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CarSeat Questions Podcast

April 03, 2024

Was Jesus Really Dead? The Real Reason for Easter with Dr. Preston Hill

If you’ve been a Christian parent for a long time, you may have received some questions from your kids about the miracles of Jesus - how he walked on water, how he turned water into wine, etc. But what about the ultimate miracle? The Resurrection. How can we communicate the weight and magnitude of the Resurrection with our kids? How can we share the hope of Easter with them? Tune in to this week’s episode of CarSeat Questions with an episode all about how to answer these questions for your kids. 

Preston Hill (PhD, MLitt, University of St Andrews) is Assistant Professor of Integrative Theology at Richmont Graduate University, where he serves as the Chair of Integration and Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program. His doctoral research offers the first book-length study of Christ’s descent into hell in the theology of John Calvin. His current research focuses on reformation theology, science, trauma, and mental health. His latest publications include Dawn of Sunday: The Trinity and Trauma-Safe Church (Cascade, 2021), and a forthcoming volume entitled Christ and Trauma: Theology East of Eden (Cascade). Preston is a clinical pastoral therapist under supervision and ordinand in the Anglican tradition.


*Transcripts are autogenerated and may have some errors

Lauren: You're listening to Car Seat Questions, a podcast for parents of curious kids. I'm Lauren and I'm Eddie.

Eddie: And if you're anything like us, you either have a kid or you care for a kid with questions. Questions about all sorts of things.

Lauren: And if you have a kid with questions, you yourself probably have questions like, how do I engage my child on hard topics in a way that is honoring to God and digestible for developing brain and a childlike spirit?

Eddie: If that's you too, we're glad you're here. We don't have all the answers, and we won't pretend like we do, but we are grateful to know some really smart, godly people whose expertise is in the hearts, minds and souls of little ones growing up in today's world.

Lauren: So for the next half hour, hop into the passenger seat, buckle your belt, and become childlike with us as the Lord takes us where he wants us to go.

Eddie: Enjoy the show.

Lauren: Welcome back to season three of Car Seat Questions if you are didn't join us last week. We have babies with us.

Eddie: So our children are real.

Lauren: Uh, babysitter gone. So now they're with us for this episode. Um, but if you didn't join with us last week, we talked about the crucifixion with Doctor Preston Hill. But this week, we're going to be talking about the resurrection. So you probably really want to go back and listen to last week first, because it's going to jump off of a conversation that we had about the crucifixion. So be sure to go back, listen to that, and then come back to this episode. We're joined today by Doctor Preston Hill. Hi, Preston. Hi. For joining us again. Um, maybe someone didn't listen to last week, and they're like, you know what, Lauren? That's stupid. I'm not going to go listen to next week or last week. Whatever. Can you give us a brief, quick? Who are you? What do you do? Tell us about your family.

Dr. Preston Hill: Yes. Uh, Preston. Uh, my family, Chesney is my wife, and we have two kids, uh, four and two, Leti and Nyssa. So we are familiar in real time with car seat questions about intense tense, the intense questions kids ask. And, um, I'm a professor at Richmond Graduate University. I teach most of my time. I spent teaching theology to therapists. So I live in the world of theology and psychology. And, um, a lot of the questions of like, Who is God and how do humans flourish? Yeah.

Lauren: Well, last week we talked about the crucifixion of Jesus. Went through a lot of deep questions, good questions. And how do we talk about not not, you know, like the gruesome facts of Jesus's crucifixion, but like the why and the how? Um, but this week we want to discuss the resurrection of Jesus and the why and the how of that. So kind of to just get started here. Why did Jesus stay in the tomb for three days? What's the significance of that? Is there a significance to three or is it just, you know, random?

Dr. Preston Hill: Mhm.

