When I was a child (and in early youth as well), I always dreaded Lent. It meant an extra worship service for 6 weeks, and then a week of special services… Maundy Thursday, Good Friday… not a young child’s first choice. Easter always seemed like release from prison, especially if the weather was nice. I could play basketball or baseball after school on Wednesday nights, not get dressed for church. I’m ashamed to admit to this childish perspective now. Especially since I now look forward to Lent as time for deepening and enrichment of my faith, as I walk with Jesus to the cross, fully realizing Easter, with its promise of new life in Christ, comes quickly after crucifixion. It is a time to experience the amazing grace of a Savior Who willingly goes to that cross for me.
At some point in our imaginary walk to the cross, Jesus lets go of my hand and moves on alone. I become an observer of Jesus’ crucifixion. I do not experience the nails or the excruciating thirst or the terrible suffering, though my sinfulness says I really should. Jesus is taking on MY sin. He is enduring MY punishment. Why am I not there, suffering with Him? Of course, the answer is clear in Scripture. He is my ransom.
St. Paul says, “For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” (II Cor. 5:21). And Peter says, “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed.” (I Peter 2:24). I should be on that cross; Jesus is instead. “For You,” He says.
So Easter, celebrated on April 20, is God’s final declaration of triumph over my sin, my death, my condemnation. As Jesus arose, so will I — HIS PROMISE! Every day, in fact, is a “little Easter” in which God gives us His Spirit to lift us out of our enslavement to all wrongs and priorities, to live first and foremost for Him. God bless us all with this Good News!
-Pastor Paulus Pilgrim
For Faith Lutheran’s 2014 Holy Week and Easter Sunday worship times, click here.