Have Our Affections Grown Cold to The Meaning of Easter?
Every year, around this time, we celebrate Easter and remember the resurrection of our Lord and Savior from the tomb. Stores are flooded with Easter items, and churches are packed to the rafters; families gather for Sunday lunch-and maybe an Easter egg hunt- then promptly jump back into their regular routines. With each passing year, evangelicals appear less interested in Jesus, and more consumed with the things of the world. It is not a pagan holiday (though a quick scroll through the socials may have you thinking otherwise): yet, it seems we have given it over to unbelievers to make it their own. Have our affections toward the true meaning of Easter grown cold?
Today, sadly, so many professing evangelicals attend services as a matter of tradition or formality -a mere checking off of the ol' "high holy day" to-do list. But Easter is so much more important. Easter is the time of year for the Christian community when we celebrate our Lord's resurrection and consequent salvation of a people otherwise condemned.
Yet so many churches have strayed so far that Easter services are more like a fantastic carnival of worldly delight: stadium-style music performances, complete with fog machines and laser light shows, paired with stirring cinematic productions that boast far more of the talents -and budget - of the AV team than of the gospel.
The Easter service kicks off, and the rock show begins; but, the message fails to convict: "Jesus died for you because He loves you -He loves you just the way you are! He rose from the grave so you could rise above your troubles! Somebody say 'Amen!"
Unbelievers mock us; Easter is nothing special...it's just another holiday to enjoy. Sure, we'll enjoy time with family and make room for a special meal -and don't forget the obligatory "He has risen, indeed social media post -but, will we consider the weight of what we claim to celebrate? Are our affections towards the significance of Easter waning? Are we forgetting what it is that our Savior has done?
One of the greatest giants that God ever gave to the church was the puritan divine Jonathan Edwards. Edwards wrote,
Of all kinds of knowledge that we can ever obtain, the knowledge of God, and the knowledge of ourselves, are the most important. As religion is the greatest business for which we are created, and on which our happiness depends; and as religion consists in an intercourse between ourselves and our Maker; and so has its foundation in God's nature and ours, and in the relation that God and we stand in to each other; therefore a true knowledge of both must be needful, in order to true religion.
Easter is about much more than the resurrection, although that is the point. We celebrate what God has done for us. Edwards writes that the knowledge about us and our Creator and religion (Christianity) is that which we are created for -and that this true knowledge is needed in order to make our faith true. We must believe our source of truth: the sacred Scriptures. In the pages of Scripture, we see that man's fundamental problem is sin and rebellion against our Creator since the fall.
In ancient Israel, blood sacrifices were required for the forgiveness of sins. God placed so much importance upon the propriety of sacrifice that, when Aaron's sons brought strange fire before the Lord, He consumed them (Lev. 10:1-2). What follows helps us to understand the importance of Easter: "then Moses said to Aaron, "It is what the Lord spoke, saying, 'By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy. And before all the people I will be honored™ (Lev. 10:3).
God is holy and righteous. He is a just God who will not withhold His wrath and fury indefinitely. The author of Hebrews writes "It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (10:31); and the gospel reminds us of what Christ has done for us: "For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly" (Rom. 6:5). We were helpless indeed, but now we have a mediator who allows us full access to God.
At God's appointed time, Christ died for the ungodly. He bore the wrath of God; He bore our transgressions and iniquities. We, the ungodly, are like the thief on the cross: by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, for the glory of God alone, we also say "Remember me when You come in Your kingdom!" (Luke 23:42).
Of course this all seems fitting at Easter; the focus shifts and Christians around the world recall and rejoice. But, shouldn't the daily petition to the Christian be to remind his or herself that they were purchased with the blood of Christ? If one sees fit to attend at only Easter or Christmas, one must examine themselves. Lukewarm is not what you want to be the day you meet Jesus.
Our Lord lived a life of perfect obedience, was tempted at every point, betrayed, fulfilled the Law of God, fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies, taught new revelation, lived a sinless life, was truly God and truly man, and proclaimed the coming kingdom until His death. Then He rose from the grave. Paul writes in his epistle to the Romans, "...who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord" (v.4).
When God the Holy Spirit raised our Lord Jesus from the tomb, it was God's declaration to the world that this was His Son. By what evidence do we believe that Jesus is the Son of God? By the testimony of God, who has declared Him to be the Son through the power of the resurrection. This wonderful testimony of God's redemptive history -from Genesis to the present, should warm our affections toward our Redeemer who has called us out of the world to be slaves for Him.
If we are only going to church certain times of the year..if our affections don't stir under the preaching of word as they should... if we are feeling obligated to attend church... if we are only going for the feel-good, affirming experience, all while unbelievers enjoy this holiest of days... then has the meaning of Easter lost its significance for all evangelicals?
Most certainly not! I pray not! But we all must come with a heart that is both contrite and full of thanksgiving. Seek first the kingdom of God and His Righteousness. Hold a high view God for what was accomplished on our behalf -and continues to be accomplished according to His will. Continue to study His word and grow deeper in love and affection for our Lord and Savior.
As this year's remembrance of Easter comes and goes, let us not have come together merely
for means of friendly gathering, but corporately, with the saints, rejoicing that Christ has risen. He accomplished what we couldn't and reconciled us to God while we were still enemies. Praise be to God! Happy Easter, saints!
Edwards, J. (2017). A careful and strict inquiry into the prevailing notions of the
freedom of the will. The Banner of Truth Trust. Carlisle, PA. (Originally published 1754).
NAB Bible 1995 (2022) Bible Gateway. https://www.biblegateway.com