by Ralen M. Robinson
They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. (Luke 24:2-3)
When my sister and I were little, we eagerly looked forward to spring–and Easter. Easter Sunday meant fluffy dresses, frilly white ankle socks, colored barrettes and shiny little white shoes that clicked and clacked on bare floors, unlike our usual soft-soled sneakers. We’d put on our fluffy dresses and spin around so fast that the skirts sailed into the air, creating a beautiful swirl of color.
The week before Easter was filled with excitement, too–because we knew we’d be hunting for dozens of Easter eggs in the back yard. And on the afternoon of Easter every year, we’d grumble in unison when yet again, those nasty marshmallow Peeps found their way into our baskets — no matter how many times we had told our parents how icky they were.
To my sister and me, Easter meant bickering over candy, singing in church so loudly we created surround-sound, getting grass stains on our white socks, and ignoring our parents’ pleas to not eat too much candy before dinner.
That was Easter. Through our childish eyes, Easter was a day for rejoicing in candy and not in the Lord, and playing games and not paying reverence. But as the years passed and my understanding deepened, the Lent and Easter seasons took on deeper meanings too.
I began to appreciate Lent as a time of preparation, a 40-day period of trial and testing, deeply reflecting on what has occurred and what is yet to come. It became for me a time to be sensitive to the brokenness in humankind and to the doubts we hold fast. It also became for me a time to reflect on the progress humankind has made.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)
To fully understand Easter and all it signifies, we must see how Jesus got there. It was among ridicule, verbal lashings and cruel pain that he stood in the city of Jerusalem, betrayed by a friend. It was there that he continued to give of himself for his people. It was there that he offered grace, healed, forgave and walked alongside the flawed human beings who make up the beautiful body of Christ. Jesus had to endure it all to make it to the point of the cross.
Sometimes, we too have to go through suffering and pain to find calmer days. It isn’t fair, but suffering is unavoidable. We may not experience physical lashes on our own backs or be hung on a cross as Jesus was, but we too endure the sorrows of being lost, unloved, mocked and left out. We too feel the real pains of the world in our lives and in the lives around us.
Jesus endured it all for us. He took humanity’s pain, suffering, and ultimately death on himself so that we could live in a new life. In the last part of his earthly life, Jesus suffered so much agony, hurt and torment.
Yet through it all, Jesus still prayed through ragged breath, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Jesus’s bold response to the cruelty and injustice that meant his death was unyielding love and compassion. Even in his anguish, Jesus’ concern was for us and for our forgiveness.
So now on Easter Sunday morning we rejoice in the resurrection of Jesus. Here, now, we sing and shout hallelujah and we rejoice that death could not hold him, that God’s promise was fulfilled. Yet how do we get past the sorrow of Good Friday to the joy of Easter Sunday? How do we put on our frilly Easter outfits and joyful smiles? How do we not pay homage to the 40 days of repentance and reflection?
We stand on the heartache and lashes Jesus endured in order to see that darkness will not overtake us.
The Lenten and Easter seasons show us that we will survive and surpass the ugliness and brokenness of this world. That ugliness and brokenness are there and will always be there. How do we know that and still continue to rise up as God intends?
We rise up and live according to God’s plan, and we rise up to walk in the footprints Jesus left for us generations ago. We rise up when we look past a person’s malice and find something good within them. We rise up when we look upon the brokenness of the world and see it as the beautiful mosaic God intends.
Easter Sunday is the day to rejoice, to praise and exalt the man who was born, lived, died and rose again for us. On that third day, he proved to us all that he was who he said he was – the Son of Man who came to save us, both human and divine, our Savior.
Easter is so much much more than frilly dresses, Easter egg hunts and candy. It’s a celebration of the ultimate sacrifice made for each and every one of us, a sacrifice that led to the glorious rising of new life.
Ralen Robinson is the associate pastor of Reformation Lutheran Church, Wichita, Ks.
This article first appeared in the April 2029 issue of Boldcafe.org.