When I was growing up, Easter always felt like the official start of spring. Jelly bean hunts and baskets with chocolate bunnies and marshmallow chicks, the smell of vinegar setting the dye we used to color eggs, crisp new white gloves and a hat. All these signalled an end to the icy blasts of winter and a beginning of tender green plants and blossoming trees. By Easter I was ready for snow to be banished from Michigan. At least until next year.
I didn't understand the religious significance of Easter, or even that it was related to the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ. As an adult, I began to grasp the depth of opposition to Jesus' ministry and mission. Kill the message through ridicule and mockery, kill the messenger, place the body in a tomb with a large stone in front of it, and his persecutors could rest easy. Or could they?
Just as a layer of snow couldn't hide forever the ongoing life beneath it, no amount of persecution could bury or destroy the message of Jesus' life. He showed the world that God not only knows and loves each one of us, but that we are always in His sight.
The Bible tells about two Marys who went to Jesus' tomb on the third day. What did they expect to see? A body they could anoint? Instead, an angel told them not to look for Jesus in the grave; he had overcome death and risen. The stone meant to seal his tomb had been rolled away (see Mark 16:1-8).
Easter comes for me now anytime I think about what this event means - which is often. No stone or cross could take away the proof of God's love for His whole creation that Jesus' life provided, or the promise it represented - a promise that God's most precious gifts of life and truth and love are never destroyed and cannot be silenced.
In his book, "Mere Christianity," C.S. Lewis uses the analogy of toy tin soldiers turning into real people to illustrate how Christ can bring humanity into spiritual life.
God cares enough to send the very best. God sent His beloved Son. Jesus gave the example of what it is to be an heir of God. And yet, this cherished Son had to endure great challenges. Because of his example in meeting and mastering these challenges, we can always look at our own problems and say, "I know there is something greater than me, watching over me, aware of every hair on my head."
Easter is about triumph and victory. Persecution, ridicule, mockery - even the crucifixion - couldn't defeat Jesus. Before his crucifixion, his disciples asked him what would happen to him. The Gospel of John in the Bible records him telling them of the hardships that he would endure and that they, too, would endure: "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" (16:33).
Jesus' example gives me confidence that I can meet adversity with the trust that I will experience an awakening to my own relationship to God. Jesus' resurrection is ours as well. Speaking of its significance to his disciples, Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Monitor, wrote: "His resurrection was also their resurrection. It helped them to raise themselves and others from spiritual dulness and blind belief in God into the perception of infinite possibilities" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 34).
Easter still feels like the harbinger of spring, of renewal and infinite possibilities. And it also reminds me that even the most severe winter cannot kill this sweet resurgence of life.
And very early
in the morning
the first day of the week,
they came unto the sepulchre ....
And when they looked,
they saw that the stone
was rolled away.
Mark 16:2, 4
(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor