Today I was talking with some 3rd and 4th graders who told me that Easter was all about Jesus dying. I shocked them when I said, "No, that's not what Easter is all about." They wanted to know what I meant.
I reminded them that when Jesus died there were two men hanging on crosses on either side of Him. Both of these men were being crucified for the crime of robbery. They all three died that day so long ago, but only one of the three became the Savior of the world.
Jesus did have to live a perfect life to qualify Him to die. Otherwise He would have died for His own sin just like the two thieves who died that day.
John the Baptist proclaimed three years before that terrible, awful day outside Jerusalem approximately 1980 years ago: "See the Lamb of God who comes to take away the sin of the world." (John 1:29) He spoke about Jesus.
Jesus died to demonstrate how seriously God takes "mercy rather than sacrifice" (Hosea 6:6). Jesus' death proved God's value of mercy over sacrifice because God extends His mercy toward us at the cost of the life of His only Son, Jesus.
Jesus said, "Go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." (Matt. 9:13)
Jesus' death rendered all other sacrifices unnecessary forever!
On the cross Jesus cried, "It is finished!" (John 19:30) The sacrifice was and is complete!
However, one more thing had to happen in order to validate the death Jesus died. Two thieves also died that day. The dying wasn't where the power to change hearts comes from. Jesus came back to life on the first Easter Sunday morning to PROVE for all the world to see that He conquered sin and death. He alone can take my sin and shame and do something that matters! That goes for you and your heart, too!
AND that's basically what I explained to my 3rd and 4th grade friends. I think they "got it"!