Easter: familiar and important

Easter: familiar and important

After a while, we get used to things. Think about the last time you moved house or bought a car. When you first had these things, it was all exciting and new. You noticed new aspects of them regularly. You found yourself thanking God for these great gifts. Yet, after a while, you got used to them. It’s not like you don’t appreciate having the house to live in or the car to drive. You have just had them for so long that you no longer get excited about them. Perhaps you even start to notice all of the problems with them instead of being thankful for their good aspects.

Easter can be like that for Christians. A few years ago, I saw a woman who had recently become a Christian come to church for her first Easter. She was so happy to be there. She sang the songs with gusto, listened intently, and found the whole experience very moving and helpful for her faith. She felt with a passion what Jesus had (recently) done for her. I realised that I don’t often feel that excited about Easter. I have been to a great many Easter services now. Sure, I enjoy them, there are so many good songs to sing, but I easily get used to them.

If you go to a Bible teaching church, you know what you will hear in the sermons at Easter services. On Good Friday, the preacher will talk about Jesus’ death. On Easter Sunday, the preacher will talk about the resurrection of Jesus. You know what you are going to get. Sure, this can be done from a range of different passages, but you know what the message will be. It might be expressed in different ways, but the message is that Jesus died and rose again in our place so we can be right with God. It is the core message of Christianity and the message proclaimed at Easter.

The temptation for people who have been Christians for a long time is to think: again? I know this stuff! I could probably preach this message! (And yes, you probably could). I would like to hear something I don’t already know!

It is at that point that we should pause that internal thought. Being a Christian is not always about learning new information. We have a great urge towards novelty, to always be learning new things. Yet, as Paul affirms in his prayer for the Ephesians, our greatest need is not always to know more information:

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith– that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

                                                                          (Eph. 3:14-19 ESV)

Do you think that the Ephesian Christians had no idea that Christ loved them? Of course they knew this! Yet Paul prayed that this truth might be something that they knew more deeply than they did already. They needed to reflect on it, and think about it, and pray about it, and live it out.

So yes, you will hear a familiar message at Easter if you’ve been a Christian for a while. But you and I need to hear it again. In a world that cries out that we are worth so much, we need to hear that we fall short of God’s standards. In a world that says that you can find your purpose in whatever selfish desire you choose, we need to hear that there is only one way to be saved.

Easter is familiar and important. Let’s celebrate with gusto because Jesus died for us and rose again!