In a few days, it will be Easter Sunday, which, for many years now, has been the holiday I most look forward to celebrating. Growing up, it was customary in my family for the kids to get a new outfit for Easter and to wake up that morning to a basket full of candy. There was the special Friday evening service at church, and the traditional Easter sermon text on Sunday morning. When my nieces came along and were old enough, my parents would have an egg hunt at their house, followed by an Easter Sunday lunch with all the kids and grandkids. I recall as I grew up that I was most aware of Jesus’ death and resurrection during Holy Week and the Easter season, where special emphasis was placed on the subject. It’s been many years since the new outfits and baskets of candy, but the message highlighted during the Easter season is evermore worthy of time and reflection.
Sometimes my head gets cloudy and I feel like I’ve lost a sensitivity to what the resurrection means for me, means for us. I think of the Gospel and know that God raised Jesus from the dead and how by His death I am no longer under God’s wrath. How because Jesus defeated death there is hope for me, that I will not eternally die but eternally live because Jesus defeated death on the cross. I know that, I do. But if I’m truly honest with myself, I think too little about the resurrection of Jesus. Sometimes, I just forget. Recently, a dear elder from my church helped me to see through a children’s story how the resurrection of Jesus should matter to me.
You may be familiar with E. B. White’s children’s book Charlotte’s Web. The book tells the story of the friendships between a young girl, a pig, and a spider. The pig and the spider share a unique and touching relationship, and the close of the book still brings tears to my eyes. That’s when I discover anew that Charlotte, the beloved spider-friend and savior to Wilbur, is no longer. In her stead are three little girl spiders, taking residence in the barn where their mother used to live. When Wilbur discovers these three, he offers them this honest and tender expression:
“Welcome to the barn cellar. You have chosen a hallowed doorway from which to string your webs. I think it is only fair to tell you that I was devoted to your mother. I owe my very life to her.”
As my pastor read those lines, tears welled up in my eyes. I weep, because I too owe my very life to One I am devoted to: Jesus, the God-man, who humbled Himself, endured with joy the agony of the cross on our behalf. He stayed in the ground for three days and on the third day He got up. Alive! Jesus is alive, and because of His life, death, and resurrection, we can have peace with God. This wonderful truth will be the highlight on Easter Sunday when many people who may not regularly attend or even know Jesus are among us in our congregations.
There is the tacit understanding that there will be more people than normal attending Easter services. After all, it’s Easter and many people feel the need to go to church on this special day. To them we can echo Wilbur’s words: Welcome to our church, through these hallowed doorways. We can tell of our devotion to Jesus, how we owe our very lives to Him, how this is the day we especially look at His resurrection. But what about next Sunday? Will you come again next Sunday, when the new Easter clothes are hanging in the closet, when we’re burdened under the weight of sickness, pain, and sadness? We need the resurrection of Jesus to be spoken to us on that Sunday too.
We owe our very lives to Jesus. That is what we emphasis on Easter Sunday. That is what the Gospel does for us. It lifts us out of our chains and slavery and places us fully secure into the grasp of God’s salvation. Jesus has won for us life forever because of His resurrection.
I need to hear that every single Sunday, to sing that every single Sunday, and to believe that every single day. I need little Easter every Sunday and every day.