As I strolled down the seasonal aisle during my weekly grocery run, I stopped at the chocolate Easter bunnies, debating within the solid versus hollow bunny controversy.
Then something caught my eye.
This gave me pause.
I wasn’t sure what to think.
On one hand, I wanted to appreciate the acknowledgment of the spiritual aspect of Easter. On the other, I was unsettled by the thought of going into a diabetic coma after eating a chocolate molding of an ancient means of slow execution.
I actually don’t fault secular companies for trying to tap into a particular market. They don’t know the meaning of that symbol. They just see it perched on the top of a building or hung around a person’s neck and think: maybe they’ll buy this.
I mention the chocolate cross because it made me think of something else regarding the Christ-follower’s relationship to Easter.
Or more accurately, to Resurrection Sunday.
It seems that a lot—perhaps too many—of us Christians in America have a “been-there, done-that, got the tee-shirt.” At some point in our lives, we went forward, understood Jesus saved them from our sins, prayed the prayer, and moved forward with our lives.
We identify as Christians, often boldly so. We go to church on Sundays, tithe regularly, read the Bible sometimes, pray regularly, and “do for the least of these.”
Please don’t get me wrong: those are extremely important spiritual disciplines.
But often I feel like our passion—our fire—is missing. Do we really get excited about the Gospel did for us?
In a couple of weeks, while the rest of the world is celebrating Spring by mythical bunnies hiding colored eggs (and atheists think Christianity doesn’t make sense?!) and eating large portions of ham and scalloped potatoes, followers of Jesus will recognize the cross and resurrection of the Savior.
We prepare for it:
Invite family—check. Prepare our dinner—check. Don our Easter best—check. Go to church to give Jesus a “Yay, Jesus” for raising from the dead—check. Eat dinner—check.
Go to work on Monday.
But do we really get excited about Easter? Do we truly celebrate it? Does the anticipation light a fire in us—now, not just on Easter Sunday? Do we truly understand what Jesus did for us on that rugged cross? Or the power behind the empty tomb?
Or is it like the chocolate cross, where we acknowledge it, consume it, and move on with our lives?
Think about what those words “it is finished” mean. For the universe, for all the earth, for you and me.
When we read of the death of Jesus, we blow right over an obscure, yet very relevant detail:
At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. (Matthew 27:51-52)
Have you ever considered this? Upon the death of Jesus, the curtain in the temple, separating the whole world from God was torn in two.
The curtain mentioned separated the Most Holy Place from the rest on the world. Inside the Most Holy Place was the room that held the Ark of the Covenant. In this room was the presence of God in his holiness. Only one person—the high priest—was allowed into the Most Holy Place only once a year during Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, to sprinkle blood onto the altar.
The priest’s ritual was extremely rigid. A rope would be tied around the priest’s waist, because if he failed to follow the precise instructions, he would fall dead. If the rope slackened, others would have to pull out the body because no one else could go in to retrieve it.
Keep in mind, this rigidity wasn’t about God waiting for someone to screw up so he could zap them.
Instead, it had to do with unholiness (which humanity has become since Genesis 3) entering into holiness. The two cannot coexist, just like darkness is unable to coexist with light.
The latter will always overpower.
The pure holiness of God cannot coexist with a fallen humanity.
Thus, the separation.
And to make sure humanity remembers that it is his, not our doing, Matthew noted that the curtain tore in two from the top down.
From heaven to earth.
Isn’t that a big deal? Isn’t that something worth celebrating and getting excited about?
The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the very foundation of our faith. The entire Old Testament points to this moment. Forty days after the resurrection, the once-cowering disciples boldly preached Christ in the very city in which Jesus died. The same high priests and the same Roman guards were still present.
After hearing Peter preaching the resurrected Jesus, all they needed to do was go to the tomb and produce the body and Christianity is chopped off at the ankles. Even Paul himself writes: “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” (1 Corinthians 15:14)
Like Christmas, Easter should be celebrated leading into the day, on the day itself, and well into the rest of the year.
Not just for a chocolate cross.
But for one who overcame death.