What You Really Think About Easter
What I love about these Honest Answers Polls, is that I never know what the results are going to be. And our last poll about your experience of Easter was no exception. I was amazed that 53% of respondents said they looked forward to Easter more than any other time of the year. That’s very high. And yet 41% indicated that they struggled to connect with Easter.
So … what does that tell us?
Should We Celebrate Easter at All?
There was quite a bit of discussion around whether we should confine Easter to a single time of year; whether the idea of festivals or celebrations with concepts borrowed from pagan rituals was even appropriate.
I used to be against Christian holidays and festivals. But the more I study my Bible, the more I discover that they’re a great part of God’s plan. Starting with the Sabbath and in particular, the Passover. And in the New Testament – communion, pointing back to the Passover.
Jesus was crucified at the Passover (tapping into the rich symbolism of God’s redemption of His people through the very first Passover) and for centuries we’ve celebrated Easter at around Passover time (for a great summary of the connection between the two, click here).
In fact, the command for Israel to celebrate the Passover was a strong and emphatic one from God:
This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance. (Exodus 12:14)
I know – we’re no longer under the Old Testament law. But the idea of festival, celebration and remembrance is a strong biblical theme in honouring God. (I’ve come to see that as an incredible blessing – the chance to remember; the chance to celebrate. How awesome is that?!) There’s also strong evidence that the Hebrews borrowed dates and festivals from more pagan rituals of their day (e.g. around the harvest, the new moon and so on).
It’s an awesome thing to celebrate what Jesus did for us, don’t you think? Should we be celebrating the essence of Easter every day of the year? Of course we should! Absolutely!! The Cross of Christ and the empty tomb are the bedrock, the very foundation of the power of grace in our lives.
But at the same time, what an amazing privilege it is for us to have a special time of remembrance and celebration around the single most important event in all of history. To gather together as God’s people each year, and remember what Jesus did for us. What an abundant blessing!
Why Do Some Struggle To “Connect”
So … why do so many people (41% of what is, by and large, a pretty committed bunch of Christians) struggle to connect with Easter?
Here’s what I think. The more familiar we are with something in the BIble, the harder it is to connect with it at a heart level. We’ve heard it before. We know how it turns out. We’ve invented rituals around how we celebrate it. And somehow all those things conspire to rob us of the heart experience of Easter.
I distinctly remember one of my lecturers at Bible College – Ian Pennicook – every time he talked about the Cross, he became teary and emotional. And this from a man who was a bit of a tough old nut. One day, all choked up, he said:
I can’t just talk about the Cross, I only ever glory in the Cross.
Funny the things we remember. And that’s how it’s been for me ever since. I often choke up when I’m preaching on the Cross. Because it totally, totally blows me away that Jesus would suffer and die for me. I just don’t deserve that! And that’s the whole point of grace.
What’s the Solution?
Do you find it difficult to “connect” with the heart message of Easter? Does that deep sense of emotion and gratitude elude you sometimes at Easter?
Then my friend … it’s time for you to glory in the Cross. It’s time to set aside some quiet time over the next few days and just rest in one of the Gospel accounts of the Passion.
It struck me that passion is what gets us to do something painful and difficult, even when there’s no promise of a reward. I wonder if that’s why they call the trial, the torture and the crucifixion of Jesus, the Passion of Christ.
He loved us so much, that He died on that Cross for us.
I guarantee that if you were to set aside some quiet time, some time alone with Jesus, with the door closed and the Book open, reading the old, old story, praying, thinking, praying some more – I guarantee that the awesome celebration of the Cross, the glory of the Cross will totally overwhelm you.
Easter will never be the same again.
Your life … will never be the same again.
Bernie I have really enjoyed all your posts around Easter. I don’t always read them when they come into my inbox, but I am greatly enjoying catching up this morning. My joy, he is risen!