Spring! Warm, sunny weather. . . soft breezes . . . a lovely fragrance in the air . . . birds chirping . . . flowers blooming . . . and Easter!
As a child I loved Easter! Mom was always especially pretty in her new dress and shoes, and sometimes wore a corsage to enhance it all. She always made sure we kids were dressed up in new clothes, too. The prettiest dresses for my sisters and me were bought at Easter time. My little brother always had an extra cute outfit, too.
Easter baskets awaited us when we awoke on Easter morning. There was always an Easter egg hunt at church, and many times, we ate “dinner on the ground” after the special Easter service. An Easter cantata or Easter play and special music was always on the agenda.
What child wouldn’t love Easter with all that going on?
Yet I was very blessed that I was taught from the time I was a toddler that Easter was about Jesus. How He died on the cross and rose from the dead three days later. For me. Well, for all the world, but I was a little child when I started learning about what Jesus did and, like most children, I was mainly concerned how it affected me.
The Easter bunny and chicks, the candy, the egg hunts, the yummy food and fellowship . . . they were extra things we enjoyed. But Easter was about Jesus.
It was quite a few years before I realized that Jesus suffered cruelly when He gave His life for us. The Sunday School pictures on the flannel board depicted Jesus on a cross, but there was no blood pouring from his hands or from the thorns on his head. He was God’s Son. As a little child, I didn’t realize that it hurt Him; that He was beaten until He was unrecognizable; that the thorns which made up His crown were sharp and cruel; that He was ridiculed; that the nails driven into Him were as much torture for Him as they would be for me. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. How could anything really hurt the Son of God?
Then came the day when I comprehended the truth. When Jesus was born on earth, He was fully God, yet fully man. He got tired. He got hungry. When He stubbed His toe, it hurt. When He cut His finger, it bled. He was flesh and blood.
Easter had a whole new meaning for me when I truly understood the sacrifice Jesus made when He went to the cross.
I was in seventh grade when I first remember hearing the song, “The Old Rugged Cross.” My mom and my sister sang a beautiful duet. I was amazed at how good they sounded, and I was touched by the words of the song:
“So, I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, Til my trophies at last I lay down,
I will cling to the old rugged cross, And exchange it some day for a crown.”
Have you seen the movie “The Passion of the Christ?”
It is more realistic than any movie I’ve seen about the crucifixion of Jesus. When the soldiers beat Him mercilessly and pushed the crown of thorns into His head so that He was blinded by blood, I could hardly bear to watch it. When the nails were pounded into His hands and feet, I felt every blow. When the cross was lifted and thudded into the hole dug for it, I jumped. My tears flowed. Sometimes, I covered my eyes; it was so hard to bear. We were in a packed theater, so I tried not to make a spectacle of myself. But when I watched the movie again in the privacy of my home, it hit me just as hard, and I sobbed out loud. It was such a realistic, heart-breaking depiction of Jesus’ crucifixion . . . a far cry from flannel board figures.
It made me appreciate Jesus and His sacrifice of love more than ever. And, in the movie, when He rose from the grave, it sent chills all over my body. I wanted to shout “Hallelujah” right there in the theater. We did clap!
But when I watched it privately, I cried; I shouted “Hallelujah” over and over again; I laughed with joy; I did a little victory dance in His honor.
The older I get, the more I appreciate Jesus’ sacrifice. I’m humbly grateful and very happy He has forgiven my sins! I’m eager to see Him one day in Heaven, our victorious King!
He is risen! He is risen, indeed!