April 17, 2003

Easter, Just in Time
by Donald G. Mashburn

Spring, in normal times, is the seasonal tonic that helps us to focus on new life and the future. But this spring brought with it real-time images of war, and young soldiers in combat. And across the country, hearts filled with pride and concern for brave men and women fighting – and dying – at places called An Nasiriya, Najaf, Al Kut and Baghdad.

Here in America, the economy has gone wobbly, and threatens to go wobblier. The stock market seems to have sleeping sickness – or worse – and rouses itself only when some “expert” reports, on the same day, an economic recovery, the war’s end, and “confirmed” sightings of Elvis.

These things can bring on a blue funk that a truckload of Prozac won’t help. But then, just in time, Easter comes. Easter, the tonic of tonics, whether or not spring has won its tug of war with winter. 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.

Knowing what Easter is about helps us to cope with the global upheaval brought on by a crazed Saddam Hussein. 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 when 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. But, sadly, 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 fanatic. But God and Christ are reality. And Easter is much more than bunny rabbits, and new spring outfits for a once-a-year church service and joining in singing “He Arose.”

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. He 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.

Easter will pass hardly noticed by many. Television may show an Easter egg hunt, and some (commercialized) parades. But notice how many in the media work to avoid mentioning Christ and His resurrection.

The world’s spiritual condition is terrible. This could be seen in the recent hypocritical machinations of representatives from France, Germany and Russia in the feeble U.N. Security Council, showing that some in this world put profit above rescuing innocent millions from the brutality and violence of a murderous Saddam Hussein.

To Christians, Easter is the blessed assurance of a changed life and of life eternal with Him. One salient fact makes Easter special for all mankind: On that first Easter morning, the tomb was empty! Right on time.

Believers sing confidently, “He arose, He arose, Hallelujah, Christ arose!” To join that chorus is easy: Believe in the resurrected Christ, and receive as a free gift “the righteousness of God which is through faith in Jesus Christ to all and on all who believe” (Romans 3:22 NKJV)

With Christ as Lord of our life, we know the world can’t hurt us. And there’s no room for war worries, “winter willies” or “spring blues.”

Ah, Easter! A glorious time of hope and renewal. And just in time.