Easter sermons have been preached (praise God that Easter sermons have been preached), eggs painted, fam photos taken, new outfits tossed in the dirty laundry, and leftovers tupperwared away.
And maybe this year was the happiest Easter you’ve ever had. Maybe you celebrated with a new little one for the first time. Maybe you woke up with a renewed sense of hope for where God is taking you and what this next year will bring. Maybe you spent time with your person or people. Maybe you hid eggs and ate food and napped so hard and so long. Or maybe you went out to a really good lunch with your husband, like thick steak and creamy mashed potatoes kind of celebration lunch (with coffee after because you were feelin’ fancy). Maybe it was a really good Easter.
But maybe it wasn’t.
Maybe you weren’t able to be with family, and you really wanted to be. Maybe you were still waiting for the little one you’re praying for, dreaming of egg hunts and tiny ruffled socks. Maybe you couldn’t afford new clothes this year or full baskets for your kids. Maybe you were overwhelmed with grief or difficult circumstances or the future unknown no one else in your life knows about. Maybe you slept in because you didn’t want to go to a church that had hurt you so deeply.
Maybe this year was harder than you thought it would be.
Either way–celebrating or barely getting by–you’re not alone. That’s what Easter is all about. We’re not alone. In good times and bad–we’re not alone. We’re SO not alone that God literally came down to earth (Christmas), lived among us as one of us (Jesus), spoke to us (the Bible), showed us our sin (Good Friday), experienced our death for us (Holy Saturday), and rose from the dead (Easter Sunday). All of this to show us that Jesus really was telling the truth, that all along throughout the history of humanity from the first day in Genesis–God really was telling the truth about loving us and wanting us to live a good life with Him in purity and freedom.
But to accomplish that, God experienced His own grief and sorrow and rejection. Isaiah 53 is one of the most evocative, haunting, and hopeful chapters in Scripture. It says of Jesus, “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief…” A man of s o r r o w s (plural). A man acquainted with grief–a man who knew grief by experience. “He was despised,” the chapter continues, “and we esteemed him not.” The text shifts suddenly and we see a surprising “we” after so many repetitions of “he”. WE esteemed him not, which means we didn’t really think much of him. The chapter goes on, “Surely he had borne our griefs,” (he has taken upon himself our hardships and struggles that bear down upon us), “and carried our sorrows” (carried–taken them for himself), ” yet“ (big, big shift word), “yet we esteemed him not.” He took upon himself everything that was weighing us down and we still didn’t think much of him. “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” Our burdens, our failing, our faults, our weaknesses, our sin–none of it was light on Jesus. He wasn’t just fake carrying our loads. He fully carried them. The loads that crush us when we hold on to them–they crushed him. Our sins that pierce the heart of God, they pierced Jesus. BUT (and this is a bigger shift word than that “yet” we read before) Jesus didn’t stay crushed.
When we celebrate Easter, even if we’re just hobbling along to do so, this is what we celebrate: Jesus was crushed by what was crushing us, but He didn’t stay crushed. He died, but He came back to life. He rose up. He conquered. He finished what we struggled to even begin.
He was despised and rejected, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, smitten by God, afflicted, crushed for our iniquities, chastised for our peace, wounded so that we might be healed. He died, but then He lived!
Maybe this Easter you were celebrating in that peace or maybe you were still in the middle of that healing, not quite feeling healed yet. Either way, you’re not alone. You’re never alone. Jesus was crushed so that you don’t have to be. Jesus rose to new life so that you could, too, in Him and with Him. There is life to be had, abundant life.