By: Candy Tolbert, national Girls Ministries director
It's Easter week. Time for worship teams to practice special music, time to decorate sanctuaries with beautiful lilies, and - for some - it is time to attend the first of two obligatory calendar Sunday services. But for those of us who live our faith as Christians, it is the most important holiday because Easter is at the heart of what it is to wear the name Christian.
Like many of you, I memorized John 3:16 as a young child. And the truth and power of this verse still resonates in my heart. I believe God sent His only Son because He loved the world. Jesus Christ did nothing to warrant an execution. He died for no other reason than who He was and what He came to do.
On that first Good Friday, Jesus' followers were in the depths of despair. Jesus was crucified, the temple veil was split open, the earth moved, tombs opened up, and the Roman centurion who had overseen the execution mumbled, "This was the Son of God."
But as Tony Campolo says: "It's Friday, but Sunday's comin'."
Mary Magdalene and the other women found the stone rolled away from the tomb and an angel in shimmering white saying, "He's not here - He is risen!" Can you imagine? Two days earlier all was dark, gloomy, and hopeless. But suddenly all of those torn emotions turned to pure joy! Joy far greater than the world had known before or since. Jesus came back to earth - alive! -and walked and talked among the living.
So what's the point of it all as it relates to you and me? Simple. Easter defines us. Jesus died for my sins. I am a sinner. Oh, I love my husband and am faithful to him. I don't drink or do drugs. I pay my bills on time.
Yet I sin. My pride often dictates my thoughts and words. Poor choices. The list goes on and on. I've concluded that had I been there to witness Jesus' trial I probably would have been one of the ones shouting "crucify Him, crucify Him." I'm ashamed.
The point of Easter then, that I am forgiven, that He loves me too much to leave me as I am and that unlike all other religious leaders that are dead, Jesus is alive - bringing hope and faith to my life that are absolutely vital. With so much that is wrong today in a culture that glorifies sin - thank God for Easter.
As humorist, Barbara Johnson wrote, "We aren't just Easter people living in a Good Friday world. We are resurrection people!"
Yes. He is risen indeed!