“EASTER” – INSULT ON TOP OF INJURY?

There He hung.  Suspended between heaven and earth.  Then, heaven and earth converged, and the veil was torn, the earth shook, rocks were split, tombs were opened and the dead were raised. Heaven and earth touched.

You can hear it throughout the church production, but, it is most pronounced at the end of the service, during the crescendo of the music. You know the song, “UP FROM THE GRAVE HE AROSE”.  The message is clear, “WE WIN”!

Is there a hidden within the minds and hearts of those singing these praises is the sublime messages? Is it “Us against Them”, and we win!

Actually, the song says, Up from the grave he arose; with a mighty triumph o’er his foes; he arose a victor from the dark domain, and he lives forever, with his saints to reign. He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!  His foes are not people, For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

 Is this inadvertent misconception causing us to rejoice in the wrong way and for some wrong reasons?  Are we secretly happy that “all those bad people” who don’t believe in, or who hate Jesus are going to get what they have coming?

Jesus Mission on earth was not to condemn or defeat people, but He came to save them.  That is our mission, also.

Secondly, are we just observers now?  We “observe” Easter?  If this holiday is meant to be a commemoration of Jesus’ victory over death and triumph in life, then we should be going, doing and telling everyone, right?  But, alas, many watch the service in agreement, perhaps shout an occasional “amen” then go to lunch, satisfied that “we will win in the end”.  But, He has called us to action!

Don’t get me wrong.  I love the holiday we call “Easter” and I love to celebrate Jesus.  This season reminds me that Jesus lived and died on my behalf and on the behalf of all people.  I am reminded that death could not stop Him and the grave could not contain Him.  He is victorious over evil, sin, disease and death, and because He lives, we can live forever, victoriously,  in His presence.

This is why we should praise Him and tell everyone this Good News!

It is not “Us against Them”.  It is “Jesus and US” for them.  Pulling for those who do not know Jesus as their Savior, to come to Him and find eternal life!  This message is for all people to have victory over evil, sin, disease and death.

As much as I love Resurrection Sunday (aka, “Easter”), I also dread the way we celebrate the holiday we call Easter.  I dread it because of the confused and mixed message we send.  EGGS and BUNNIES.  US versus THEM.  Dressed in our “Sunday Best”.

THE CRUCIFIXION

The trial was a mockery.  The conviction was a predetermined fraud.  The sentencing was death by crucifixion, preceded by humiliation and a brutal and bloody beating.  Then He was hung on a cross with nails in His hands and feet.  His side was pierced with a spear.  You could hear jeering, taunting, sorrowful crying.  There were no bunnies.  No decorated eggs.  No Sunday brunch.

THE RESURRECTION

Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found it was empty except for the burial clothes and “two men in dazzling clothing.”  There was no sunrise service.  No one dressed in their “Sunday Best”.

THE ASCENSION

Acts 1:6   “So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” 7He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; 8but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

V9  “And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. 11 They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”

There were no orchestras.  No crescendo of music. But, make no mistake.  Everything had changed for the BEST, and the world would never forget, and it would never be the same.

“DEATH HAS BEEN SWALLOWED UP in victory. WHERE, O DEATH, IS YOUR VICTORY? WHERE, O DEATH, IS YOUR STING?”  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the Law; Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be firm, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

 EASTER?  Really?

Old English Easterdæg, from Eastre (Northumbrian Eostre), from Proto-Germanic *austron-, “dawn,” also the name of a goddess of fertility and spring, perhaps originally of sunrise, whose feast was celebrated at the spring equinox, from *aust- “east, toward the sunrise” (compare east), from PIE root *aus- (1) “to shine,” especially of the dawn.

Bede says Anglo-Saxon Christians adopted her name and many of the celebratory practices for their Mass of Christ’s resurrection. Almost all neighboring languages use a variant of Latin Pascha to name this holiday (see paschal).

Easter egg is attested by 1825, earlier pace egg (1610s). Easter bunny is attested by 1904 in children’s lessons; Easter rabbit is by 1888; the paganish customs of Easter seem to have grown popular c. 1900; before that they were limited to German immigrants.

So, who has been influencing whom?  I can’t help hearing these words, Matthew 7:14 “for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. v14 But, narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

RESURRECTION SUNDAY

It’s not too late.  Celebrate this Resurrection Sunday by remembering Jesus, what He has done, and what it means to you and others.

Now, let’s Go and Tell about Him and what He has done!  Let’s be reminded to Go and Do as Jesus has done.

And, oh yes, have a Blessed Resurrection Sunday!

Your Brother and Friend,

Mike Young

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