I sat on the edge of the bed with Bella Easter morning and read from her “Toddler’s Bible,” a gift from our church when she was dedicated. Though it didn’t show in my voice, I was anxious as I got to the part where Jesus was crucified. Before I picked up the book and began to read, I was excited to tell Bella that Jesus was raised from the dead, but didn’t think the story all the way through (remember how Jesus was crucified on Friday, Brian?). Each Easter morning when we walk into church, I always wonder what the Pastor will say. I put myself in his position (I would use gender inclusive language there, but I’ve never heard an Easter sermon given by a woman) and think about the difficulty of shedding fresh and meaningful light on the greatest story ever told. These pastors typically do a good job despite the difficulty. Their next challenge should be to tell the passion narrative to a toddler. How do you explain resurrection to a toddler who doesn’t even know about death? What an enviable position my daughter is in – she has no comprehension about death in this world. She is ignorant to her own mortality. I immediately thought back to the story of creation and the first sin – thinking that Adam and Eve were in the same position as my daughter; ignorant of death. But then remembered the instructions were clear: if you eat of the fruit of that tree, you will die. There will come a day when we have to explain the reality of death to Bella. But on this day, I am completely content with proclaiming the reality of the resurrection. “Jesus is alive!” she says… over and over again, carrying over to the next day. My daughter has shed light on Matthew 21:16 for me: “From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise.”
It took some teaching, however, for Bella to arrive at that conclusion. “Jesus died, but on the third day… do you know what happened on the third day, Bella?” “The Easter Bunny came?” My daughter is hilarious. I’m wondering, however, if the Santa’s and Easter Bunny’s of the world aren’t just fun, little, meaningless things to do with our children anymore. The reality is these things take the place of our reflection and praise of Jesus. And anything that robs Jesus of his full glory is something that should give us pause.
Lastly, as we were driving to church, Gia shed some light on the resurrection in a way that I had never thought about. Imagine, she says, that this morning we were going to grave of a good friend who died only two days ago. Imagine the grief, sorrow, and utter confusion we would be experiencing. Imagine the pride we would have to buy the best flowers, thinking of the moment we would place them on the grave to honor our dead friend. Perhaps we would only feel grief, but we would undoubtedly swap stories about or friend: how funny, intelligent, passionate, and inspiring he or she was. The nerves would take over, however, as we walked from the car to the grave, facing the reality that we would never be able to have another conversation or enjoy the company of our close friend. Then as we approach the grave, there is no body there. Your friend lies in the grave no longer. He is alive and well. That is essentially what the women experienced on the morning they went to visit Jesus in his tomb. On this Easter my only hope is that anyone who might be reading this will sit for a few moments at least, and ponder the reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. What does that mean for you? What does that mean for the world? The situation you find yourself in right now is this: either this story is probably the greatest fabrication and lie ever told to you, or it is real and a man really did die and resurrect from the grave. If it is false, just keep living how you are. If it is true, however, think about what that would mean for you, and for the entire world.