Today is Easter Sunday.
To many Americans, Easter is a holiday centered on obligatory church visits, the Easter bunny, Easter egg hunts and other rituals used to celebrate “He is risen."
Once Monday rolls around, though, it’s back to life as normal. Stress. Anxiety. Despair. The same job you hate to show up for.
But it shouldn’t be like that — at all.
Easter is a beautiful day celebrating a fulfilled promise. You see, nearly 2,000 years ago a Jewish man claimed he was the Son of Man, the promised Messiah, the One who was to come and save the Israelites from more than 1,000 years of oppression.
More importantly, Jesus declared that the Kingdom of God had come to Earth (Matthew 4:17) and promised to forever reconcile humanity back to God. (John 14:6)
But before that could happen, Jesus had to die. He had to suffer at the hands of the oppressors. He had to be sentenced to death and carry a cross up a hill. Jesus was blameless and lived a sinless life, a life that was perfect and a life that you and I could never live.
Jesus’ arrest, trial, death and burial was a process that had to happen so God’s promise could come to pass.
In the immediate aftermath of Jesus’ death, His disciples were hopeless. On the surface, it appeared Jesus was a fake and his death was real. But in reality, it was just the beginning.
When a small group of women went to Jesus’ tomb three days after His death, they were met by an angel. From Matthew 28:5-7:
The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.
The women strolled to the tomb that morning expecting to find it just as they had last seen it: with Roman guards stationed outside and Jesus still dead inside. Instead, they found the tomb stone rolled back and Jesus was gone. “He is risen” the angel told them.
Easter is a celebration of that revelation: that Jesus defied death forever and gives eternal life and a new beginning to anyone who calls on His name and believes in Him. (Romans 10:9) Through His work on the cross and the empty tomb, the grace of Jesus is a gift freely available to anyone. (Ephesians 2:8)
Jesus' victory over death was carried out with you in mind. Jesus loves you and He will never love you more than He does right now. And the best news of all: He's not waiting for you to become "perfect" to accept you. He desires you just as you are in this very moment.
On this Easter Sunday, a day where Christians celebrate and reflect on Jesus' victory over the cross and tomb, I encourage you to tune your focus into what Jesus did for you. And if you aren't a Christian, just know that Jesus' free gift of grace and salvation is available for you to receive today. All you need to do is call on His name and believe in Him. Jesus will take it from there.
Easter is about new beginnings and today very well might be a new beginning for you, too.