America has lost focus on true meaning of Easter

Published 10:13 am Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter … what comes to mind?

The Easter Bunny naturally, then maybe a colorful basket of eggs and, of course, that ever-present, cavity-causing chocolate rabbit. (I always ate the ears first.)

And while all of these things have become staples to the American Easter, they have absolutely nothing to do with the event we are to be celebrating. We have become a nation that must get something in order to celebrate anything. Christmas we get gifts. The Fourth of July has become all about the barbecue. Even Memorial Day, when we are to honor those who have died in defense of our freedoms, has become about the first three-day weekend of the summer.

When it comes to Easter I truly believe that even the churches have it wrong. We celebrate Christmas for a month or two, and on Easter we feel it is sufficient to have a “sunrise service.” What sacrifice! We get up early to go to church and then come up with a lame excuse as to why we cannot make it to the regular worship service.

We need to wake up! I am going to share a secret with you: Everyone you know was born! Granted, Christ’s birth was miraculous, like no other. We should celebrate it. But there is only one man who ever walked this earth, died and rose from the dead to never die again. That man is Jesus of Nazareth. It was the Christ, my Savior, my Lord, my God. It is this fact that allows every Christian to claim to be “saved.” Yet, alas, we degrade it into a story about some magical bunny that can dye boiled chicken eggs.

The celebration in the church is known as Holy Week. It begins with Palm Sunday, traditionally the day that Jesus entered into Jerusalem. On the way there He predicted His own death, not once or twice but three times. He knew what He had come to do. He knew when it would happen. He knew as he rode into Jerusalem the pain He would suffer. He knew the betrayal he would feel. And yet we think that getting a palm frond and waving it about is a sufficient remembrance. That Wednesday is the day that Judas conspired with the Sanhedrin and betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. On Thursday Jesus had His last meal with the apostles.

I would like to take a moment and describe to you the “Last Supper.” Jesus sat with His disciples, knowing one would betray Him, one would deny Him, and all but one would scatter in fear upon His arrest. But as He sat there supping with them He loved them so much that instead of chastising them for their failures He showed them a way to stay close to Him after He left them.

Then came Friday, six hours that would change the world! After being beaten and hung upon the cross He showed His love and compassion for all of us as He stated, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” Then in a moment that still amazes me, He was alone as suddenly He cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

For the rest of the day Friday and all of Saturday, He lay in the grave, but then on Sunday morning the hope of every Christian was born. He arose! It is about much more than this singular event. In His resurrection we all have faith that death is not the end. We will one day rise just as He did. In Christ we have our hope of eternal life. In Christ we have the perfect sacrifice to complete the law of God, not do away with it. In His life we may all have life!

Easter … what comes to mind? That God loved all of us, so much that He left the glory of His throne in heaven to be the perfect payment for our sin that we can one day stand before Him again and hear, “Well done, enter into the kingdom.”