March 29, 2013

Easter – Early, and Just in Time

by Donald G. Mashburn

This Easter Sunday, or Resurrection Sunday as preferred by many Christians, is a time for remembering the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer. We worship Him because we believe and accept Him for who He said He was, the Son of God, “Emanuel, God with us.”

He predicted He would die for our sins, and would rise again. He promised us eternal life if we believed in Him and His Father who sent Him. If we could not believe those claims, we would have little on which to base our faith, or our hopes in this life or the next.

One foundational statement Jesus made was the one predicting His own death: “Then Jesus … said to them, ‘The Son of Man will be betrayed … and they will condemn Him to death, and the third day He will rise again.’” (Matt. 20:18-19, NKJV)

If his statement had turned out to be not true, then how could we believe any of His other statements? His claim that He would “on the third day … rise again,” was out there before His disciples to be proved true or false in His lifetime.

Then, once His death became a fact, the whole of Christianity, then and now, rested on what happened at the tomb on the Sunday after His crucifixion. If the grave still held His body, then the claims of divinity and being the Son of God would be untrue.

But for Christians around the world, His word proved to be true when it was confirmed by one of the most wonderful utterances of hope ever heard by a mortal being: “He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. (Matt. 28:6)

The empty tomb sent other strong messages. Jesus was who He said He was. God, in raising Him from the dead, accepted His divine offering as an acceptable sacrifice for our sins, a sacrifice we could not present to a Holy God.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Holy Lamb of God, with His own blood paid a debt for us which we could not pay, and a debt He did not owe.

Christians have countless reasons to worship our Redeemer on Resurrection Sunday, and our joy is sufficient to let us tolerate the use of Easter Sunday by others, as they worship Him who paid our debt at Calvary.

But we receive other blessings from this “Easter Season.” We are strengthened in our awareness of God’s love for us, of our Lord’s death and resurrection, and the knowledge that “whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

It seems, also, that because Easter comes in the Spring, we get some extra bonuses from its arrival, whether it comes early or late. This year, by the calendar, it’s earlier than usual.

The on-again, off-again Winter has been wearying. The calendar says Spring has arrived, but a few mornings back, the cold North wind produced a wind chill of 14 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Cypress financial mess has the stock market confused. And war zones almost never produce good news. We aren’t likely to be hearing about victory in the long ongoing war in Afghanistan.

These things can bring on a blue funk that a truckload of Prozac won’t help.

The wobbly economy still has the wobblies.

The big spenders in Washington still don’t seem to get it: Spend more than you have coming in and your debt increases.

The occupant of the White House seems more interested in golfing and vacationing than staying on the job and buckling down and doing the hard work it’s going to take to fix what’s broken.

The network news comes daily at 5:00 p.m. Central Blues time.

Spring can help draw our thoughts to new life, but Hope must have a higher origin.

Hope often seems beyond our reach. But then, just in time, Easter arrives. This year, praise the Lord, it’s earlier than usual! Yes, we should call it Resurrection Sunday, for that’s what it is. But for now, let’s enjoy Easter, the tonic of tonics, and share whenever we can.

Easter – a universal day of hope – a day that tells us that the world may not be well, but that all’s well for those who believe in the Christ of Easter. When the realities of the world shake our faith in the future, Easter restores us.

For some, “Easter Break” is a time of self-indulgence. For Christians, Easter is the story of a life given to save others. It’s a day of thanksgiving, for the day they shed the rags of the world and donned the spotless robe of the Redeemed.

One would think that, worldwide, people would welcome the redemption message of Easter. Sadly, however, anti-Christian forces are trying to tarnish the holiness of Easter with the ugliness of commercialism, just as they have tried to remove “Christ” from Christmas.

Christianity’s enemies want to get the Christ of Easter out of the public consciousness. They flood us with commercial messages that try to reduce God to myth, and Christ to “right wing” religious fanaticism. But God and Christ are realities of Creation, including man and woman.

The Easter Story is about an agonizing death, on a cross, of a perfect, sinless man, followed by the earth-shaking event of that Man, three days later, walking out of the grave. This man, Jesus Christ, Son of God, could have avoided dying, and had the power to destroy all those who conspired to have Him crucified.

But the glory of Easter is that Jesus stayed on the cross – but He didn’t stay in the grave. He was who He said He was, and whom God confirmed Him to be by His resurrection. Jesus chose to do His Father’s will, to pay our sin debt so that we might be made righteous in the eyes of a holy God. Jesus loved us enough to suffer the humiliation, agony, and death of the cross, so that through His resurrection we might know, and through faith believe, that He is indeed the Son of God.

Many will let Easter pass and little note it. Secular television may reduce it Easter egg hunts and parades. And many in the media will work to avoid mentioning Christ and His resurrection.

But to Christians, one salient fact makes Easter special for all mankind: On that first Easter morning, the tomb was empty! Right on time.

Today is the Day

Yesterday is forever gone.
Today is beyond our reach.
Today is the only time and place
Where we can learn, think, or teach.

We cannot return to yesterday,
Tomorrow’s where we cannot be.
Today is where we face life now
And the fact of our own Eternity.

Yesterday counts the good we’ve done,
Our tomorrows all remain unknown.
Today may count for good, or not,
We’ll only know when it has flown.

Yesterdays are what they were.
Tomorrow we may never see,
So trust Him for today, this day,
And things that for us are to be.

– Donald G. Mashburn