Easter means different things to different people. For most Christians in my country, it is a time of celebration with family and friends; most will attend a church service. For some, it represents one of the few times each year that they will attend a church service at all. For others, it coincides with government tax filing deadlines and financial pressures — and means little else. For many Christians and non-Christians alike, it represents a time when children dye brightly-colored eggs, enjoy Easter-egg hunts, and put out Easter baskets for the Easter bunny to fill with candies. For retailers, it represents $18.2 billion in consumer spending for 2018 (per annual survey for the National Retail Federation) — related primarily to candy, food, gifts, and spring apparel.
In a consumer-based culture, it’s easy to be distracted by the commercialism and exploitation of Easter — and to forget what Easter is really about. I did. What a blunder.
The Bible teaches us that Easter represents a celebration of life and renewal through Christ. It is a time of thanksgiving for being made right in God’s sight through Christ’s sacrifice for us. It represents freedom from the chains of sin. It represents our liberation from eternal darkness and death by God’s mercy.
It is a story of a love so deep for us that it can be difficult to comprehend. The story of Easter is the ultimate love story.
The Apostle Paul wrote:
“Now do you see it? No one can ever be made right in God’s sight by doing what the law commands. For the more we know of God’s laws, the clearer it becomes that we aren’t obeying them; his laws serve only to make us see that we are sinners. But now God has shown us a different way to heaven — not by ‘being good enough’ and trying to keep his laws, but by a new way (though not new, really, for the Scriptures told about it long ago.) Now God says he will accept and acquit us – declare us ‘not guilty’ – if we trust Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way by coming to Christ, no matter who we are or what we have been like. Yes, all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious ideal; yet now God declares us ‘not guilty’ of offending him if we trust Jesus Christ, who in his kindness freely takes away our sins.” (Romans 3:20-24)
“For God sent Christ Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to end all God’s anger against us. He used Christ’s blood and our faith as the means of saving us from his wrath...” (Romans 3:25)
How we chose to thank God and celebrate Christ’s sacrifice for us is a personal decision. God gave us free will and a conscience to follow for this purpose. Whether people’s Easter involves church, family celebrations, Easter eggs, Easter bunnies, Easter baskets, and shopping is not for me to say — or judge.
But Easter, without Christ, is no Easter at all.
Photo by Matthew Benoit