While many people’s favorite holiday is Christmas or Thanksgiving, mine is Easter.
I can remember from a very early age the excitement surrounding it. The first neck tie I ever wore was for Easter Sunday, and I loved seeing people in their Sunday best (especially the Easter bonnets!). Some of the greatest Christian hymns and songs are dedicated to Easter. I even enjoy the customary foods and treats, as simple as that sounds.
From the time of being a boy until today, I have always eagerly awaited Easter Sunday. This year though, I had to ask myself, what am I doing to get ready for Easter?
There is a powerful phrase in the liturgical tradition around Easter time in which the congregation says “Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again.”
Too often, we Baptists let Easter sneak up on us. In fact, if we are not careful, it is easy to forget to think about Jesus in the days leading up to Easter Sunday.
One advantage, if we were forced to admit, of the more liturgical Christian denominations is that they tend to take good care to memorialize the days leading up to Easter. By this I refer mainly to Palm Sunday and Good Friday, but also Maundy Thursday.
In our reactions against high church tendencies and approaches, I wonder if we are missing out on something good. Now, I am in no way suggesting a departure from our Baptist distinctive beliefs and heritage. I am, however, talking about remembering Christ and His sacrifice and atonement at every turn.
On Palm Sunday, which we just passed, we remember Our Lord as He entered Jerusalem on a colt that had never been ridden. The King of Kings came in a humble way, knowing He would soon face an agonizing death. The multitudes rejoiced shouting “Hosana! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” and the Scriptures remind us that if had they been silent, the very stones would have cried out!
In Maundy Thursday, which some Southern Baptists actually do observe, we remember the final night on which Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper. Imagine what it would be like to have been there in the Upper Room, with Christ’s followers on the night He was betrayed. Imagine hearing the sound of the crackling bread as it is broken and blessed and thinking of Jesus’ broken body. Imagine the sound of the fruit of the vine as it is poured in the cup, representing His shed blood. Many churches observe the Lord’s Supper in the days leading up to Easter. This is a good thing, the Scriptures tell us.
Good Friday, is not just another day off work for some lucky people. We have God’s Friday. This is the day that forever changed eternity, as the sinless sacrifice reconciled us to God, offering full remission of sins to all who repent and trust Him. My, what a Savior! Surely one day a year set aside as a holiday is not too much to ask. After all, the word holiday is a compound word for Holy Day, and holy means “set apart” and Good Friday surely qualifies as just that.
While each of these days is of utmost importance, were it not for Easter Sunday, we would be most miserable of all men. But thanks be to God, the Gospel is true. Christ has died! Christ has risen! And Christ will come again!
This Easter, we at the Baptist Messenger encourage us all to prepare our hearts in greater ways to experience anew these glorious truths and our True Savior.