Chocolate eggs, fluffy chicks, Easter bunnies and a reminder of Roman execution. Its difficult to see how it all fits together. Another one of the great mysteries of western consumerism perhaps?
Jesus Christ had his own questions about Easter, for very different reasons though. As he waited in a secluded place to be arrested, talking with his Father in heaven, he struggled to face what was to come. The weight of responsibility was almost over whelming; - take this cup from me - yet not my will but yours be done. Is this a road I have to go down? Is this a price that has to be paid by me? Maybe there is another way, maybe this last temptation is not such a bad idea.
The road to the eventual torture and execution, at an out of town rubbish dump littered with human remains, was by no means an easy one for Jesus to take. Neither do I believe it was one forced upon him. After all, it was a journey of pain and suffering. But amid all the pain what hurt the most?
Was it the nails that shattered his bones that stapled him to a tree? Was it the thorns that were pushed into his head or the lumps that were ripped out of his back by scourges and whips? Or was it more than physical. What about the psychological pain of seeing the same crowds that cried hosanna just days before call for your execution, watching your closest mates disappear with shame into the shadows or being stripped naked and watch men gamble for your only possessions whilst you die an innocent man between two criminals?
Or are we still only touching the surface? Much of this pain will have been experienced by any of the many crucified by the Roman authorities. Has anyone else had to wrestle with the burden of torment that was to fall on the shoulders of Jesus Christ that first Easter? To stand as one who is the accused, found guilty of and take the rap all that is rebellious toward God is a huge pain to bear. To stand in the gap and pay the price for all the evils of humanity, even in our lifetime is incomprehensible. Yet this was a pain that Christ endured and took on himself and in doing so was severed from his Father in Heaven - My God - why have you forsaken me?. Maybe we can excuse the cries of Jesus when he said, take this cup from me, when he knew what lie ahead. But possibly more amazing are the words he spoke from the jaws of death as he cried, Father forgive them, they do not know what they are doing. Amid his pain, there is hope. There is the hope of forgiveness in the heart of God towards each man and woman because the price has been paid by another. The cry of - it is finished - and an empty grave signals a new beginning.
Many have laid down their life for what is just and true. But at a place called the skull, at the foot of a Roman execution, is where truth and justice meet and embrace a broken world and that, cannot and need not be replicated. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me....
Cheers and God Bless, Sean