The true meaning of Easter

By Judith Victoria Hensley

Plain Thoughts

The Easter of my childhood fell so far short of the real meaning of Easter. It symbolized Easter egg hunts and a prize egg with $5 inside. It meant getting a totally new outfit to wear to church with a hat, lace gloves and matching shoes and purse. It was a grand day when church was overflowing with people who wouldn’t be back until the annual Christmas play, most likely. It was all neat and pretty.

As an adult, I can no longer think of Easter joys without the terrible realization of what the Son of God suffered for sinners on the cross. How could God love us enough to send His only Son to take our place on the cross and in the grave for three days? How could Jesus agree to come to earth knowing what He must suffer and the end He would face on this planet?

I don’t understand the complete picture, but I know that humanity holds great value for God. We could not save ourselves. With so much sin in the world and the enemy of God constantly working to corrupt humankind and separate man from God, there had to be a supreme and perfect sacrifice that paid the ransom for us all. Jesus closed that gaping gulf between God and man.

Out of all of God’s creation, man holds the place of most precious in the heart of God. He created us in His image – living, breathing souls – with the ability to think, communicate, and make decisions. We are the only part of creation that has a will of our own to choose a relationship with God or reject Him. We are not puppets. We are not pre-programmed. We have the ability and the right to choose our own way.

What a gift! What a responsibility!

The Passion of Christ and what He suffered on His way to Calvary is a bloody, heart-wrenching picture. But He knew, and God knew what would follow the crucifixion three days later. On Easter morning, He rose again, up from the grave having overcome the power of death to these mortal bodies. With Him rose our salvation and our opportunity to choose life beyond this physical world we live in.

To me, Easter represents victory. It represents the impossibilities and limitations of mankind transformed through the love and power of God. We have hope for redemption and forgiveness. We have a promise that we, too, will overcome the power of death and the grave.

Even for those without faith in God, or the knowledge of Christ’s love, Easter is synonymous with Spring and rebirth. Flowers bloom, buds stretch open in the lengthening days, and trees put out their tender first leaves. The darkness and dreariness of winter disappears as the earth awakens to another season in the sunshine.

In the Song of Solomon, these words say it beautifully. “For behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.” (Song of Solomon 2:11-12)

Perhaps the best known Bible verse about changing seasons is found in Ecclesiastes 3:1-22. “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;…”

It is a time to embrace the glory of spring. Happy and blessed Easter to all.

Reach longtime Enterprise columnist Judith Victoria Hensley at judith99@bellsouth.net or on Facebook. Check out her blog: One Step Beyond the Door.