Dr. Preston Hill: Well, none of us, like no human, really likes to think that anything's random. Um, and it seems like like in Scripture, it's not random. Um. But I do want to acknowledge that given last week and thinking about this week, I was just thinking about how especially when you ask, like, why did Jesus stay in the tomb? If a child asks that, that's a pretty direct question about death. And last week, like some of the questions were, why did they kill Jesus? Um, so I just do want to acknowledge, I think a lot of parents may have fear around. There are a lot of topics that parents are afraid of to talk about with their kids. And unfortunately, sometimes those topics are like directly raised by like, fundamental Christian stuff, fundamental stuff of our spiritual lives. And, um, the thing about kids is they are just they haven't learned the rules. They haven't learned like what's appropriate or not appropriate to talk about. And they're better for it most of the time because sometimes we get in our own way. So I think one thing I do just want to say is, and this is just me putting on my, like, psychology therapist hat, um. Which I think a lot of parents try to know what's best for their kids in terms of what they ask. Um, better than like, better than their kids. Their kids do, like a lot of times if if a typical psychologist answer to this is like, if a child asks you something, they're ready. Hmm. Um, so you shouldn't try to wait for your child to be ready if they ask you about death. They want to know, and you can talk to them about it. So just let your kids curiosity be the guide for what topics you start engaging. But I was just saying that thinking about this question like, why did Jesus stay in the tomb? Like child's asking about why did Jesus stay dead? Mhm. Like that's a very brute way to say the same thing. Um, I mean obviously the technical answer or the like the, the non, the non kid curated answer is Jesus predicted his death. He predicted that he would stay in the tomb in the ground. He would stay dead for three days and rise again. Um, and there's all sorts of significance to this that Christians have talked about in different ways. Um, but I think, like what we're talking about here is Holy Saturday. What we're talking about is the Christian idea that Jesus descended into hell. Mhm. Um, that's already like even adults don't know how to answer that question. Yeah. So how do you talk about it to a child. But I think the one thing that all Christians a lot of times have wanted to agree on is. That, um. Jesus. Jesus stayed in the tomb for three days. Because Jesus died and Jesus didn't die in a way that's different from how every other human dies. Whenever we die, we don't just die and instantly resurrect. Like we stay in the ground. We we stay buried. Christians, like people get buried. And Jesus and his death, his joining us in our death, was willing to be buried. Yeah. So it's that back to that idea of God's willing to. We talked about this in the last episode. God's willing to self empty to like God is so humble with us. He's so willing to be with us in whatever our actual world is like. But our actual world is a world not just of death, but of burial. Yeah. Um, so I think, how do you say this to a child? I think I'd say something like. Jesus stayed buried because he wants you to know that whatever happens after, after, after you die or after someone you love dies. God. God will be there with you because Jesus has been there. I think that's a really profound, meaningful, true thing to say. All right.

Eddie: Bible student Braden again interjecting here. So do I. Is it oftentimes debated? Or I mean, I know it's thought about, but it's probably debated as to, you know, where did Jesus go after he died? You know, what was he doing in the in between? Um, and again, we don't need to. Go really in-depth. But I mean, again, if if the child is at a place where their understanding the concept of death, right? And as us as believers think that, you know, we believe that we, um, get to meet our creator right once, like once we die. And you know what? What what could be a explanation of where Jesus went? Yeah. After he died.

Dr. Preston Hill: Yeah. People do. Christians and theologians do talk about that. And I can imagine a kid saying that, like, where did Jesus go when he died? And you say to the child, well, he was in the tomb. They say, yeah, I know that, but where was he? And kids don't know how profound they are. They're making a body soul distinction. Like, just like intuitively, they're just like, I know his body was there, but where was he? Um. And, you know, the classic Christian answer is, yeah, of course, his his body was in the tomb, but his soul, his his, his him, him this as a human, uh, was throwing, throwing its weight down in hell, purging hell, delivering Old Testament saints, conquering the devil, ascending back up to God to be in Paradise. You know, with the thief you'll be today. You'll be with me in Paradise. So it's this. Like Jesus was conquering death and the devil and hell and carrying all of us up into the presence of God. Um, that's like a classic thing. So, uh, to wonder, like, I think I think there's probably a way to say that to a kid, but yeah, I think that's a really important point, a really important question that, um, you know, like, people have different answers, but generally speaking, in the Christian tradition, like theologians across different denominations have wanted to say. Yeah. Jesus descended. Whatever, whatever. Being in the tomb. Like what happens after you die? Well, we get buried. Is there anything more than that? Yeah, there's a lot more than that. Whatever that extra stuff was, Jesus went there and dealt with it for us. And a really powerful way is to say, like when he died, he entered into the presence of God so that when we die, we can enter into the presence of God.

Lauren: Yeah.

Lauren: Yeah. We talk about how he defeated death, but what does that mean?

Lauren: Yeah.

Lauren: Yeah. I think a lot of.

Lauren: Times.

Lauren: We're not going to get in the weeds. A lot of times we are what we are.

Lauren: But. Well.

Eddie: How can you. Oh sorry.

Lauren: People just want to just want to like, take that out.

Eddie: How can you not. It's just again, it's like it's like one of those things where it's. The service. Answers are great, right? And they have their place. But then there's like times where you study the word more and you get more in depth, which the more that we as believers study the word and we grow closer to Christ, we continue to understand the word different, and we continue to ask the harder questions because we're understanding these, um, these truths or these ideas more profoundly. And, um, again, like surface answers, they have their place and I understand that, but some but there's going to come a time where you're going to have harder questions to ask. And sometimes you may be in a community where you're not be not be able to ask them because of the, you know, where everyone is in their walk, you know. And so I think for where we are now, I think this is a good place to sometimes like ask these questions because somebody else who's listening right now or who's watching might have the same questions, you know, as we uh, as we discussed these different things. So, yeah. Things okay to get I think it's okay to get in the weeds. I don't think we've done it all that often. So, uh, I think it's okay. Yeah.

