By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
One of the aggravating parts of being a biweekly publication is that holidays don’t always fall prior to a print issue. As a result, I did not publish a pre-Easter column. But, here’s the good news. Easter did not end on Sunday, April 4, at 11:59 p.m.
That is why I can write a column in the first issue after Easter (and every other issue of the year if I choose). Easter never ends.
Christians know the story of Mary Magdalene finding the empty tomb and running to tell Jesus’ disciples that He was no longer there. The key word here is “empty.” The tomb was empty because Jesus did what He said he would do — He arose from the grave.
Two familiar hymns remind us of the meaning of Easter.
The first one is “Because He Lives.” The first verse and chorus go like this:
“God sent His son, they called Him, Jesus
He came to love, heal and forgive
He lived and died to buy my pardon
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives.
“Because He lives, I can face tomorrow
Because He lives, all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living
Just because He lives.”
The second hymn, “I Serve a Risen Savior” contains a chorus that is especially meaningful:
“He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.
He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart.”
Easter is not the end of the story of Jesus. It is the beginning. That is why we never have an excuse to not talk about Jesus and tell the Easter story over and over.
When Jesus came out of the tomb, He proved that one can conquer death. He took our sins on His shoulders so that all who believe can have eternal life. He gives everyone who confesses his or her sin and asks for forgiveness the opportunity to spend eternity with Him. What a blessing and gift to mankind.
Unfortunately, many people (Christians included) have the mistaken opinion that Easter is a one-day event. The standing joke is that preachers need to always have a good evangelistic sermon ready for Christmas and Easter because that’s the only two days some people enter a church building.
Therein, lies the problem. Easter (and Christmas, too, but that’s another column) is not an event. Easter is a lifestyle. Preachers should include an “Easter message” in one form or another in every sermon they preach.
Especially now in the world of COVID-19 and virtual services, you never know who might be listening. What’s an Easter message, you ask? It’s simply a message that includes who Jesus is, why He came and what He did for us when He died on the cross at Calvary. It can take up the entire sermon, or it can be summarized in a few words at the end of your message and before an invitation is extended.
Easter is not a one-day event or holiday. The message of Easter is so relevant, it can’t be confined to only one day.
Why? “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, all fear is gone.” Jesus is our only hope, and our world today desperately needs the hope that only He can provide. B&R