“Will you Easter with me?”
My daughter had been at my mom’s that day, and I’d heard they had gotten out the Easter decorations. When I arrived to pick her up, she sweetly and eagerly looked up at me, holding her basket full of eggs, and asked, “Will you Easter with me, mom?”
At first, my kiddo’s syntactical error made me giggle. But after a moment, I realized that she’d said something very profound.
Easter is a verb. Or at least it should be. Easter, our annual celebration of the resurrection of Jesus, is a time for intentional and purposeful celebration. But what would it look like “to Easter” in our everyday lives?
When Jesus arrived in Jerusalem the Sunday before His death, the crowd spread their coats and branches on the ground, giving Him quite the welcome. They knew that this was no ordinary man entering their town, and so they cried out “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:8-9).
We call this day Palm Sunday, and often commemorate it in church with praise and exultation. This is not only a time to remember Jesus being welcomed into Jerusalem, but it is also a time to ask for His direction and leadership in our own lives as well. It is a day of welcoming, a day of aligning ourselves with Him.
I recently did this by writing out a list of the roles I play, the key relationships in my life, and the various places I often find myself in. One by one, I went down the list and welcomed Jesus into these roles, relationships, and places. Sure, He was technically already present in these places; He is God, after all. But this was about my willingness to welcome Him in and intentionally acknowledging once again that He’s the one in charge. It is a way of saying, “Not my will, but yours.”
This wasn’t easy. As I welcomed Jesus into my home, my marriage, my role as mother, my classroom, my friendships, my idols and strongholds, I realized that His presence would demand some changes in these areas. Lies, anxiety, and strongholds can no longer rule where He is welcomed. Part of the welcoming is believing in and affirming His worthiness above all. Let’s welcome Christ in this Easter season, no matter the cost.
The evening before He died, Jesus celebrated Passover with His disciples—a festival remembering how God had delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. At this meal, Jesus instituted what we know as the Lord’s Supper, or Communion. As He sat around the table with His followers, He broke a loaf of bread, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” He then took the cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you” (Luke 22:19-20).
Jesus’ words “do this in remembrance of me” are big and bold to my eyes. He has asked us to remember His sacrifice by eating the bread and drinking the cup. This needs to be a part of our “Eastering” this year. When we accept the bread and the cup, we are putting our lot in with His. We are saying, “We want in. We want to be a part of this.” This means we will suffer with Him, but it also means that as His children, our future is secure; we will resurrect with Him.
Remember Christ’s sacrifice in this way as you partake of the Lord’s Supper this Easter Week.
On Friday during that Passover week, Jesus was nailed to the cross. After suffering for several hours, He called out, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46), and then took His last breath. Matthew tells us that there was an earthquake when Jesus died (Matthew 27:51), and we read that there was darkness from noon until three that day (Luke 23:44-45).
Can you imagine how oppressive it would have felt to stand there at the foot of the cross? To experience that earthquake, in the darkness? To see with your own eyes the havoc that sin and shame had wreaked on the world? All of this speaks to the somber weight of that day’s events. The Son of God crucified. God the Father turning His back on His Son. This seems like the worst day in all of history.
How do we enter into this grief? How do we experience the heaviness of what went down that day? I think the obvious answer is one we don’t necessarily like—that we need to sit with this; we need to not rush past it, to not skip ahead to Sunday. We need to sit in Friday for a while, and we need to grieve not only Jesus’ death, but our sin that put Him there.
We need to ask God to help us understand, the best we can, the weight of His sacrifice, the weight of the loss and the shame that the world experienced that Friday. And so we grieve. We grieve the sin and shame that has infected and infiltrated our world. We grieve our part in it, and thus our separation from God. Rest assured, though, that the story doesn’t end here. . .
Wait for Him
Can you imagine what that Saturday was like, when Jesus lay lifeless in the tomb? The disciples—did they feel hopeless, thinking they had it all wrong? Or did a few, through understanding from the Spirit, begin to put all of Jesus’ teachings together and wait hopefully for His return?
This tension of Saturday—between Jesus’ death on Friday and His resurrection on Sunday—is not to be skipped over. Jesus was dead, and some of His followers felt hopeless. Yet we know that Sunday was coming and Jesus would rise again. The interim is a hard place to be. A willingness to wait, to sit in the tension, demonstrates an understanding that we’re not in charge. Just like the grieving, let’s not rush past this. The joy of Sunday won’t make sense without the restlessness of Saturday.
What does it look like to wait for Christ today? Yes, in the Easter season, but also in the seasons of our lives. Maybe we’re “in-between” in our circumstances right now. Where and in what way are we being asked to wait, to live in the not-quite-yet? How do we cling to Christ in this time of waiting? And what exactly are we waiting for?
As Christians, ultimately we wait for the fullness of God’s Kingdom. We wait for when Jesus will return and set all things right, when sin will no longer have dominion over the world. And so, in our waiting, we set our eyes on Sunday. . .
Rejoice in Him
On Sunday morning, the Resurrected Jesus appears before His friends, family, and disciples. The grave could not hold Him. He stared death in the face and overcame it. He took on the wrath against our sin and shame, and atoned for us completely.
Can you imagine this day? All the sadness and hopelessness being undone? Our worst nightmare proving not true? The disciples missed and longed for Jesus, and now He stood in front of them, in the flesh again. He is indeed who He said He was. He is the long-promised Rescuer, come to save His people from their sin and for His glory! A debt we could not pay, paid in full! He has made a way for you and me to know Him and to live with Him forever! Sin no longer separates us from our King, and so Sunday is the best day in all of history!
This year on Easter, let us drink deeply the joy that abounds because of the risen Christ. Let’s sing our praise to Him loud and proud. Let’s open our arms wide and receive His forgiveness, grace, and goodness. Let’s hug our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, and announce with the worldwide Church that He has risen! He has risen, indeed! Augustine said it best in his discourse on the Psalms: “We are an Easter people, and Allelujah is our song!”
My friend, will you Easter with me this year?