What's the first thing you think of when it comes to Easter? Maybe it's the dreaded Easter egg hunt. 😉 Maybe it's the sweet, pastel dresses that are on sale this time of year. Or maybe sweet bunnies, yellow ducklings, spring flowers and green grass.When I was younger, my parents dressed me in the sweetest little dresses — blue florals, soft yellows and all the girly bows. I remember celebrating this holiday by going to church on Sunday morning, singing some songs, hearing a message and then heading home to host. We'd pack up my mom's famous homemade rolls and head over to a family celebration with lots of food, punch and the notorious Easter egg hunt. While all of that is good and fine, what if I told you that those things are missing the mark? What if I told you that Easter isn't about fighting for eggs, finding a pretty dress or eating all the candy?
Yikes. Maybe you're thinking, "What a mood killer. Where's the joy in that?" Oh, dear friend, there is SO much joy in this Easter story. Since the moment that Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, the world desperately needed to be saved. As the Old Testament continues to unfold, prophets foretold of a Messiah, a promised Deliverer, that would rescue the world from their shortcomings and be a true, lasting King. Rulers and leaders came and went — a constant disappointment, no matter how much they tried to honor God. The world needed a better, lasting solution. Finally — after years and years of waiting and holding out for hope, Jesus came humbly into the scene. Jesus, the world's promised Messiah, had come. And for what purpose?
"For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many." // Mark 10:45
Jesus' death was a substitute for my life, your life and every life there is and every will be. God inacted the greatest act of service by sending His Son, Jesus, to the world to take our place. Think about this: You and I should have been on that cross -- not Jesus. We deserved it, not Him. It's like God said: "Hey, my Son is going to take every sin that everyone has ever committed or will ever commit and DIE for it. He is going to take each sinner's place on the cross. Instead of destining them for eternal death, I'm going to save them and make my Son their substitute. They don't have to do this themselves. I'm providing a better way." Jesus HAD to die. He HAD to suffer. It was the only way to bring about God's providential plan (Luke 9:22). He had to be beaten, bruised, mocked and laughed at to offer new life to you and I. But friend — there is so much hope in this story. After Jesus breathed His last on the cross and His body laid lifeless in a tomb for a few days, HE ROSE. His body began to breathe again — He burst out of the tomb and accomplished everything that His Father sent Him to do. Through this miracle, Jesus broke the barrier between man and God and now offered a new way to live.
"In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us..." // Ephesians 1:7-8
As we go about this week (aka Holy or Passion Week), I'd like to encourage you to join me in approaching Easter intentionally. I'm asking you if you would like to honor and praise the Lord with me, as we think about what Easter truly is about. And when we do, this can become a part of our whole lives... not just one week out of the year.
How to Approach Easter Intentionally
Remember the gospel daily. Make it your aim/prayer to wake up everyday reflecting on the gospel — reflecting on Jesus' sacrifice and His lavish love. Ask the Lord to help you think on it often throughout your day. Ask the Lord to revive and awaken your heart to the gospel that may have lost its power in your life.
Die to yourself. Luke 9:23 says, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny Himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." Jesus' death on the cross means that He defeated sin and the hold that it has on our lives. Strive to live each day by remembering Jesus' sacrifice and what He called us to do: to die to our "old life" and live in a much better "new life" that Christ has won for us.
Celebrate it and be thankful! Although this story is very sobering, the third day has come! JESUS IS ALIVE! HE HAS DEFEATED DEATH! FOR YOU AND ME! This is something to celebrate. We have the choice to view everyday as a gift, knowing that God has our future secure because of what He did on the cross.
Spread the love around! After Jesus raised to life, Mary ran across town, yelling and hollering that Jesus was alive! At the end of Matthew's gospel, Jesus commands His disciples to "go and make disciples." Recognize that this is YOUR call from Jesus: to be the salt and light of the world.