Lauren: So we know that he died and he was in the tomb for three days, and then he is resurrected, and then he goes about his day and he runs into some pals and they're like, who are you? How how is it what happened in the tomb that he all of a sudden his friends who have been with him for years, don't know who he is.

Dr. Preston Hill: It's such an awesome question because it's literally a question New Testament scholars like geek out about, like, and different ideas about why and how and what's going on. But yeah, Jesus, Jesus resurrects he, you know. He steps out of the tomb. He appears like. First of all, he appears, and prior to his death, he didn't appear to anyone. He just like there's something different. He's different now. Like that's what the the way the New Testament talks is like. It's the New Testament talks about the resurrected body of Jesus as if he's on the border of two realities, as if he's like glitching back and forth between this world and some other world that he's like forcing to collide with this world. And in the scriptures, this is like the kingdom of God coming back down, intersecting again with the world. And it's very mysterious. Like people don't recognize him until he does something that makes them recognize him. Um, and there's this it is very mysterious. And you have to ask, what's going on? Why is that? Um, I mean, there's so many fun ways you can describe this to a child. You can, like, talk if you if you're a dad and you've got a beard, you could shave your beard and say, you know, the child is like, I didn't recognize you. Yeah. It's possible to be, like, familiar with someone. And then you encounter them in another setting and you just don't. You didn't recognize them at first, but then you you recognize them and that people's appearance change. Like you can describe how you know how you dress up sometimes and you look different and you can describe I think there's ways you can describe to children the idea of when someone is made more glorious. It takes a minute to take them in and to recognize them that this is the same person. And you just say to kids, he was resurrected. He was so beautiful. His his body, he was so such a beautiful human, like a beautiful person, that people had to stop and look at him, to really recognize him and remember this is the same Jesus as before, and they just didn't recognize him because resurrection bodies are so full of beauty and glory. It's it's hard to see them with the eyes we have right now.

Lauren: It's good.

Lauren: Like, you know, sometimes, uh, mommy doesn't look the same when she's at home doing laundry as to when she goes to a wedding or to an event. Yes.

Eddie: The daddy she does.

Lauren: Um. So dumb. That was a good one. Uh. Got me. Yeah.

Lauren: What are you gonna say?

Eddie: Um, what I found what I find interesting about this question, um. Is that. Um, in some, um, passages. Some people were scared when they saw Jesus. Right. Which. And it's not like the the horrific. Oh my gosh, you look ugly. Scared. It was the fact that he. Appear to.

Lauren: Them.

Eddie: You know. And then what I also find interesting about that, too, is that Jesus talked about this like he said he was going to do this, you know, and people were still still caught off guard as if they didn't know. This is going to happen, you know, and which that, that almost kind of like translates like today. Like there's so many things that are said in the Word of God that are happening or that would say what happened to us in our lives. And yet we still, you know, kind of find it hard to believe that certain things happen to us.

Lauren: Mhm.

Dr. Preston Hill: Um, when you say that, it makes me think of when we went to Disney World and Letty was three and we stood in line to see the princesses, and if you know Letty, you know, she's spirited and not afraid to say what she wants. And she's loud. And I have never, never in my life seen Letty so docile as when we were. She was standing before the presence of like God. You would have thought because of how she looked at this. I don't even remember which princess it was. Uh, but standing before this princess and the princess is like. Like come, like hold my hand and let. It was just like. Like eyes wide open, trembling, stepping foot. But like this, like the idea is so sweet. And the idea of being, being almost, almost a little bit scared in the presence of something so beautiful. I think kids can understand that. Um, so I love that.

Eddie: So then why do you think we need to believe in the resurrection? And I'm not asking this for me. I'm asking if, you know, if a kid was. If a kid was, ask.

Eddie: Sorry.

Eddie: This is just how our copy is written. Um, yeah. So, like, why is believing in the resurrection so important?

Lauren: Yeah, like, maybe we believe in the crucifixion, but I don't want to believe in the resurrection. Like, what's the consequences of that?

Dr. Preston Hill: Yeah.

Dr. Preston Hill: Well, Eddie, I am I am really concerned for you. I think we do need to talk about the resurrect.

Eddie: Yeah, yeah.

