Here is how the conversation went (I preface this by saying it wasn't prompted by me in any way):
Lucas: Mommy, can we go to Hell?
Me: No, Buddy. Hell is a very bad place. We don't want to go there.
Somehow, in our past conversations, Lucas has associated Jesus dying on the cross with Hell (not exactly an inaccurate association...)
Lucas: Mommy, can we go see the cross?
Me: I don't think so. It was far, far away, and it happened a long time ago.
Lucas: Did he die for our bad things?
Me: Yes he did. And we are supposed to tell Jesus we are sorry for doing bad things and ask him to forgive us for our bad things.
Lucas: What are the bad things that I do?
Me: Well, bad things could be hitting someone, or taking something away from them, or not obeying, or saying something that isn't true (another concept we've been working on lately).
Lucas: Oh... Mommy, can you call Jesus on your phone?
Me: No, Bud. I can't. Jesus doesn't use a phone.
Lucas: But I need you to call Jesus on the phone so I can talk to him.
Me: Jesus doesn't use a phone. When we want to talk to him, we pray. He can hear us when we talk to him... we can even think our prayer to him, and he can hear us. Isn't that cool?
Lucas: But will Jesus talk to me?
Me: Yes, Jesus can talk back to you. You might not hear him say words, but sometimes you feel different or something happens that means he is talking to you.
Lucas: Okay, Mommy. Let's pray. (He folds his little hands... I figured he was just going to say his normal little prayer of saying thank you for a toy or a friend) Jesus, Thank you for being on the cross. I'm sorry for doing the bad things. Please will you forgive me? Amen.
How could I respond? I had tears pouring out of my eyes, and I was so choked up. Before I could formulate a response, he was off on a totally different tangent. I have no idea how much he really understood (I mean, he won't even be 3 until next week), but I think a seed has definitely been planted, and the Lord is definitely reaching him!
Later, at bedtime, I told Lucas that I was so happy that he talked to Jesus about being sorry for his sins. He hugged me and very quietly said, "Mommy, Jesus talked back to me. He talked to me in my head."
Me: Really? What did he say?
Lucas: Umm.. he told me, "I forgive you, Lucas."
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
build up the walls of Jerusalem;
then will you delight in right sacrifices,
in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.
Psalm 51 ESV
To the choirmaster.
A Psalm of David,
when Nathan the prophet went to him,
after he had gone in to Bathsheba.