What does Easter Mean to … you? (or me, for that matter). An interesting question, is it not? Of course how you answer it depends entirely on your belief, or lack of. And I believe that the source of the answer can be broken down into three categories. A – Jesus was raised from the dead. B—Jesus was not raised from the dead. C—Not sure if he was raised from the dead or not, maybe so but then again …
(I skipped apathy because that sort of speaks for itself. If you don’t care one way or the other, then you don’t. Not a lot you can do with that. So I don’t care about that – and please note the intentional irony there.)
So we’ll start with C – Not too much to say about that because with that sort of perspective Easter is kind of nice but not all that essential. It’s pleasant but not all that significant. Although folks who feel that way may secretly wish they could believe in the resurrection, they just can’t bring themselves to accept that as a reality.
However don’t imagine for a moment that many of us who consider ourselves believers are completely free from doubt when it comes to the resurrection. There are still times when we have difficulty with how fantastic the whole notion is – somebody rose from the dead, really? And we’re not talking about Jesus as a zombie. Nope, he wasn’t merely undead, he was as alive as you and I are. (Depending on how alive you feel, I suppose.) So doubters take heart – I’m prone to believe that honest doubt may well be the path to discovering real faith. Or perhaps to put it another way – out of searching, wondering, wandering and questioning sometimes one can catch a glimmer of light. Remember that old spiritual – “This little light of mine” …
Okay, on to B – Resurrection didn’t happen, it’s a trick, a myth, a scam, a … you may fill in the blank with whatever negative response you see fit. And whereas not all who espouse these thoughts are cynical, angry skeptics, some are. And you know if I believed what they believe I can see how they could get ticked off.
“To think someone is trying to insult my intelligence, to con me, to take me for a simpleton, to “sell me a bill of goods” and expect me to swallow the whole thing just because they say it’s so – well, I’m not going to do it. Moreover they condemn me because I won’t go along with the deception. They behave in a very hateful way and won’t even bother to hear my side of things. Well, count me out. I’ve got no use for that sort of attitude.” (By the way, neither did Jesus.)
For the B folks Easter is, at best, Peter Rabbit, Easter egg hunts, Spring awakening (though not necessarily in Texas), maybe some pastels, pretty flowers and Irving Berlin’s hit song, “Easter Parade”. It’s nothing much more than that. Sadly, it can’t be, really.
Here is where I want to point out that this bit of scribbling has not been created to convince you that I’m right and you’re wrong. Nope, that’s not my job and not my purpose in laying out these particular paragraphs. If I truly am to treat you in a Christ like manner then that means allowing you to choose whether to believe or not – not brow beat you into thinking the way I want you to think. Here again – that’s not the way Jesus dealt with folks in His ministry – brow beating was not on His list of how to do things. And since he set the standard, well then …
Now we come to the A people, people who do believe that Jesus was in fact raised from the dead on Easter morn. For us the event was real. It happened and it was/is life changing. Now I’ll pause a minute or so as to avoid going into “church speak”, lest this part sound like the “pitch” for a bargain I’m trying to get you to buy into.
Okay, let me digress for a moment.
When I thought about writing down the preceding paragraphs it was obvious to me that at some point I needed to answer the question for myself “What does Easter mean to me, today?” Remarkable as it may seem, this was not as easy to answer as I thought it would be – short of just giving a kind “knee jerk” reaction. And so here’s my answer to the question I started out with.
Easter means nothing stops God from doing what He decides to do and that includes death. God has a way of bringing new life out of destruction, despite what it may look like to begin with. Anyone who saw what happened on the Cross when Jesus died would not have stood up and sung “Victory in Jesus”. Not then – but later, after the resurrection they could and would. Easter means the same God who raised Jesus from the dead can raise my spirits when their low, give me hope when it’s hard to find hope, give me a peace that really makes no sense in light of the circumstances, make me believe in the impossible because with Him impossible is just a word and most importantly help me believe that’s God’s big enough to … (fill in the blank.)
So I’ll leave you with this to ponder – Jesus being raised from the dead was either the greatest event in human history or it was the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the human race. You get to decide. We all do. What does Easter mean to you?
Happy Resurrection Day
George Gagliardi, March 2016