Of all the religious holidays that we celebrate throughout the year, Easter stands out as the most impressive. It is with good reason that we spend the Lenten season in preparation for it and continue to recall it in the Sundays following.
Easter remains untarnished by the tinsel and frivolous gaiety that threatens to ruin the true celebration of Christmas. It does not slip by almost unobserved as do Prayer Day, Good Friday, and several of the other Christian holidays. It is characterized by a deeper, more spiritual joy than is found in the “Christmas Spirit.”
There are dangers in the observance of Easter by the people of God, just as there are dangers in the other religious holidays. The dangers in the celebration of Easter, however, are of a different kind. We do not worry about lack of attendance of divine worship on Easter; nor is there as much danger of losing sight of the purpose of Easter in the exchange of gifts. The danger of losing Easter is, of course, in the preoccupation with fashions so that Easter becomes little more than a display of fineries. But this is not the real joy of Easter, nor does it have a place in the celebration of Easter by the Church of God.
The hope of the resurrection is a fundamental part of our faith. So Easter is the celebration of the hope of every true Christian. The strength of the whole of our faith is dependent upon the strength of each of its parts. If we lose the meaning of Easter we have lost everything. As the Apostle Paul says in the beautiful fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians, “If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.”
Easter is a source of deep joy for every Christian who looks beyond the trials of this earth to the glory of the perfect creation. The Christian is tired of the constant war with the sin of the world and of his own sinful flesh and he lives in the assurance that his fight will never end in defeat, for he does not live hopelessly but looks forward eagerly to the time when God will make him incorruptible.
The fear of death is strong in everyone, believer as well as unbeliever. The unbeliever fears death for a very good reason: for him there remains nothing after this life but eternal punishment. The Christian can look forward to death with hope, for death is the result of sin and with his freedom from sin he is also free from the sting of death. Only the Christian can say with Paul, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” In the resurrection of Christ, we see the wonder of our own resurrection.
We will never be able to understand the resurrection on this earth. We can only stand in awe when we read the words, “He is not here, but is risen.” And the Apostle Paul says, “Behold, I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep…” Like all of the mystery of salvation, we believe it firmly by faith. Although we will never be able to understand how the body that was dead is able to live again, we have the assurance on Easter that what is impossible with man is possible with God.
This, then, is the joy of Easter: for the Christian, it is a deep spiritual joy that the work of salvation that Christ has merited is surely carried to its fulfillment in the eternal salvation of every one of the elect. It is the certain knowledge that we also shall be raised even as Christ was raised. Easter is the continuation of Christmas and Good Friday. Easter is a day of great spiritual rejoicing; the fulfillment of all the hope and mystery of salvation.
Let’s keep Easter, this year and every year. It must never become a day of display. Let us not be like the world, so that Easter is more than a time for everyone to display the newest fashions or to take part in all the mythology that the world likes to attach to Easter. If we take any part in it, we show a definite lack in our spiritual life. Let us stand in awe, on Easter, before the wonder of the resurrection and of our own salvation. Let us stand in awe and amazement with the women before the empty tomb to hear the words, “He is not here: for he is risen, as he said.”