Plastic eggs, full of candy. New clothes, pressed and hung up. Chocolate bunnies, sitting in baskets. Stuffed bunnies, soft and cuddly. Real eggs, dyed in bright colors. Sugar cookies, iced and sprinkled. Happy thoughts...bright colors...new growth. These are the things we like to think about. We don't want to dwell on the painful week that Jesus endured for our sake.
I love spring and Easter! It has been a rough year for a number of reasons, so the thought of new life and the gift of Jesus and His resurrection meant more than usual to me this year. I signed onto Facebook excited to be in touch with so many old friends and eager to wish them a happy Easter. I was saddened to see so many crying out, "Bring on the chocolate!" or something similar. The most important holiday--even more important than Christmas--it is the foundation of our entire faith. Paul basically tells us that without the resurrection, our entire faith is in vain.
Jesus' resurrection makes life worth living. Without it, we are doomed to eternity in hell, complete separation from God. Not only did Jesus tolerate unbelievable physical torture, but His spiritual grief was beyond anything anyone could even think about enduring. He accepted the sin of the world on Himself...His holy self. The sin of the world! I can't even bear myown sin let alone anyone else's.
Three days later, he rose! Sometimes I try to think about those three days. You know, from the disciples' perspective. We've read the book...we know what happens. They didn't. Those had to be the worst and longest days in the history of the world. Jonah spent three days in the belly of a big fish (eewww!), but I think this would be even worse. They walked and talked with the Messiah...their Lord...their savior. Three years of hope and a friendship with God's Son. God's son! But that's over...He's dead. He's not who we thought...or so they thought. Talk about despair and hopelessness. Then...to realize He's not in that grave...in fact, He was right there with them. Can you possibly imagine the joy? Forgiveness, wholeness...all there for the taking. The relief, the hope, the ecstacy! Death conquered, eternity with Him and the Father. I can hardly wait. I don't think many people (even Christians) "get it."
I love going to church anyway, but Easter is special. God said make a "joyful noise," and trust me, I do that with all my heart! It's a good thing He doesn't give qualifiers on the quality of that joyful noise! In the meantime, God's people are giving praise all over the globe. Can you imagine what that is to God's ears? God is in heaven listening to His children. Different songs, different styles of worship, different languages, cultures, and tradtions...but the one thing that brings us together is our family...specifically our heavenly Father and His son who have adopted us all into the fam. One of the main things Jesus practically begged of God in the Garden of Gethsemane was unity among the believers. Sunday mornings across the globe bring some of that into light. Can you imagine what heaven will be like?
Chocolate, dyed eggs, new clothes, and egg hunts are all fun. And what better day for laughter and fun? But it's so much MORE than that. Think about the tears and laughter in that room full of followers after Jesus appeared to them. After a moment or two of stunned silence, everyone probably started speaking at once:
"Did you see Him?"
"I'm not dreaming this, am I? And if I am, DON'T wake me."
"Did you see the scars...the wounds?"
"I wanted to just throw my arms around Him, but I couldn't move."
"Did you say anything? I couldn't"
"When will we see him again?"
"Peter, tell us about the tomb again...and the rock. Give all the details!"
I want to be there. I want to be a part of that joy. Such pure, unstained joy at seeing my savior face to face when I thought He was dead. I want to laugh and cry at the same time. I want my heart to overflow and feel overwhelmed. I want to hear Jesus say my name, in a voice that tells me He knows me...really knows me. I want to see pure love in the pools of His eyes. And I want Him to touch me...to feel skin on skin, to feel the shiver in my very soul when He does touch me.
That will happen eventually, and in the meantime, I can go to church and have the next best thing...become surrounded by His children, my brothers and sisters. How can I think of chocolate at a time like this? My Easter stash is gone now, but I feel even more blessed than before. Life is hard...God is good.