Christmastime in America is completely nuts.
There are holiday drinks, holiday movies, holiday albums. And by holiday, we mean Christmas. All of them birthed out of Christmas.
Christmas has even spawned its own mini-celebrations of consumerism in Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Americans can get behind Christmas because no one is offended by a baby being born in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago.
We can say things about Christmas like,
It’s all about family…
It’s about giving to people you love…
It’s about being grateful for what you have and blessing the less fortunate…
We can lose the true Christmas message that God came into the world to save sinners because we can twist a humble birth into just about whatever we want.
But America doesn’t go Easter-crazy. 1There aren’t special Easter drinks at Starbucks. There isn’t a Mariah Carey Easter album. There aren’t amazing Easter sales everywhere worth camping out for. 2
Because what do you do with a 30 year-old Jewish man who was unfairly tried, sentenced to a horrific death and then allegedly came back from the dead?
America doesn’t love Easter because America doesn’t know what to make of it.
You can try to cover it up with eggs and candy and bunnies, 3but that’s a thin veneer that can’t hide the type of crazy Christians go over Easter. The capitalism machine hasn’t found a way to make a consumer holiday out of Easter, because it’s so far-fetched you can’t bend it into any other message.
The cryptic tweets about wrath and substitution and someone who lived thousands of years before you dying in your place.
The Good Friday somberness.
The confusion about what we’re supposed to do on Saturday.
And ultimately the deafening roar of Sunday with “He is risen!” filling your timeline fuller than your stomach after drinking a bloat-inducing Venti Peppermint Mocha.
Easter cannot be manipulated. It can’t be stripped of its value. It’s a time where the rest of the world who aren’t Christians, if they know what we celebrate, just stand and scratch their heads.
Easter is all about Jesus. His death. His resurrection. His ability and willingness to live a perfect life for the sake of broken, sinful people and absorb the wrath of God for the sake of God’s people who would repent and believe in Jesus and his work on the cross and resurrection from the dead.
All of history hinges on this celebration. It’s the reason we split history in half for the God-man Christ Jesus.
You don’t get both halves of history named after you unless you claim to be God, correctly predict your death and then rise from that foretold death.
If you’re not a Christian, I urge you to explore the claims of Jesus. History proves he lived. And if he is God, what he says will matter for eternity. I urge you to consider if you’re sinful–not just that you do bad things, but that you are, in your nature, flawed and bad–and if that sin is punishable like all other crimes. Wrestle with the reality that the perfect, sinless Jesus paid the price for your sins so that you can be in a relationship with God through turning from your sin and placing your faith in Jesus.
And to Christians, celebrate Easter like it’s more important than Christmas. It’s true, there’s no Easter without Christmas, but without Easter, Christmas doesn’t matter.
Drink the communion cup instead of eggnog. Cherish the symbol of Christ’s blood paying for the sins you’ve committed. And break bread instead of breaking open presents. Realize this symbolizes Christ’s body that was broken on our behalf, to open the door for a holy God and unrighteous people to be in relationship together.
And know that as you celebrate, there is no celebration substitute for the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.
Easter can’t be made out to be anything other than what it is: a totally crazy, perfect plan to save all who would live and believe “He is risen!”
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No, the one night celebration of Fat Tuesday to inaugurate Lent with excessive drinking doesn’t count.
Kudos to McDonald’s for tipping its hat at the Lenten season with 2 for $4 Filet-O-Fish sandwiches. Wait, what?↩
I honestly have no clue why we give kids cavities to celebrate, but I’m sure there’s some interesting history here↩