Easter won’t be the same this year, it’s true: we won’t gather in our churches, and many can’t celebrate with family. Our traditions may waver, and our hearts may grow sad looking ahead to a holiday affected by the coronavirus.
But the beauty of Easter remains.
Maybe it’s even intensified by this season.
You see, the Easter story’s main point is that Jesus rose from the dead. He humbly accepted a painful, dreadful death, then conquered it, along with all of sin and evil! The story is about life coming from death. The whole world feels a need for that right now. And the more I read it, the more profound this story becomes. There are so many reasons to celebrate!
Here are a few things that have stuck out to me recently:
Jesus’ suffering was real. It’s easy to become accustomed to the phrase “Jesus died on the cross for my sins.” It’s almost singsong-y, child-friendly. But when I read about what that really meant for Jesus, my heart breaks.
Jesus experienced awful anxiety as he waited for the soldiers to take him away. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he told his friends (Mt. 26:38). He asked God to take this fate away from him, if possible. It wasn’t. Once he was arrested, all his disciples deserted him and fled. Can you see the aching humanity and emotion he felt? This is not to mention the awful beatings and mockery he endured from the soldiers.
The mockery is hard for me to swallow. The soldiers slapped Jesus. Spit at him. They dressed him up as a king, did you know that? A scarlet robe, a crown made of thorns, and a staff in his hand. They bowed down in mockery, saying “Hail, king of the Jews,” only to rise and beat him with the staff. If only they’d known who he really was! The King of Creation!
Jesus submitted humbly to all of this, including a slow and agonizing death nailed to a cross. He did all of this even though he desperately didn’t want to. He acted out of obedience to God and love for us.
Jesus defeated death. Jesus rising from the dead has huge implications for us. It changed how humans relate to God forever. When he died, he took the punishment for all humanity’s sins upon himself. But when he rose again, he broke the power of sin and death, conquering these enemies. Because he rose again, our victory is in him.
We are made alive. Ephesians 2 says that before Jesus’ sacrifice, we were dead in our sins, blindly following satan and our own desires. Titus 3 says we were deceived and enslaved, being hated and hating one another.
But God has great mercy. He is kindness and love. So he made us alive with Christ. Do you see the imagery? When we trust Jesus as our Savior, our sins die with him. Just as he was dead, the things that used to enslave us and ruin us are also put to death. And just as he rose again, we are raised up with him in new life! This isn’t about dusting off a little sin in our lives. This is about Jesus turning dead people into alive people. A huge transforming work!
It’s not about our own goodness or merit. And that, friend, is truly good news. The work that Jesus did when he died and rose again is sufficient, and it applies to you no matter how bad you are. Jesus gives us his holiness and perfection as a gift. WE DON’T EARN IT FOR OURSELVES.
Easter isn’t a “new start” or a “second chance” for us. That language is for new year’s resolutions, and we all know how those usually go. We’re human: we’ll always, eventually, blow our second chances.
Instead, Easter is about Jesus pulling us up from our pit of death and hopelessness, and giving us new life that never fades or fails.
The work is finished. What Jesus did is once-for-all. He doesn’t have to die again when we sin too much more. The sacrifice doesn’t grow weaker as time goes on. No, it is finished. Firm and established.
Hebrews 10:12-13 says: “But when this priest [Jesus] had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool.”
He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. Psalm 103:12
We have a new identity. As we’ve talked about, Jesus’ sacrifice makes us alive. It also takes away all our sin. When God looks at us, he does not see our sin. That’s hard for me to believe sometimes, because I’m a perfectionist. I tend to focus too much on what I do wrong.
But we receive Jesus’ perfect identity. Hebrews 10:14 says, “For by one sacrifice he [Jesus] has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” We are made perfect, flawless. We are also made God’s children: adopted into his family.
We have a new purpose. We rest in Jesus’ work. We don’t have to earn love or prove ourselves. So, what do we do? Well, Hebrews 10:19-25 has a few instructions. We draw near to God with a sincerity and confidence. We hold unswervingly to our hope. We look outward instead of inward, seeking ways to encourage each other. We meet together (digitally too 😉) and push each other toward love and good deeds. Jesus’ sacrifice changes us, and changes our purpose in life.
