I fondly remember an Easter Sunday when we visited my Grandparents in Indianapolis. Easters were always a special celebration, in my family, like many of your families, and we would dress up in our very best and spend time with our loved ones. On this particular occasion, I was about 6 years old, and at that time/age, I’m not sure we little ones truly understood or embraced the real reason for the Easter day celebrations. On this particular Sunday, I remember whispering to my grandpa Snyder, upon arriving at his house, that I had seen several of the hidden Easter eggs, and was anxious to go and grab them before anyone else found them. He whispered back – “Good Job Kent, but I’ll do you one better – I’ll show you where the Easter Bunny is… at this very minute!” In amazement, I jumped for joy and said: “Show Me – Show Me!!!” He got up from his chair, we went out the front door, he pointed to a bush in front of the house and told me – “He’s right under that bush.” I must admit I doubted his answer so I said: “OK, show me.” He walked over, kicked the bush, and I’ll kid you not, out ran a rabbit! From that day forward, my Grandfather was an all knowing, incredible…and … magical person – not that I didn’t think that already!!!
As I grew older and got more knowledgeable, it became quite apparent to me that my grandfather had to have seen that rabbit go under that bush. None-the-less, I was amazed at what I thought he knew or could do. As I reflect, I can’t help but connect my grandfather to God, or more importantly the word/title FATHER, with God. Like my grandfather, my father also was an amazing self-made man and he taught me a lot, which in many ways, reminds me of the amazing “man” Jesus was, and everything that he has taught me, in this life. While I certainly know my father was not Jesus, I do think there are a lot of correlations, when you consider all our fathers did for us, or the influence they had on us. For those of you who did not have loving fathers to grow up with, I’m so very sorry if I bring up sad memories. But, for those of us fortunate to have fathers, there are many things that Jesus did, and our fathers tried to do, that are generally very similar.
But in this case, I’m talking about my GRANDFATHER … meaning … at least to me in those younger days, the bigger, better, more important or exalted “father.” Let’s say… like Jesus’ Father … GOD. I know my grandfather was not God himself, but he was a god to me. He knew all the right things to say, he had all the answers, he was smart, funny, caring, and most of all he loved me and everyone in our family. And his love for me never wavered no matter how good…or bad…I was or had been. These very traits that I saw in him, I see magnified to infinity, in God himself. I never felt more warm, comfortable, happy, at peace, and loved than when I got to spend time with my Grandfathers, and Grandmothers as well. That’s the way it is with God. When you know His Word, you follow His guidance, you understand His incredible mercy and grace, and most importantly you embrace His love, there can be no greater feeling in this lifetime nor on this Earth!!!
Easter, to me as a young boy, was all about the Easter bunny hiding the eggs for us to find – real - hard-boiled eggs. There was a mystery and a great deal of fun around such events. As I got just a bit older, it became about coloring and then hiding and finding the eggs – still a lot of fun because it was valuable time spent with family. A few years later, we converted to plastic eggs so we could hide treats in them and no longer had to color them – still a great deal of family togetherness and fun. Then as we grew older, the childhood games went away and it became all about family. Oh, what great times we had with my parents, all my cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. Times I will never forget!
This Easter, my parents are gone, my cousins have their own families, all my aunts, uncles, and grandparents are also no longer with us. In fact, when you focus only on those who are gone, it can be very sad. It feels a bit like Jesus’ followers, and the disciples, must have felt when Jesus was arrested, beaten, and crucified. It’s very sad that this part of my family is no longer with us, to enjoy this Easter with all of us, and to know we will never see them again, on this Earth anyway. I imagine Jesus’ disciples felt the same way …but magnified …as they believed bigger and better things were to come. But now Jesus was arrested, abused, and eventually hung on a cross to die. Their feelings of grief must have been very powerful, just like our feelings are when we remember our lost loved ones. The disciples had to have felt this way as well, even though Jesus told them otherwise, because they initially believed they would never see him again.
But then, I turn my focus to the family I still have, and it brings incredible joy to my heart – almost like the disciples must have felt when they saw Jesus again after he rose from the grave. How incredible it is to feel such joy and happiness. Looking at it all today, my wife and I are now the grandparents, our kids are the parents, aunts and uncles, and their kids are having the fun enjoying their care free youth. We’ve experienced the births of all these children, we’ve helped them grow and mature, and we’ve not only decorated some eggs, but we’ve broken a few both literally and figuratively, over the years.
The birth of our kids and grandkids are some of the most joyous events we could ever experience. I relate this feeling to what the women must have felt when they found the empty grave of Jesus, only to be asked by the angels: “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee. ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.' [Luke 24:5-7] I know it’s not the same, but the feeling had to be very similar. Anyway, It’s such a joy being a parent, a father, and yes, a grandfather. I know I’m no where close to Jesus nor God in my parenting skills and love and compassion, but I only hope my abilities can be as close to my Grandfathers’ as humanly possible.
In closing, I want to point out a few things that might seem a bit off topic, but they do connect with this message. Over and over again I see on TV, I read both in my local newspaper, and on line, all about Easter coming up this Sunday. But nearly everything I have seen on TV, and in the paper, has been about Easter gifts, Easter decorations, Easter eggs of course, Easter candies, and Easter/Spring clothing. Kind of reminds me of those youthful days when as kids our focus was on those eggs and such, and not really on why we got together in the first place – to celebrate Jesus rising from the dead to save us all from our sins. Our world, just like the media, often loses sight of what’s real and true, because their message is to shock and intrigue you about the commerciality of this world. But we CAN NOT, and MUST NOT forget the real reason we celebrate Easter. The real reason we come together with family members and friends on this most important day. Easter is, and needs to always be, a celebration of God’s INCREDIBLE grace. We celebrate that God sent His Son to earth for us – not only to teach us, to show us the way, to remind us that we are all equal in God’s eyes and heart, and to take on Satan and all that was wrong with the world, many of these wrongs we created and supported, but mainly for the purpose of reminding us that:
God knows we are sinful people – Knowing this - God still Loves us
God knows we are sinful people - Knowing this - God still Cares for us
God knows we are sinful people - Knowing this - God still Provides for us
Even though our sin and brokenness caused God to turn away from our sin, in sorrow and in pain for His Son, as he died on the Cross, we must remember that God’s love is the only reason we can have eternal life through His Son Jesus Christ.
God sent His only Son to die – For Us – ALL OF US - no matter what we think, no matter what we do, or no matter what we look like – Jesus died on the cross for us!!!
Praise Be To God…and HAPPY EASTER!!!