We’ve been blessed with a week of sunshine now we’re feeling the wrath of winter again as the weather turns freezing and everything shivers in the icy blast. Easter is upon us and as such is all about new life and spring bursting forth.
As the weekend draws near the events of the Easter story are in danger of being drowned out by rampant commercialism and the consumer frenzy that clever marketing whips up. Eggs and bunnies are all very nice but what IS Easter all about?
Its the high point of the Christian calendar, the whole reason for the season being the death and resurrection of Jesus, the sacrifice that enabled us to be forgiven and to bring us back to a God who loved us so much He was willing to give His only Son in our place.
Most people are familiar with the main story but there was much more behind that, a dramatic backdrop to the very public humiliation of Good Friday and the exhilaration of Easter Sunday.
Jesus entered Jerusalem to the cheers and applause of an expectant nation, He was hailed as the Messiah, a longed for Saviour for his people, as a deliverer from oppression they wanted a warrior king. Instead of a chariot drawn by a warhorse He rode a humble donkey with the shouts of cheering crowds ringing in His ears.
No army marched beside him , just a rag tag collection of rough fishermen, a tax collector and a sharp money man who already planned to turn traitor. Instead of a tactical planning meeting He called them all to celebrate a Passover meal with Him.
None of them could have known how the next twenty four hours were going to pan out. They didn’t know that they would end up letting their master down, that they would witness unspeakable cruelty, feel unutterable guilt and shame, see their beloved friend die the most horrific death. That this was the end of all their dreams.
It is almost impossible to imagine what went through Jesus’ mind that night as he lovingly washed their tired feet, wrapping a towel around His waist in a selfless act of servanthood. Impossible to imagine how Jesus felt when he looked at Judas, the close friend who would betray Him for thirty pieces of silver and bring about His arrest.
He tried to convey something of the solemnity of the occasion with immortal words which then were just words, not yet understood for their power and prophetic meaning. “Take eat, this is my body . . . . ”
There was probably the usual banter and humour they’d always shared, a bit of friendly teasing, a relaxed atmosphere around the table with the One who had seen them through the last three years.
We aren’t usually ready for the dramas life throws at us, the moments when life changes forever in the twinkling of an eye, where we feel like we’ve stepped into someone else’s play and we don’t know the lines, when the big bad things happen that make no sense.
We are rarely prepared for tragedy for it is no respecter of time, place or person. So before we get to the main event have we got friends or family around us? Those on whom we can count when the world rocks and we are shaken. Have we spent time on the important things? How have we felt when folks have let us down, betrayed our trust and confidence, deserted us when the going got tough?
The story is only just beginning here and over the next few days it will unfold and come to its conclusion. Except this isn’t just a story, its history, His Story. This is a time for reflection, for letting go of the past, for living in the here and now, for putting things right with others, for looking forward to what is to come with hope, faith and courage.