So I ask you, friend: Might we find life coming even from this virus and death that surrounds us? Can we seek how God is purposing this time in our world? We have all seen how quickly our earthly hopes and securities can crumble. Everyone has seen this. I pray that people are more open than ever to hearing about the powerful work of Jesus this Easter. Celebrate joyfully, friends! He is risen, and that’s something to be excited about.
Hello family and friends! I’m dropping in during this strange time to give a scatterbrained, although hopefully God-honoring life update. It’s hard to know what to say during this pandemic because everyone is going through difficult times, yet each situation is so different. We’re all struggling with this, and I hope it pushes us closer to more dependence and trust in God.
This quote from Spurgeon is so applicable as I process the last few months: “We are too prone to engrave our trials in marble and write our blessings in sand.” The bad news, anxieties, and setbacks in life can feel so ultimate, and if we’re not careful, we’ll let them snuff out the joy of our many blessings. I want to engrave my blessings in marble, where I can celebrate them and remember God’s faithfulness reflected in them. With that said, I’d love to share what’s been happening in my life lately, as well as the hope I’ve been pointed back to repeatedly.
I’ll start this post with a blessing: I was accepted into MSUM’s graduate program for Speech Language Pathology! This was my top choice school because the professors, resources, and clinic are top-quality. I’m thrilled to be starting in the program this Fall. It’s also a blessing to know that Brian and I won’t have to move, because of this next update:
Brian’s New Job
Brian recently began working part time as a Youth Pastor Intern at the church I grew up in. This has been so exciting and sweet! It’s great to see him do what he loves to do and went to college for. This is a desire we’d prayed about for 6 months before receiving the opportunity. God is good!
Life during the Coronavirus
More recently though, life has been strange (relatable, right?). The whole world has changed, and I find myself bouncing between many emotions and anxieties as I process it all.
In early-mid March I caught a cold that persisted and worsened over two weeks. I was freaked out and constantly analyzing my symptoms, but finally figured out it was a sinus infection. Whew!
After that went away, Brian started feeling not-so-great. His symptoms included a fever, which turned into a cough over time. After talking to nurses on the phone a few times, we decided he should be tested for COVID. The doctors said the results could take up to 7 days, so we stayed away from each other and prayed a lot.
Some things really drive you to prayer, and this was one for me. I didn’t fully feel the seriousness of this virus until it came so close to home. Brian’s test came back negative just two days later, which we’re still praising God for! The period of worry, waiting, and separateness felt so long, even though it wasn’t.
This opened my eyes to the reality of people’s anxiety and pain over this virus. Every single person who’s been affected matters. I want to continue praying just as seriously against this pandemic as I was when we thought Brian had it.
What about our wedding?
That’s a great question. This is the biggest thing in my life that’s been affected by the virus. Having the date set on May 30 made it feel like a non-question back in early March. But as we see the problem persist, we’ve had some hard conversations.
I’ve slowly come to accept that my wedding day may look vastly different from the day I’ve been planning and dreaming about for over a year. It may just be us, our Pastor, and our immediate families. Many of our pre-wedding events have been cancelled, and the honeymoon is also in question. My emotions have varied a ton, from “I have a surprising amount of peace right now!” to crying uncontrollably on the phone with my mom. There are just so many pieces of the day that may need to change drastically.
But, of course, there are blessings even here. I still get to marry Brian! While we’ve taken turns being sick, I’ve seen how beautiful it is to care for and support each other in hard times. This is just one thing I’m looking forward to in marriage! I’m also reminded that yes, a wedding is mostly about the marriage that follows. This is a belief I hold, but I feel like it’s being especially tested right now.
Well, friends, that’s my little update. I’m also becoming more and more excited about Easter as the day approaches. What better time to celebrate Jesus’ power and authority over all things? Let’s keep seeking our peace and security in Him!
Hello! I'm Anna, a college student living in the Midwest. I'm a strong believer in uncontrollable laughter, powerful words, and a morning cup of coffee. I pray these posts will encourage you to live a full life with and for God: unhindered. Follow me on social media for post updates!