Easter means that no matter how many times I screw up, no matter how much I disobey, no matter how much I neglect, I am graciously given another chance. And it’s accompanied by open arms.
I hate to admit it, but Easter is all too easy for me to overlook. You hear the same stories year after year, so much so that you could tell it in your sleep. You know the order of events, you know the hardships that were faced, you know the words spoken and betrayals committed. It never looses its weight, but I lose my bearings on that weight.
Too often, I wish I could return to a childlike faith. The story was new, and the story was beautiful. There is beauty in it still, but I now have such a greater understanding of that pain. And that pain isn’t fun to dwell on.
At different times and years, different aspects of the story linger. What remains at the forefront is one particular line:
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?“
Imagine this. Imagine being impossibly close to someone, so close that they are a part of your very being. They fathered you, and yet they are you. You know their heart truer than anyone ever can. And then, suddenly, you are separated from them in the most brutal of ways. What defines separation, what creates it becomes your very nature. Imagine every single bad thing that could ever and will ever happen laying on your shoulders at one exact moment. What you have lived your life denying, what you have proven to be possible to withhold from. And you have. You have lived pure and whole and complete. You have done no wrong. And yet, willingly, you take every wrong that every single other person has ever done. You, without fault, become the culmination of all faults. You, for the first time, feel forsaken from your father. From your Lord.
There are times when I can hardly handle the sins and separation I feel within one day. To imagine all of my sins separating me, paying the price for all of them at one time? I can’t imagine that. I literally can’t. My heart, my body wouldn’t be able to withstand that kind of pain. And yet, to amplify that for each one of us? To combine them? To feel the separation of them all? There is no way our intelligence can comprehend what that truly is like.
He would have done it for just me. I wholeheartedly believe that. If he was only saving me, he still would have done it. But he didn’t, he did it for everyone. He did it for those that hate him, that curse his name, that reject him and refuse him and deny his existence. That despise him. He did it for those that hate the idea of him. I cannot understand that love. I can hear it, I can even feel it at times, but I can’t understand it. That love is the purest, the most all-encompassing. And to think of a father’s love, sending his son, only to know the kind of pain that will be inflicted. I’m no parent, but I have seen a parent’s love. To think of the pain my mom and dad would feel to even imagine me burdened like that.
Yet the Lord was willing, his son was willing, because they believe we are worth it. Just one of us is worth it.
This is Easter. This is sacrifice, but this is the ultimate display of love. This is the literal punishment for every sin ever committed.
And this is victory. This is receiving the punishment, and this is overcoming. This is saying that Satan has no baring on our lives. That he can do nothing to us that our Lord cannot fight. And this is knowing that every time he tempts us, the price of that has already been paid and our hearts have already been redeemed.
Because of Easter, we can be whole and blameless and pure.
Because of this, we know love.