When we think of Easter, do we associate it with things such as early spring housecleaning, a special Sunday dinner, purchasing a new spring outfit? Doesn't the meaning of Easter go much deeper, reminding us of the continuing need for a genuine spiritualization of thought and outlook; a recommitment to the basic teachings of Christianity?
These teachings are brought into clear focus in Christ Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. n1 In the Beatitudes, for example, the Master calls for the expression of certain qualities and tells us the priceless rewards they bring. He emphasizes the need for humility, purity, meekness; an eagerness to do what is right and truthful; a love that includes everyone, that enables us to rise above adversity and persecution.
n1 See Matthew 5-7.
Also in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus shows us the importance of prayer; of seeing that this is not merely an outward ritual, but deeply felt communion with God that leads to redemption and healing. This kind of prayer makes us more alive to the allness and goodness of God. It shows us that man is God's image and likeness, the manifestation of indestructible, eternal Life.
We're told further by the Master that as God provides for ''the fowls of the air'' and ''the lilies of the field,'' so He meets our needs, and we have to stop limiting or burying our faith in His ability to bless. Still further, he tells us we need first to make ourselves better rather than judge our fellowman. We need to live Christianity to the point where we are in a position to actively help others. And we're not only to hear Jesus' words but to do them. On this solid foundation, we can meet and overcome trouble.
In the crucifixion and resurrection, Christ Jesus proved beyond question the entire truth of what he taught. He proved the omnipotence and omnipresence of God, Life, and the powerlessness of death. Death is not simply a biological phenomenon, something we have to cope or live with. ''To be carnally minded is death,'' the Apostle Paul states; ''but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.'' n2
n2 Romans 8:6
Consistent, persistent effort on our part to put into practice the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount is an effective rebuke to carnal-mindedness and therefore to death itself. Such effort is a necessary response to the Easter message and adds a new dimension to our understanding of identity and being. Life is not a matter of enduring a few days on a calendar. In reality, it is the self-expressing activity of God, reflected by man. The perception of this truth enables us to progressively overcome all limitations to good.
Jesus said of his own mission, ''I am come that they (his followers in all ages) might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.'' n3 And Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes of Jesus: ''With our Master, life was not merely a sense of existence, but an accompanying sense of power that subdued matter and brought to light immortality , insomuch that the people 'were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.' '' And she continues, ''Life, as defined by Jesus, had no beginning; it was not the result of organization, or infused into matter; it was Spirit.'' n4
n3 John 10:10.
n4 Retrospection and Introspection, m p. 58.
This Life, which is Spirit, certainly motivated and governed the early Christians. After the ascension of our Master, these dedicated individuals were so affected by what he had given them through precept and example that they too preached, taught, and healed from a spiritual standpoint. The result was that countless people felt a positive change in their lives and joined the Church.
Striving to emulate the Master's example, we can begin to resurrect ourselves and others from the sense of hopelessness and futility that may present itself to us today, and thereby open our hearts and minds to an ever greater appreciation of the true meaning of Easter. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Jesus . . . said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me . . . And I know that his commandment is life everlasting. John 12:44, 50