Dr. Preston Hill: Uh, no, I totally get it. Um. The resurrection. Why is the resurrection important? I mean, it's not a bad question. It's a really great Christian question because Paul asks it. So I feel like if Paul asks it, we should be allowed to ask it. Um. Like if Jesus didn't rise. Like Paul's so clear. Our faith is in vain. If Jesus didn't rise like this. This has always been the thing for Christians that Jesus rose from the dead and. Um, something. And this is a distinction. I don't know if we really want to. Maybe this is too in the weeds for a child, but there is like this old Christian distinction between resurrection and resuscitation or revivify creation. Like to say that Jesus rose from the dead is not to say that he came back to his old life. It wasn't backward. It was forward. He went. He rose again to a new kind of life. You know, the way that the New Testament talks about it is that because Jesus rose from the dead, all creation is now safe. Like we are safe. All of creation is safe. Our future is guaranteed. Uh, because Jesus rose from the dead, death is no longer no longer the final thing. There's something that comes after death. And I think this is an important point because a lot of Christians even don't understand this. They talk about the resurrection as if Jesus just came back to his same old life as before, which actually isn't that extraordinary. Lazarus did that. Um, we have people today who are declared medically dead, and they come back and talk about what they saw. And we're not saying that's what happened to Jesus. We're not saying Jesus, Jesus. This is the difference between Lazarus and all those other people and Jesus. Lazarus died a second time after he rose from the dead. Um, all these people who die come back, write their book about how many minutes they were in heaven or whatever. They die again. But Jesus didn't go backward. He went forward. He he wasn't resuscitated. He was resurrected. And his forward movement means that he can never die again. That's what it says in revelation. Like I'm the one who can never die. And so, like, why do we want kids to believe in the resurrection? Why is the resurrection important? Because we want our kids to know that death isn't the final word after you die. Uh. Your life. Your life is safe in the hands of God forever. Uh, no matter what. No matter when or how or if you die. So why is the resurrection important? How do you say this to a kid? I would say, um, the resurrection is important because, uh. Jesus raised God from the dead and that means, um, God. Anyone who is friends with Jesus is safe forever. That's. I would say something like that. Yeah.

Lauren: If there was one thing that you wanted kids to know, you're having this conversation with them, one thing you want to make sure they walk away with about the resurrection. What's that one thing?

Dr. Preston Hill: Um. God's love is stronger than than anything that you could ever be scared of.

Lauren: Mhm. That's good.

Lauren: Thanks for sharing that with us. And thank you for sharing all your wisdom with us and handling this topic and how we how we can talk about it with our kids and make it more understandable for younger kids. And obviously and as time goes on, you get deeper as your kids get older and you explain more and going more in depth. But for younger kids like yours and like ours, this is like a really great place to start. And they can understand some things and they can, um, learn about the resurrection and like last week, the crucifixion and understand even in their own way. So thanks for sharing with us and sharing your wisdom with us.

Dr. Preston Hill: You're welcome. I think it's also okay to say like kids, kids actually really love when we're humble to and we say, I actually don't know. I don't know the answer to this question, but I want to find out with you.

Lauren: Yeah. That's true.

Eddie: It usually stops them from asking more questions.

Eddie: Like.

Lauren: Okay, well, what good are you?

Lauren: Yeah. Uh, yeah.

Lauren: Well, before we close, Eddie, for you to close us with the benediction.

Lauren: Yeah.

Eddie: Alice, are you gonna pray with us? No need to be quiet, okay? All right. Would you please join us? To him who was able to do far more than we can understand. May he give us the wisdom to raise our children, to first love God above all else, and love others as themselves.

Lauren: Go in peace.

Eddie: That is Ellis saying.

Lauren: That was saying Amen. So for our listeners, be sure to subscribe. Be sure to subscribe and check back next week. Every Wednesday episodes drop, so check your podcast app of choice and rate and review for Ellis's screams.

Lauren: Only five stars for Ellis's screams . Bye bye.

Stay Connected


Eddie Cuevas

Eddie Cuevas was born and raised in the inner city of Chicago and is an alumnus of The Moody Bible Institute. Eddie and his wife Lauren both met at MBI, and now live in the western suburbs of Chicago with their 2-year-old son. Eddie serves as the Contracts and Subsidiary Rights Manager for Moody Publishers and continues to have a strong partnership with MBI. Eddie will tell you that he is a devout Chicago sports fan (except for the Cubs), a musician who is currently a member of a chamber choir in Chicago, and enjoys modern board gaming…oh, and enjoys spending time with his son of course.  


Lauren Cuevas

Lauren Cuevas is a radio producer by day, TikTok and ice cream enthusiast by night. Lauren spends her days producing Mornings with Brian on Moody Radio Cleveland and enjoys the evenings with her husband Eddie and son, Trey. On an evening alone you can find her watching 80's movies or binging the next true crime podcast. Lauren is an alumna of Moody Bible Institute and lives in the Chicago suburbs.

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CarSeat Questions

Has your child ever asked you a BIG question? One of those questions that makes YOU think? If that's you, you're not alone! Kids are curious, and they have questions...questions about all sorts of things. This is Car Seat Questions - a podcast for parents of curious kids. Each episode is designed to help you answer your kids' questions in a Biblically sound and age appropriate way - to encourage their curiosity and consider their childlike spirit.

New episodes release every Wednesday.