Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | April 10, 2009

Don’t Feed the Bunny

Mosaic in Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Mosaic in Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre

When I visited the Ming Dynasty tombs in 1998, I was immediately impressed by the beauty of this burial site. Thirteen Ming Dynasty emperors are buried at this site located north of Beijing. As I walked around the beautiful grounds, I thought of those who had invested their lives and spared no expense to preserve the memory of the rulers buried there. And yet, these magnificent and ornate tombs are still occupied. By contrast, Jesus was buried in a tomb carved into the rock in a simple and unpretentious setting. In fact, this tomb was not prepared exclusively for Jesus. No artisan or workman carved it out with the intention of preserving His memory. And yet today, the empty tomb of Jesus is mute testimony to His victory over sin and death. His simple tomb assures us that through faith in the risen Christ, people can have forgiveness of their sins and a new and everlasting life. As we prepare to observe Easter, or Resurrection Sunday, here are some things to keep in mind.

Review | This Easter, take some time to carefully review the story of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. Paul wrote, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3-4). Paul said that what he had received was rooted in history or “according to the Scriptures.” The death of Christ was foretold in “the Scriptures” (for example, Isaiah 53:5-12). Many men died at the hands of the Romans, but His death was “for our sins.” And, Jesus “was raised” — the perfect tense in Greek indicates that He remains raised from the dead. His resurrection is a past event with results continuing to the present.

Report | This Easter, let’s heed the words the angel spoke to the women who arrived first at the empty tomb: “He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead…” (Matt. 28:6-7). The world is still waiting to hear this good news. While sharing the gospel in Ukraine, I met an elderly woman who invited me and my translator into her small apartment. I told her that I had traveled from America to share the wonderful news of God’s love with her. She lowered her head and said she had been taught that God is dead. I told her that God is very much alive and interested in her eternal welfare. As I shared the gospel with her she listened attentively to the story of Jesus. I told her of His life, death, and resurrection. “Jesus is alive today,” I said, “and wants to be your Savior and Lord.” With tears in her eyes, the woman humbly bowed her head and placed her faith in the living Christ for salvation.

Rethink | This Easter, take a moment to rethink your spending. Americans spend nearly 1.9 billion dollars annually on Easter candy. According to the National Retail Federation, Americans are expected to spend an average of $116.59 on Easter candy, gifts, food, and decorations this year. That’s a lot of money, especially in these tough economic times. But, even so, that amount is down from an average of $135.03 last year. One Mom sent me an encouraging e-mail this week. “I have decided not to buy Easter outfits,” she wrote, “and instead use the money to go towards adopting a child.” She went on to calculate how much money could be raised in one day to assist families who are trying to adopt children if we all wore last year’s Easter outfits, did away with the candy, and invested the savings in an adoption fund. So, consider eating less, dressing down, and donating the savings to a worthy cause that will actually make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate.

Return | This Easter, many Americans will make their one and only annual pilgrimage to a place of worship. Church pews will be packed with people dressed in their finest. However, the Sunday after Easter the pews will look like they did on the Sunday before Easter. If you are among those who only worship on Easter, listen closely to the Easter message. Consider doing more than sitting in a pew once a year for the One who hung on the cross for you. Heed the admonition of Hebrews 10:25, “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.” So, stop sailing alone. Remember that Satan is a pirate looking for a ship without a fleet. Return to the church building after Easter, join a small group, attend worship, and build meaningful relationships with those who can encourage you along your journey.

Reform | This Easter, take inventory of your life. If you are a Christ-follower, does your life reflect that you have a vital and growing relationship with the resurrected Christ? If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you? Are you holding tightly to anything that is causing your love for God to grow cold? Do you serve others as He would serve them? Does your life reflect your commitment to the kingdom of God? Are you advancing the interests of His kingdom or trying to build your own? Do you need to reform your ways?

Remember that Easter is about the resurrection of Jesus. So, don’t feed the Easter Bunny this year. Instead, make a commitment to focus on the One who gave His all for us. And then determine to give your all for Him. Honor Him with a faithful life — one choice and one day at a time.

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