Recently, I was reading the story of the crucifixion in the book of Mark when I recalled being a child in a classroom at a Sunday evening church service. The teacher was teaching about Pilate and Barabbas, and how the chief priests helped convince the people to let loose the criminal Barabbas over Jesus (Mark 15:11). That lesson has stood out in my mind decades years later. I still remember where I was sitting and how the teacher looked as she told the story. We should never underestimate what impact we have when we teach children. Some things we say will stick in minds forever.
My mind wandered to other classroom experiences. It seems like there’s an increase in the number of children who come in to our classrooms at church who have never heard a single Bible story or the name of Jesus. Just a few months ago, I stopped mid-lesson and went in a completely different direction because one little girl raised her hand and said, “Who’s Jesus?” She had never heard His name before. I took my flannel graph pieces down, and we learned about Jesus.
Another time, my mother was teaching a Sunday school class of children who were about 6-7 years old. She began telling a story about a miracle of Jesus. One child, put his hand over his mouth and gasped at something she said.
“You said a cuss word!” the child exclaimed.
This isn’t an uncommon misunderstanding when mentioning the word, “hell,” but she did not read anything about hell. My mother was perplexed and asked what word she said that he thought was a curse word.
“You said,” then he put his hands around his mouth and whispered in her ear, “Jesus Christ.”
I know she must have shuttered when she heard this. I remember how heartbroken she was after the service when she told me. That little boy had only ever heard the name of Jesus Christ while someone was yelling and swearing in anger. He had no idea that Jesus was the Son of God Who had died for His sins. He had no idea that the Bible was about Jesus Christ. He had been taught not to say that name because that is what people say when they are angry and curse, or are in shock. He had only ever heard Jesus’ name when it was taken in vain.
Today, I simply ask you, “Who is Jesus?” Who is He to you? If you teach children at church or have children of your own, who do you tell them that He is? What has He done for you? If you don’t teach children in your church, do you invite them or make them feel welcome when they come? We make such a big impact on little children. You may feel like they go away without learning much, but you are laying the ground work for greater understanding later. Sewing little seeds in those sometimes difficult or squirmy kids is vital.
“But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto Me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14.