Has Easter ever struck you are weird? Half the world talks about the Easter Bunny as if that is what Easter is about, whilst the real meaning of Easter is lost. Another concept that’s weird, albeit closer to home for Christians, is that of the reversal of God: the God of Judgment for and against Israel becomes the judged.
This is seen starkly in Isaiah 53 — the absolute pivot-point of the suffering servant chapters of Isaiah 40-55.
Suddenly, the Father allows humanity to crucify His Son, the Lamb of God. And it is prophesied from nearly eight-hundred years beforehand. From the benefit of hindsight, it wasn’t a surprise.
Jesus, as the suffering servant, is rejected (Isaiah 53:1-3), He carries our sin (vv. 4-6), resulting in His slaughter, though, as a Lamb, He is silent (vv. 7-9), and, in His carrying of our sin makes atonement for us (vv. 10-12). He is the only one who could atone — the price to atone for sin, the blood of a sinless Saviour.
The Easter Bunny, however, completely blurs out the effect of salvation at Easter. Most people in my land connect Easter more with a bunny and Christmas more with Santa Claus than they see Jesus as central to both events.
The Easter Bunny apparently has Christian origins — like with Santa Claus — and is a judge of children’s behaviour. If you’ve been good you get good gifts, and if you’ve been bad you don’t.
The anachronism is that God gives us good gifts even though we’re bad! Yes, that’s right. Easter’s true meaning is that Christ died on the cross because we are bad. We need saving. God knew it from before time began. So, in a seeming reversal of God, instead of God judging us for being bad, He gives us the gift of salvation.
Easter has become a confused time, with images of bunnies, eggs and flowers intermingling with crosses and lambs. Funnily, the bunnies and eggs have a Christian tradition, but that has been forgotten.
This year, like all years, we have the opportunity to sit back and reflect over the centrality of the Easter message, which is Jesus crucified for the forgiveness of our sin, on a very Good Friday, and risen to enable us access to the gift of new life in His name on Sunday.