abide in them. To abide with Jesus means not only to live with him, but to experience the benefits of his love and presence.
  • John 16:22. Jesus acknowledges that the disciples will experience sorrow now, be he promises that he will be with them again, and that they will have joy that perseveres no matter what circumstances they face.
  • John 16:27. Jesus tells his followers that God the Father already loves them, and is ready and able to provide what they need in the face of suffering.

“…in me you may have peace.” What does peace in Jesus while enduring suffering look like? Trusting in God’s purposes and provision, mostly…even if the end of our suffering doesn’t seem to be in sight.

There are two examples of what this peace looks like in the Psalms.

  • Psalm 123:1-2. Here, the image of people at peace are of two servants: a man and a woman, each looking to the hand of their master and mistress for what they need. The “hand” in Scripture is frequently an instrument of strength, of provision, of protection. Here, the servants look patiently and expectantly to the hands of the people on whom they depend to provide everything they need. In doing so, they trust their masters to provide for them, because the servants are loved.
  • Psalm 131:1-3. In verse 2, we encounter the image of a weaned child with its mother. An unweaned child will fuss and cry until it is fed. But a weaned child on its mother’s lap knows, even if it is hungry, that its desired food is coming. All it needs do is wait patiently.

Each of these examples gives us a different picture of what it looks like to experience peace in Jesus. He alone is the strong Master who will protect and provide for us. With the love and tenderness of a nursing mother, he will give us precisely what we need. And because he is Jesus, we can trust him to do both.

“In the world you will have tribulation…” Another word for tribulation is trouble. And you and I experience it daily. Perhaps your particular trouble today focus around finances, employment, anxiety over coronavirus, your children, or loneliness and isolation. Perhaps it’s something entirely different. No matter what, I find it actually encouraging that Jesus says, flat out, that trouble is something that everyone will experience. Not only does Jesus know in a general sense that you and I will experience trouble, but he knows in detail the particular trouble you and I will face.

But not only does Jesus know everything about our trouble, but he is perfectly and sovereignly in control over that trouble. Even in the midst of our hard circumstances, Jesus keeps them from being as bad as they could be. That isn’t to say that they might not become severe and bring us almost to our breaking point—sometimes, that does happen. But we accept by faith what the Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 8:28-30: that the Lord works everything together (even the very hard things) so that some good results for us. And that good is usually that we would see his love, mercy, provision, and power at work—and that we would trust him more.

“…take heart; I have overcome the world.” The same world that presents troubles to us is a world that has been overcome by Jesus in his resurrection. God tells us in Revelation 21:5: “Behold, I am making all things new.” That renewal of the world isn’t only a future event. It began when Jesus rose from the dead on Easter. He conquered not only death, but all of the rotten fruit that death brings: suffering, disease, hopelessness, misery, heartache.

We begin to see that victory in small ways as we cling to Jesus. Even in hard times, we often see the seeds of good and blessing at work. And even if we can’t see those seeds yet, it doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

Jesus calls us to share in his victory over death, and to be his instruments of making all things new in the here and now. Even if you find yourself now in the midst of challenging times, it is a comfort to realize that you are not alone. Jesus himself, the One who has conquered sin and death, and viruses and the suffering they bring, is with you. And he invites you to rest from the struggles of life in the embrace of his powerful and faithful love.