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What Does Easter Mean?

What does Easter mean? We've heard the Easter story from the time we were old enough to understand. Jesus died on the cross, was buried and rose from the dead three days later. He made it possible for us to have eternal life. The story of the crucifixion is softened for young children. There is no need to paint the whole picture of the horrible death on the cross. It is enough that they learn that Jesus loves them and would do anything for them. Unfortunately, as adults we often maintain the same innocuous picture of His gift to us. Easter has become the celebration of springtime. It is a time that is the representation of new life. The plants and trees that have been dead throughout the winter months start to show signs of life. Birds return and flowers bloom. It is a good feeling and is similar to being born again into Christ - leaving the past behind and knowing that I am new in God's eyes. I think that this is a much too safe picture of Easter. As much as I proclaim "He is Risen" and celebrate the resurrection, I know that my heart is not where I want it to be. My mind is more occupied with the family dinner than with the joy of the Savior.

I think that the early disciples of Jesus received a much clearer picture of the meaning of Easter. Jesus' disciples had been with Him for three years. They watched Him as He dragged His cross through the streets on the way to Golgotha. He was bloody from being beaten to an almost unrecognizable state. He staggered under the weight of the cross. He fell and got up again and staggered on. His friends watched as the soldiers drove spikes through His hands and His feet and hung Him on the cross. They watched as He suffered the agony of that horrifying death. This was no criminal who was sentenced to death. He had committed no crime. They knew Him. They had experienced His love and acceptance. They heard Him as he even forgave the men who nailed Him there. This was a sight that they would never forget. It would return to them in nightmares, if they could sleep at all.

The hours after that crucifixion would have been long and dark and sorrowful. There would have been no laughing or talking or going about normal everyday lives. Normal was gone. Hope was gone.

And then Sunday morning came. I try to imagine what it would have been like going to the tomb on that morning and finding it empty. How would I have felt, turning and seeing Jesus alive again? He had risen. Would I have remembered that He said He would? I want to experience the joy each one of those early disciples experienced as the reality of the resurrection slowly penetrated their awareness. What would it be like to stand close enough to Jesus that I could reach out and touch Him? What would it be like look into His eyes and to know without a doubt that He holds the power of life in His hands? To know without a doubt that He is the Savior because I witnessed the event that changed history - that changed everything. Hallelujah! He is risen.


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