Do you remember getting up Easter morning and finding that basket of goodness waiting for you? My Easter basket was always at the entrance to our living room. Probably like most kids, I was ecstatic. I would take everything out and examine it, and then put everything back. Finally, I would make my selection on what I would try first. As a kid, having grown up watching Bugs Bunny cartoons, a mystical rabbit delivering that basket as I slept wasn’t too far of a stretch for me to believe. But as I grew older, and the relevance of the holiday came into focus, I quickly moved away from this secular tradition and onto the real celebration of events behind the day.
Oh don’t get me wrong; when my son came along, I had a little fun with the Easter bunny again. But as he grew older, we quickly let that aspect of Easter fade into the background. Today, I am a little saddened by the wealth of commercialism that has taken over both Christmas and Easter. Kids now days get their picture taken with both Santa and the Easter bunny. But my soul longs to sing out above this noise and reflect on the true glory of it all.
Can you imagine that first Easter morning? Just three days earlier, Christ’s followers had witnessed his brutal and gory execution on the Cross. That scene etched in their minds forevermore. How bloodstained the ground around him must have been as the blood dripped from His beaten and broken body. How many tears must have flowed in those 72 hours.
And all his acquaintance and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things. Luke 23:49
I have to tell you, the first time I saw the Passion of the Christ in a local theater; I almost became violently ill as I watched how He was beaten and whipped, and then nailed to that cross. When I watched it again in my home a few years later, my stomach begin to turn again. But sitting and watching a movie doesn’t even start to compare to how it must have been to be there and hear all the sounds, see the disfigurement, and smell death in the air.
I say all this because it is so important to remember the mood of the disciples, and the women who traveled with them, just prior to that Sunday morning. Probably no time in their entire life had they experienced such deep emotional turmoil. We cannot begin to understand the depth of their anguish as they contemplated what the future might hold.
I know you remember that little children’s rhyme regarding sticks and stones. It went something like this:
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.
I think we would all agree, that phrasing certainly helped us in some tough situations to look strong, but its wording is entirely untrue. I believe Christ felt it all during his trail and crucifixion. Certainly, the physical abuse left its mark, but the emotional cuts were no better. Don’t misunderstand, I know He was above the insults thrown at Him because He knew who He was; but the hatred that was behind them must have saddened Him deeply.
Yet, as final as the Cross may have seemed, we must remember it was only made of wood. Though our Savior hung on it, He was not bound by its power. He remained on the Cross in His own power to pay for our sins once and for all. Death was imminent, but victory was just around the corner!
“…But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Matthew 26:64
As Christians today, knowing the outcome of those events, I believe the most amusing thing about the Easter story is the placement of the stone in front of Jesus’ grave. Here were men, who had just roughed up Jesus to the point of being unrecognizable and who had physically nailed Him to a cross, using the biggest, heaviest stone they could find to seal the tomb of a corpse (or so they thought). And then, to seal the deal, not a few soldiers, but many soldiers were placed outside the grave to guard it.
The irony is astounding!
But the good news of Easter is that no stone on earth was going to hold Him in that grave. HE AROSE! And without an ounce of effort, the angels rolled that pebble from in front of the grave to prove it.
And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him.” Mark 16:5-6
Let’s do a happy dance right now!!!
Oh, how joyful the disciples, both man and woman, must have been once it all sank in days to weeks later. And that joy has been carrying us for over 2000 years!!!
This Easter, among the festivities, food, and family; take some time to remember the real meaning of it all. HE IS ALIVE! Death has been conquered. Our sins have been atoned for forever. And He is coming back for us!