When I was a little girl, maybe twelve years old, my uncle asked me which holiday was my favorite. I think he expected me to say my birthday or maybe Halloween. He was surprised when I said “Easter!”
We were sitting on the deck by the pool at our family’s annual get-together in June and he squinted at me in confusion. Then he asked what my second favorite holiday was and I told him “Christmas.”
“Because you get lots of presents and candy?” he shielded his eyes so that he could see me better.
“No. Because Jesus rose from the dead on Easter and he was born on Christmas. That’s why they’re my favorite days.” He seemed shocked. Then the subject was quickly changed. That was the last summer that he came to family events because he and my aunt split up. But I still remember the conversation. And I still agree with my answers. Easter is definitely my favorite holiday.
I get really excited about eggs and bunnies, dresses and bows, and family and food. All of those things are fun, but they’re just the icing on the cake. Like the birthday party that marks the day. Some years, things don’t go as perfectly as planned, and then other years it all turns out beautifully. But every year we celebrate.
On Friday night, Hubs and I watched The Passion of the Christ together. I can’t do justice to the depth of suffering that Jesus went through on our behalf. It was very powerful to watch it on film. I grieved over His punishment and I silently wondered, “Why? Why did He have to be scourged? Why couldn’t they just kill him quickly? A sword would do the trick. Maybe even lethal injection. Did they have that back then?” He was shown no mercy because He carried the full weight of our sins. He stood in the gap and took the punishment that I deserve for my actions. Every strip of flesh that was pulled from him represented a moment where I had sinned. He took my death sentence. It was brutal and ugly.
Every year our church takes the trunks from our two giant Christmas trees and fashions a cross from them. Then the cross is wrapped in chicken wire. Early in the morning, it’s bare and ugly. It’s a symbol of death, like a tree stripped of its leaves. On Easter Sunday our church families bring flowers to place on the cross. It’s a beautiful symbol of the resurrection of Christ. What was once a symbol of torture and death, has now become the symbol for eternal life.
Watching the crucifixion on Friday night reminded me of the ugliness that prompted Jesus to come in the first place. No man could have taken His life from Him but He subjected Himself to the scorn and the shame of our sin so that we could go free. He bore the punishment of us all. He bore the full wrath of God.
A teacher friend of mine once told me that having her daughter in her class was trying at times but had one reward. She said, “Even though I usually recognize the handwriting of my students, if they forget to write their name on their work it’s an automatic 10 point deduction. I always recognize my daughter’s handwriting, but she still gets ten points off. The kids know that if I’d do that to my own daughter, then I’d definitely do it to them!”
In the same way, we know that the wrath of God towards sin is extreme. He turned his back on His Son. He allowed merciless crucifixion. The judgement for our sin is severe and should not be taken lightly. If He would punish His own Son, the only perfect man to walk the earth, as a peace-offering for humanity, wouldn’t He punish us even more for refusing his mercy?
But the story doesn’t end at the cross. It continues. On Friday the world seemed lost and hopeless. But on Sunday, Jesus rose from the dead. The tomb was found to be empty and an angel sat waiting for the women who came to prepare the body. “Why do you look for the living among the dead?”
Their joyful cries of “He is risen!” echoed today around the world as congregations called out “He is risen indeed!” We celebrate His resurrection and all that God promises to us as a result of it. His death and resurrection gave Jesus the power to extend grace to all who repent of their sins. We can allow His sacrifice to be used towards our sin account. It’s not a loan that must be paid back with interest. It’s not even a credit that must be paid back with 0% interest for the first twelve months. It’s a free gift. No strings attached. To the sinner on the cross next to him, who repented as they were both dying, Jesus said, “This day you will be with me in paradise.” The condemned man didn’t have to do anything in return.
When our sins continue, His grace abounds all the more. He is an amazing Savior. Slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not treat us as our sins deserve. Isn’t that cause for a celebration? Doesn’t it make you want to do the Easter hop? Want some cake? We have plenty! Happy Easter, y’all.
Filed under: family moments, milestones, nostalgia | 4 Comments »