Preview of a Happy Easter

Young people, did you know that it is almost Easter? Yes, that’s what I’m asking. That’s a stupid question, you say. Of course we know it’s almost Easter. Don’t we see the signs of it all around us? Does not almost every store window show something we should buy because Easter is coming? We see Easter made the reason for buying almost everything you can think of: hats, coats, shoes, gloves, candies; there are Easter bunnies, Easter chicks, Easter bonnets, complete Easter outfits. As soon as we open our morning paper we are reminded that Easter will soon be here. We read many advertisements centered around the idea that we are nearing Easter Sunday. We read of plans that are being made all over the country to somehow celebrate Easter. How could anyone in this country have his eyes and ears open and not know that Easter is coming?

Well, perhaps I should rephrase my question. Young people, do you know that the day on which we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord is almost here? That’s different, isn’t it? The world is full of devices to remind us that Easter is coming, but we find little to remind us of Resurrection Day. Yet, if we but look around us, in “My Father’s World,” we see much that tells us of the Resurrection. And listening to the language that God speaks to us in nature makes quite a difference in our celebration of Resurrection Day, which we call Easter. Our hearts become filled with a joy unspeakable as we contemplate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, a joy that finds expression in praise and thanksgiving to our dear God, Who hath raised Him from the dead, in singing and making melody in our hearts to the Lord. That constitutes a proper celebration of Easter.

In a broad sense, Easter is not merely the observance of one day, or of one season of the resurrection, and is full of pictures to remind us of it. Are we so busy that we fail to see them? Let us pause many times in the rush that living in the present day has become: pause, I say, to drink in the beauty with which God has surrounded us and meditate upon the resurrection of our Lord. That Christ is risen is strikingly pictured for us as we see nature awaken: the frozen streams and lakes again flow; the grass, trees, and plants come to life again, with a fresh, new green. The air is filled with the sweet incense of spring. The music of birds is everywhere. Everything that seemed dead has suddenly come to life. What a beautiful illustration of the resurrection, and yet, how often do we stop to think of it that way? Christ Himself uses a picture taken from spring in talking about His own coming death and resurrection when he says, “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” John 12:24. When we see the wheat coming up in the fields, are we reminded of these words? Does a song of praise burst from our lips because our Lord died on the cross for our sins, and was raised again the third day? God speaks to us in the language of spring and shows us a picture of the resurrection. May our response as children of God be a prayer of thanksgiving. Then we are beginning to celebrate Easter.

Of course the symbolism of spring, beautiful that it is, is not enough. We are not even able to read it perfectly. We must have the Word of God read in the Scriptures, and preached to us. So, as we read or hear the Easter story, although we have heard it countless times before, do not miss the wonder and the glory of that Resurrection morning. Rather, walk with the women, heavy of heart, to the sepulchre, as they go to do one last loving honor to the dead body of their Lord. Stand with them in amazement and fear as you see the angel sitting upon the great stone that had been in front of the tomb. Hear the words of the angel, “He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come see the place where the Lord lay.” And when you finish, don’t thrust it into some far corner of your mind. Remember, this is vital! This has to do with our hope! For Christ is the first-fruits. Our own resurrection is sure because “He tore the bars away.” Christ was raised for our justification, so that His resurrection is the seal that we stand righteous before God, and we may look forward in hope to the day when He will give us a glorified body, and we shall live with Him in perfection forever. No wonder our hearts thrill with joy at the angel’s words, “He is risen!” No wonder we feel like celebrating Easter!

And we do, don’t we? Of course we do. For our rejoicing and our thanksgiving are as sure as our salvation itself. The same God who justifies us also leads us on in the way of sanctification, so that He places the song of praise upon our lips, and He causes the prayers of thanksgiving to arise from our hearts. And though many things distract us, so that, as in everything else, our very commemoration of Easter is shot through with sin, the principle is there, nonetheless, the joy is there, and the song.

In the early days of the church, Christians used to keep a night-long vigil on the Saturday night before Easter. A cock-crowing the stillness of the early morning was shattered by the joyful shout, “The Lord is risen! The Lord is risen! The Lord is risen indeed!” So let us celebrate Easter. May we be knit together even more closely as the body of Christ, and let heart answer to heart, “The Lord is risen indeed!”