So many things happen in March. Spring begins. Daylight saving time starts. My dad was born in March. Flowers begin to grace the landscape. Grass begins to hold on to the hope of renewal. Sometimes, Easter comes in March.
This year, March is coming in like a lion in my corner of PA. There’s a 5-7″ snowfall predicted to begin in the later afternoon today and stop early Monday morning. Maybe it will be that heavy, maybe not. Forecasts have not hit the mark very well this past couple of weeks.
High winds, winter mix precipitation. The temps are fairly mild, but I hate that winter mix stuff. Sleet, rain, snow, even hail sometimes. Roads are slippery and traffic slows to a crawl except for the occasional speed demon who just has to fly past everyone else, spraying mud, salt, and sand on every car he passes. Most of the time those folks reach the red lights pretty much at the same time as I do 🙂
For the sports fans, there is March Madness. Basketball takes over for a while, and if you have a favorite team or two you probably already have you schedule of which team plays which, and when.
But let’s go back to Easter. Easter Sunday is determined by being the first Sunday following the first full moon after the Spring Equinox. There are good explanations for how this works if you care to google about it. This year, Easter is April 21.
There are some who dislike celebrating Easter because it derives its name from Ishtar, or Ashtoreth, the goddess of fertility. The secular world marks the date with rabbits delivering eggs that chickens laid, and everyone likes to dress up in new spring clothing if the weather isn’t too cold. Chocolate candy abounds, along with marshmallowy little chicks and other symbols of the new life that comes with spring.
I understand the concern about this day being connected with things that have nothing at all to do with the glory of the risen Savior and His victory over sin and death. We call it Resurrection Sunday at our church. And no, we don’t know the exact date of His resurrection any more than we know the exact date of His birth. Yes, we can celebrate these events all day every day of the year.
But I think it is important that, as a community of believers, we take the time to consider what Jesus did; how He suffered, how He never opened His mouth to defend Himself; how He forgave the thief who was crucified with Him when that suffering man confessed that Jesus was indeed the Son of God. And He even prayed that the Father would forgive those who persecuted Him, because they had no clue what was really happening that day.
One of the greatest battles of all time was fought when Jesus was on the cross. Satan was there, gloating in the suffering of the Savior. In the middle of the afternoon, there was an earthquake and there was darkness. Jesus did not die at the hands of the Roman soldiers or the Jewish leaders who hated Him. He chose to die. He gave up the Ghost, breathing His last breath as the God-Man Who had come to provide eternal life to any who would believe on Him.
His victory over sin and death became clear on that Sunday morning when the women went to His tomb, and He was gone! The angels who spoke to the women told them, “He is not here, for He is risen!”
And that is why we honor His resurrection. Not because we celebrate all the other trappings that go with the season, but because we are rejoicing in His victory that gives us the victory, too.
In my church, we will begin the service with “He is risen! He is risen indeed!” Can you imagine the thrill of the disciples and others who loved and followed Him, as they began to realize that Jesus was indeed alive!
His birth, ministry, death and resurrection changed the course of the history of this world. Today, He is still changing the hearts and lives of all who believe in Him. That is cause for celebration.