Happy Easter from Mississippi College! We hope you’re enjoying your Easter weekend with family and friends, celebrating what God has done for us and who He is to us.
Many of us know that today is the day when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ and thank Him for what He did for us. But sometimes this day can turn into one of those ‘going through the motions” days and it loses its significance. So, how we can celebrate Easter every year without becoming desensitized to what Easter means for us? For me, I go back to the very beginning of my walk with God.
I grew up in a Pastor’s home and had never missed a single Sunday morning, Sunday evening, or Wednesday night service. I knew that God was real and I believed that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for us, but I had never really experienced His love in my heart - I was just going through the motions and doing my best to make sure I would eventually make it to heaven. It wasn’t until a Good Friday service when I was eight years old that I actually experienced God’s presence for the first time.
This Good Friday service wasn’t like a usual church service. For this service, we were to go at our own pace through all the elements of Christ’s crucifixion and have a time of prayer and worship at the end. My family and I went through the service together and my dad explained what each element was and how they were used:
This is the crown of thorns that they placed on Jesus’ head.
This is what they used to whip Jesus before they hung Him on the cross.
These are the nails they hammered into His hands and feet.
This is the ‘drink’ they tried to give Jesus when He was thirsty.
This is the spear they used to pierce His side.
I remember feeling like my heart was beating out of my chest as I tried to picture these things being used on Jesus - who had done nothing wrong. I never thought about how long and sharp the thorns were on the ‘crown’ placed on Jesus’ head. I never realized that the whip used to torture Jesus had leather straps with sharp prongs on the ends that surely tore into His flesh. I never imagined that the nails used to hold Jesus to the cross were long, thick, and dull. I had always imagined that they had given Jesus water to drink – not bitter vinegar. How could I have skipped over all of this? I was ashamed and guilty. At eight years old, I knew it should’ve been me.
At this point, we had reached the end of the table. I looked to my right and saw a cross. My dad explained that we were to take a nail and hammer it into the cross. I knew what this meant. This was to remind us that it wasn’t just the Roman soldiers who nailed Jesus to the cross – it was us, too.
I began to hammer the nail into the cross while I tried to picture Jesus on it. All I could think to say was, “Jesus, I’m so sorry” as tears streamed down my face. There was something so powerful that happened as I said “I’m sorry,” over and over again. I felt Jesus hugging me and telling me it was alright. I realized, in that moment, that Jesus had done this not just for everyone, but for me. I think that’s something we tend to forget. Yes, Jesus died for all of us, but that means that He died for you and that He died for me. Isn’t that amazing?
My prayer for all of us is that we never become desensitized to what our Jesus has done for us. May we never forget what He went through just so we could all be together in the end. His blood, His bruises, His tears – all for us. God is real and the story we tell on Easter isn’t just a story, it’s a reminder of how much we are loved and how far God will go to save even just one of us.
As you celebrate Easter with your family, I want to encourage you to think about Jesus and all that He has done for you – not just on the cross so many years ago, but even now. Think about how He has comforted you in your times of trouble. Reflect on how He has helped you grow. Most of all, revel in the fact that Jesus is ALIVE and He is consistently fighting for you!
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ dies for us. (Romans 5:8, NIV)
Learning to take up my cross daily,