Saturday, April 19, 2014

Not about a bunny...But not really about a cross either...

It's Easter weekend. I've been thinking about what that really means lately. We tend to associate Easter with a bunny, eggs, chocolate and spring candy. But I think that we all know one thing. That's not the meaning of Easter. But what is? Because I think that many of us have it wrong.

Some might say that Easter is about the Spring Equinox. Some say that it is actually a pagan holiday celebrating fertility. Others may say that it is just a time to welcome in spring. A time of renewal and rebirth. Some think it means nothing at all.

Christians. What do we say about Easter? I am going to suggest something that might sound slightly unusual, but hear me out. We tend to wrap the meaning of Easter up around the cross. But I suggest that if the cross becomes the center of Easter than we too have missed the point.

This week that we call Holy week, when Jesus intentionally made His way to Jerusalem to be put to death on our behalf, is very important. Scripture details many things that happened...The final supper...The betrayal of Judas...Peter's denial...The release of a known criminal...So many events that led to the beating and crucifixion of Jesus.

But that was Friday. And Jesus was not the first to be crucified. In fact, I've read that Romans were not even the ones to invent crucifixion. They may have "perfected" it (found ways to make it more painful and take longer to die), but they did not invent it. The fact that Jesus died on that cross is important but it is not the most significant nor should it be our focal point this Easter.

So it's not a bunny rabbit. Not a pagan goddess. Not about spring. And it is not about the cross. So what is Easter about? It's about what happened after Jesus quoted his victory speech. It was a short speech. But it was packed with power and loaded with a punch. After nearly six agonizing hours of (yes, the Son of God felt pain) pain on that cross, Jesus said "It is finished". And he allowed Himself to die. He stopped pulling Himself up and sank down to the point where His ribs crushed His lungs and He suffocated. Many may not realize it, but that was usually the cause of death in crucifixion.

Yet His words "It is finished" were not to say that His mission was ending. In fact, it was just beginning. With those words He conquered the power of death. His life is not what was finished. Death is what was finished. And this was just the beginning.

Again...the cross. Not the point. That was Friday. Easter is about what happened next. What happened three days later as they found the tomb empty. What is Easter about? It is about that empty tomb. A tomb that the body of the Messiah was laid in and sealed shut. Guarded by Roman soldiers. A tomb where the stone was rolled away and found empty. Easter is about a Messiah that was put to death in our place. And then rose from the grave so that we may live.

Perhaps that isn't even enough though? Perhaps that tomb wasn't really empty. We know that there was no body in it. In fact, it is after this that Jesus begins to appear to His followers (in some rather humorous ways too). But was the tomb truly empty?

I believe that the tomb was physically empty, yet it was quite full. Full of the world's - past, present and future - junk. Out failures. Our short comings. Our sin (ohhh, there's that ugly word that we so often like to shy away from. I'd apologize for using it but the truth s that I'm not sorry. We all have sin and I won't pretend like it's not there. We're born into it). When Jesus died on that cross He stepped outside of time and took all of that on Himself. And He took it all to the grave with Him. And when He rose again He didn't bring any of it back. He left it dead. It is why we can read in scripture that we are made new. We are no longer dead to our former self but we are made alive in Christ. It's why Ephesians tells us that we are members and citizens of Heaven. And why 1 Peter tells us that we are a chosen people; a real priesthood. That sin was left in the grave. We can either leave it there or we can go pick it up again.

That's the meaning of Easter. Life. Life abundantly. Freedom. Freedom from all our junk. Easter is a time when we remember and celebrate that gift. It's free and it's eternal. And there's nothing we could ever do to earn it. And there will never be a need to earn it.

1 comment:

  1. Ray,I agree with everything you say here.The last few weeks God has been showing me the Cross is important but the Ressurection is more important.When Jesus was resurrected He was the Firstborn of the rest of us.He made the way into heaven for us.I think God has been showing me this because since Bob died I have been more interested in heaven.It is exciting to me when the Holy Spirit reveals a truth to me that I have been missing all these years.