I didn't really have a concept of just how much chocolate this was, however, until the day of the raffle. I was talking to the dietician I work with when they wheeled it out into the hall. And there it stood, at least 2 feet tall, a mixture of dark and white chocolate, beautifully decorated with ribbons and bows.
The creation caught both of our eyes, and I said, "Wow! I had no idea it would be that big! What on earth would someone do with that much chocolate?"
The dietician agreed with me, and after finishing our work-related conversation, I went on back to my office and tried to put that 2 foot, brown and white piece of art out of my mind.
It worked, somewhat anyway, until I happened to go to the store that same day. Easter chocolate lined the aisles, from the moment I entered the store to the checkout stand. Remembering the chocolate bunny of the raffle, I stared at these decadent creations. Imagine my surprise to not just bunnies and eggs, but dogs, cars, cartoon characters, you name it!
Later, as I drove home, I switched on the radio. There was a talk show on the air, and people were telling about their favorite parts of Easter. As I heard their responses, my mouth dropped open. First in shock, and then in shame. Here are a few of the answers: "Chocolate!" "Bunnies and Easter Egg hunts!" And then, "I like Easter because all the best candy comes out at Easter time!"
Friends, has Easter followed the path of Christmas? Has Easter been reduced to chocolate and eggs and bunnies? And what about how we plan to spend the weekend? Has that been reduced to trivialities as well?
All day long I had been overhearing the same question being asked: "What are your plans for Easter?" The answers varied, but most involved a big Easter dinner, time with family, etc. It angered me. It's not that time with family and big dinners are bad things. But where are we putting Jesus in our weekend plans? Are we doing our bi-yearly church visit and then putting Him out of our minds? Are we squeezing Him in at all?
This question was directed at me, just an hour or so before I was scheduled to leave work. I already sensed the answer the one I was speaking to expected to hear, so I gave her a different one. "I don't have any big dinner planned," I said. "No Easter Egg hunt. Nothing. Instead, I'm going to church!" She looked at me curiously as I continued: "I don't want to reduce Easter to the level that we've reduced Christmas to. I want to focus on the REAL meaning of Easter this year!" I could tell she was shocked at my answer because I could read that on her face. Yet she wasn't offended, for she left my office looking very thoughtful.
Among Christians, the response to this question is a bit different, and I praise God for this. But do even we, as Christians, really "get it"? Do we spend time meditating upon the horrors that Jesus went through during this holiday we celebrate? Do we fully understand that what He suffered was OURS to suffer? Do we appreciate the fact that OUR sins made this treatment necessary? Do we even know that the brutality was a necessary part of taking care of YOUR sin and MINE? Do we recognize that the blood, the beatings, the crown of thorns, the humiliation, the heavy cross, and all that Jesus suffered BEFORE He was ever hung on the cross, that these things were NOT just examples of Roman brutality? That they were necessitated by OUR TRANSGRESSIONS?
The prophet Isaiah explains it like this: "But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed." (Isa 53:5). Notice that he doesn't say that Jesus was pierced because the Roman guards were cruel. It doesn't say that He was crushed because the Jewish leaders hated Him so much. It says He was tortured because of OUR sin!
I'm sad to say that most of us Christians don't seem to recognize this. We don't spend time contemplating what really happened to Jesus on the cross. It makes us feel guilty. It makes us feel bad. It makes us feel sad. And we don't like to feel guilty, bad or sad! It's easier to think about a smooth, white cross than as a time of torment for our precious Jesus!
Though what happened because of the cross is glorious, the brutality that Jesus had to suffer for OUR sin is not. We MUST remember!
Friends, how are you going to celebrate Easter this year? Did you win a 20 lb chocolate bunny to divide between your household guests? Or are you going to spend the weekend thinking about Jesus? Are you stressing out about the dinner you have to prepare for those 30 people who will be converging on your house after church on Sunday? Or are you planning on spending time in His presence, meditating upon the horrors of the cross, upon the magnitude of His gift of love?
Think about it!
In His love, Lyn
Lyn Chaffart, Mother of two teens, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, www.scripturalnuggets.org , with Answers2Prayer Ministries, www.Answers2Prayer.org .