‘Dad, did baby Jesus cry?’ — 3 ways to teach your children great theological truths this Christmas

The Adoration of the Shepherds (Gerard van Honthorst), 1622.

The Adoration of the Shepherds (Gerard van Honthorst), 1622.

Kids have a way of asking questions we adults have never pondered.

Once, my inquisitive son was reading a science book and looked up at me with a puzzled look.

“Dad, are there germs on germs?”

I was confused, and he knew it.

“Yeah,” he continued. “There are germs on us. But are there germs on those germs, and then germs on those other germs, then germs on those germs?”

Maybe he was hoping that all those germs would duke it out in a battle royal and kill one another – and we’d never get sick.

Honestly, I’m still not sure what the answer is.

But the other night he asked me a relatively easy one.

“Dad, did baby Jesus cry?”

“Of course,” I responded.

“Huh?” he replied, sort of shocked.

“All babies cry, because that’s how they communicate,” I said. “And it’s not a sin for a baby to cry.”

He had been singing “Away In A Manger,” a wonderful Christmas tune that has the unfortunate lyric concerning the Christ Child: “No crying he made.”

Christmas is a wonderful time of the year to reinforce the Gospel to our children, simply because everyone they know – their friends, their teachers, their neighbors – is celebrating it. In other words, our children can’t go anywhere without being reminded of Christmas, even if it is a sanitized, secular version.

But we don’t have to battle the local box store to put “Christ back into Christmas.” We can do that in our homes, beginning by what we tell our kids about Jesus.

Here’s three ways parents can teach their children deep theological truths about Christ this season, using simple language:

1. Teach them about the humanity of Christ. There are numerous ways to do this. My 2-year-old twins can tell you how Jesus once was their size, and then their 6-year-old brother’s size, and then daddy’s size. Sure, they skipped a lot of years there, but they realize the little baby in the manger didn’t stay little. He grew. Other times, I’ll ask them: Do you think Jesus played with his friends? Chased his friends? Laughed? Cried? The answer to all of those is “yes,” because all kids do those things, and none of those actions are sinful. We can be creative here while staying biblical.

2. Teach them about the deity of Christ. When my oldest son was 5, I told him that Jesus always obeyed His mom and dad. “There’s no way I’m ever going to believe that,” he responded. So we had a good, fruitful discussion: Was Jesus God? (Yes.) Is it a sin not to obey your parents? (Yes.) Can God sin? (No.) Soon, he was convinced. By learning about the deity of Christ, our kids can better appreciate the holiness of God, the sinfulness of man, and the necessity of the Christ’s death and resurrection. We teach our children that Jesus was the Son of God and was God – that Mary literally was holding the very Being that had created her. Augustine (354-430) put it this way: “He was created of a mother whom He created. He was carried by hands that He formed. He cried in the manger in wordless infancy, He the Word, without whom all human eloquence is mute.”

3. Teach them about the love of Christ. Everyone enjoys singing about that little baby, but not everyone wants to ponder the reason He came to this Earth: to die for our sins. Before Jesus was even born — as 19th century British preacher Charles Spurgeon once said – He had determined He would “pay blood for blood, wound for wound, suffering for suffering, agony for agony, and death for death” — all on “behalf of his people.” In other words, that little baby grew up to receive the punishment we deserved. That was His primary earthly mission. And that’s a sacrificial love that every child can understand. My youngest son is still learning to talk, but He enjoys telling me how Jesus died for his sister’s sins, his brother’s sins, his mommy’s sins, his daddy’s sins and his sins.

Of course, we can teach our children about Christ any time of the year. But during Christmas, it’s a bit easier.

Michael Foust is an editor and writer who blogs about parenting and fatherhood. He loves his family and also really likes stove top popcorn. Interested in re-posting this in your publication or on your blog for free? Send me a message in the comments section below (the message won’t go public). Also, check out my video section

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