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Easter 2005 is over and gone, but it is still worth reflecting on the realities of Easter.
Mention Easter delight and most people will immediately think of chocolate Easter eggs and other chocolate goodies. That’s the power of advertising. Images of fluffy bunnies, colourfully painted eggs, and chocolate everywhere have become common images of Easter. (Aussie Easter Bilbies are struggling to make it in the advertising image stakes!)
All this makes for an Easter that is a child’s delight (as well as a delight for the chocolate and retail industries).
However, Easter is NOT all about warm, fluffy, mouth-watering child delights. The real images of Easter are not for children. The real images of Easter are brutal, bloody and violent. The real images of Easter cause offence, denial and rejection. The real images of Easter don’t receive Hollywood Oscars. The real images of Easter don’t allow marketing opportunities for movie spin-offs with toys, figurines, trading cards, or other souvenirs.
Mel Gibson produced a movie, ’The Passion of the Christ’, in time for Easter 2004. He tried to make it realistic and reveal the human cruelty, as well as the human pain and suffering, that is part of the real Easter imagery. He didn’t win any Oscars for his movie, even though it was one of the highest grossing box office movies of 2004. He adapted his movie for Easter 2005 as a somewhat softer, less graphically violent, version of his original ’Passion’. However, even the adapted version will remind viewers that the real images of Easter were far from pleasant.
Yet in the midst of the real images of brutal cruelty, suffering and humility, there is an over-riding image of delight centred in the love of God.
The Apostle John reminds us, ’For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned.’ (John 3:16-18)
Why should God love humanity, each one of us, to the point where he sent his son to die for us, in order to save us?
Sometimes, you and I might arrogantly think we are good enough to deserve God’s love and attention. We might even compare ourselves with others and regard ourselves as better and more deserving. At other times we have a saner, more realistic perception of ourselves and recognise we are far from perfection, especially God’s perfection. Sometimes we may even feel we are insignificant and unworthy.
It is then that God surprises us once again. We discover he thinks that, in spite of all our many imperfection, we are delightful to him. As the Psalmist puts it: ’He rescued me because he delighted in me.’ (NIV) ’Because he delights in me, he saved me.’ (NCV) (Ps. 18:19b)
As preacher and writer, Max Lucado, commented in his book, A Gentle Thunder (1995):
’And you thought he saved you because of your decency. You thought he saved you because of your good works or good attitude or good looks. Sorry. If that were the case, your salvation would be lost when your voice went south or your works got weak. There are many reasons God saves you: to bring glory to himself, to appease his justice, to demonstrate his sovereignty. But one of the sweetest reasons God saved you is because he is fond of you. He likes having you around. He thinks you are the best thing to come down the pike in quite awhile. “As a man rejoices over his new wife, so your God will rejoice over you.” (Isaiah. 62:5)
If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. If he had a wallet, your photo would be in it. He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning. Whenever you want to talk, he’ll listen. He can live anywhere in the universe, and he chose your heart. And the Christmas gift he sent you in Bethlehem? Face it, friend. He’s crazy about you.’
God’s Christmas gift, his son Jesus Christ, came with a purpose. That purpose was fulfilled at Easter. ’God so loved the world’ — that includes you and me. The grim realities of Good Friday break out with resurrection glory on Easter Sunday - both affirming that God delights in you.
YOU are God’s Easter delight. Is God YOUR Easter (and every day) delight?
(From TACL Vol 26 #2 March/April 2005)