Why did Jesus die? (3-year-old theology)

Kids are amazing for questions! Of course, there is a resounding “why?” that pops up in every single conversation that we have about anything, but I’ve been struck by how many insightful questions my 3-year-old daughter has asked about God.

So I thought I’d go ahead and try to give an answer for some of these…

Why did Jesus die?

It was last Easter that I first remember having conversations with her about the death of Jesus on a cross. Obviously, explaining what death is in and of itself is difficult. But once she worked that out, and that Jesus died on a cross, her next question was not a surprising one: “Why did Jesus die?”

And what do I say? I mean, people write really long books on this. Even the short ones are called things like 50 reasons why Jesus came to die. That’s a SHORT book on this!

My answer to her was something like this: Jesus died for us. (this is the main idea she remembered) All of us have done the wrong thing—sometimes it’s disobeying mummy or daddy, sometimes it’s hurting other people, but we all hurt God by the things we do. Jesus was very kind, and died on a cross so that we don’t have to die. And because Jesus died for us, God made him come back to life again a few days later! Nobody else ever comes back to life, do they?

It’s still something we talk about from time to time. She’ll want to know again why Jesus died, or she’ll say something about it being sad that Jesus died on the cross (I always feel a bit heartbroken when she looks sad about that), and I can remind her that Jesus came back to life and that he’s saved us.

Of course, there’s much more you can say about why Jesus died. But I think this is a good start, and there are plenty of conversations ahead!


Malcolm Purdey is a Christian, husband, father, student minister and science nerd. He completed a PhD in Chemistry and worked as a research scientist before making the jump into ministry in early 2017. He has been married for 5 years and has two daughters aged 3 and 1.

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