I've been preparing for VBS, as most everyone in Children's Ministry must at this time of year. Often children's teachers feel that, because they teach such simple truths week after week, they miss getting fed themselves. I've felt that way. Teaching an adult Bible study allowed me to study and teach truths for where I was in life—probing deeply into issues I faced as a Christian adult. But children's teachers teach very basic material, and frankly, it often fails to challenge and feed like adult material would. But this VBS material creates a veritable feast for me to study. I've been forced to go back and forth through the gospels to see certain essential truths about Jesus. Sure, I've read them before, but as I prepare to teach children five basic truths about this person Jesus, I've put these essentials in order and in a few words. And as any writer knows, a few of the right words explode with a punch.
First, Jesus had eyewitnesses to His power and His position. From the moment He began His saving ministry, He was identified by the voice of God from heaven who called Him "My Beloved Son."
Second, He performed miracles that identified Him as more than a man. He commanded nature by calming waves (demonstrating power over planetary tides and forces we don't understand even today, like wind and storms) and making inanimate objects like bread and dead fish multiply. Try figuring out the physics of that—no natural phenomena can account for that! He proved He was God in all four gospels.
Third, He really and completely died on a cross. Pilate made sure of this by sending a top officer to confirm what any Roman soldier would know well—the difference between a dead man and a wounded man. Jesus died, as my mom would say, as dead as a doornail.
Fourth, He rose again, and His tomb was opened for inspection, in spite of guards posted to prevent any tampering. No one expected it. The disciples were 'scattered' and scared. The women brought spices expecting to find a decomposing body. His closest supporters had to be convinced of His resurrection. This is not the way myths or legends start. Jesus had predicted this, and it happened as He said it would.
Fifth, His disciples were radically changed by what they witnessed. They were willing to confront the same Jewish mob just 50 days later, not as fearful disciples, but as men sure of what they knew, and as men filled with the Holy Spirit. Their witness pierced the hearts of three thousand that Pentecost, birthing the same church which continues to this day--the one that has grafted into it you and me, that is, if you too believe this story and submit to this Jesus.
If you do, today is your independence day. It seemed more like Black Friday to the first disciples, but it's no wonder they call it by the name we now use–Good Friday.