I was just watching the local news about the forecast for this Easter Sunday. When the newscaster was announcing the upcoming weather, he said it like, “And many Christians getting ready to celebrate Easter, which is supposedly the day Jesus Christ was raised from the dead…” I know this man personally and know he is a devout follower, but was forced to word it this way for political reasons. But it made me think, is this what it’s really about? Is Easter specifically to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, or is there more to the story?
When the Mel Gibson film came out, I went to see it with a church my friend belonged to. I remember watching it and just crying. Nearly the entire theater was crying. Everyone was just in awe of the suffering Jesus went through for our sins. I have not done research on this film to ensure its historical accuracy, but based on what I do know, it was pretty well factual. And that movie was great, but the death of Jesus was not about death. It was about life.
What does the cross mean? Over in my dad’s church, they have three tall crosses up on a hill overlooking the river. There’s even two donkeys roaming around, and the entire scene is just beautiful. Is the cross a fashion to be painted, or a pendant to be worn around the neck? Is it decoration for a church field? The universal logo for Christians? What is the cross? And what are we really celebrating on Easter?
Jesus tells us, “If any of you want to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” The idea of the cross wasn’t just invented when Jesus was crucified; the cross representing a certain suffering was already there. And Christ tells us that to be a follower, we must take up our cross and follow him. Jesus was forced to carry his own cross to the site of his death, and was beaten, spat on, slapped, and mocked the entire way. The path was painful and difficult, and Jesus was hurting and wounded. Maybe not literally, but isn’t that, in a sense, what Jesus has asked us to do?
2 Corinthians 12:10 is a quote from the apostle Paul, and he says, “I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” Are you glad to suffer for the sake of Christ’s name? Are you willing to step up to the plate without a moment’s hesitation? Are you ready to carry your cross? It’s not easy, for it’s said that the way is narrow and few will find it. You can lay down your cross at any time and quit. But will you be a Christian, be Christ-like, and carry your cross until the very end?
Jesus said that those who love their life will lose it, but those who hate their life will find it. And God gave up His son so that we may have that choice to follow him. We could decide to carry our cross like Jesus. The cross represents suffering, hardships, and pain. It also represents life. We will find our lives when we give them up for Christ. Paul was happy to suffer for Jesus. And it wasn’t easy. He even begged for God to remove the thorn from his side, to take the troubles away. And the Lord said, “My grace is sufficient. My power works best in weakness.” God is not blind to our crosses and our burdens. He even says to carry them so we can find our life!
Jesus carried his cross, was nailed to it, and then lived again. The cross represents suffering, death, and life. Easter Sunday is just the end of the story as we know it, but it’s all about the cross. It’s always been about the cross. Will you take up your cross and follow him? Will you give up your life so you can find it? Easter is about the cross, and everyone has one. What will you do with yours?
To all, happy Easter.