The Garden, the Curtain and the Cross
Written by Carl Laferton
Illustrated by Catalina Echeverri
Published by The Good Book for Children, 2016
“God says it is wonderful to live with him. Because of your sin, you can’t come in. BUT I died on the cross to take your sin...So all my friends CAN now come in!”
What amazing truths that we, as Christians, live by! This is not a quote from a theology textbook but from a children’s book about the true story of why Jesus died and rose again. I was drawn at first to its beautiful illustrations and the way it tied the Old and New Testaments together in the life of Jesus. However, I did not anticipate the impact it would have on our son or how it would help us in everyday life to point him to Jesus.
The book starts in the beautiful garden of Eden, where it was wonderful to live with God. But then sin spoils things, meaning that people can’t live with God any more. The author simply explains that, despite this, God wanted to live with his people, and so builds the temple. However, just like the angels with swords at the entrance to the garden, the temple has a curtain which was a big “KEEP OUT sign”. Jesus is then sent by God to open up the way back to God’s wonderful place. Through his sad but planned death on the cross, something amazing happens - the ‘KEEP OUT sign’ (the temple curtain) is ripped! God’s wonderful place is open again! In retelling Jesus’ resurrection, the story concludes as he ascends to heaven and sends everyone the invitation: “God says it is wonderful to live with him. Because of your sin, you can’t come in. BUT I died on the cross to take your sin...So all my friends CAN now come in!”
This book is a really powerful and age appropriate tool for teaching kids the gospel. We have been amazed at the way in which it has succeeded in condensing complex biblical ideas like sin, holiness, separation from God, eschatology and restoration into a compelling and accessible story for both kids and adults. The above quote is rhythmically repeated and built upon as you move through the story, which is great fun for kids to say along with you. After reading this book, we were walking to church when our 2 year old son pointed out the cross on the church and recited the above quote. He followed up with “Why isn’t Jesus on the cross anymore?” Wow! Drawing on the book, we were able to help him understand that Jesus was raised to life, lives in heaven and is inviting us all to join him there. More recently, we used it to talk about what happens to Jesus’ friends when they die.
It has been awesome for me to read and reflect on the wonders of salvation, but even more so to see my son grow in knowledge and understanding of these wonderful truths at such a young age!