Sometimes I think we get it all so very wrong. Go to almost any store at this time of year and you will know what I am saying. You will see fuzzy, cuddly, stuffed-toy bunnies and duckies. Drive down the road and you will see Easter Egg Trees, and never mind that bunnies don’t lay eggs and that eggs don’t grow on trees. We decorate our halls and our sanctuary with chicks and baby animals and have Easter Egg Hunts. And the church looks absolutely beautiful with all of the Easter lilies adorning the cross. I know these are all symbols of new life and are here to remind us of new life found in Jesus, but I can’t help but wonder if a lot of what we do at Easter is done to keep this day safe and tame, to make Easter cute and cuddly.
Easter is not cute and cuddly. It didn’t happen in the candy aisle; it happened in a graveyard. There were angels and earthquakes and women and men running this way and that, scared out of their minds. Mary, the mother of God, saw her son die. How could the one who brought others back to life, die? On Easter, gruff soldiers cowered in fear, cowering disciples become men of boldness, men trembling behind locked doors began their march to the ends of the earth, men afraid of dying became men who were willing to give their very lives to help others come to the faith and hope and joy that they had. On Easter, a tomb became a womb offering new life to all who would believe!
No wonder we look to cute little bunnies and decorated eggs to pretty this day up. Who knows what would happen if we truly encountered Jesus? Peter encountered Jesus and he ended up crucified upside-down on a cross. Talk about a symbol of what happens when someone encounters Jesus, there it is. The Pharisee, Saul, met Jesus and everything changed, including his name. Mountains get moved when Jesus crosses our paths. Easter can be terrifying, maybe even “should be.” People who give their lives to God end up in lions’ dens and fiery furnaces. People who give their lives to God end up fighting giants with rocks and slings and don’t even get to wear any armor. People who give their lives to God lose their careers, like Saul did, and the fishermen did. People who give their lives to God end up on crosses dying for the very people who are killing them.
Are you ready for that kind of Easter? An earth-quaking, life-shaking, turn-your-world-upside-down kind of Easter? It’s the only kind of Easter Jesus offers. Thank God! Pastor Steve