An unusually cold spring lingers on. Yesterday at the farmer’s market, I admired the flats of pansies and bunches of tulips, but couldn’t feel motivated to buy any to plant. Too. Cold. “I know,” commiserated the clerk. “I haven’t been able to plant anything either. It doesn’t feel like spring, or Easter, although I know it’s coming. Mind over matter, right?”
Right. Logically, my mind knows that spring is coming; is actually here, according to the calendar. It’s just that the “matter”, in the form of weather and environment, isn’t cooperating very well. I go on in faith, trusting in the future of spring because I have seen that promise fulfilled every year in the past.
This morning, faced with another cool and cloudy day, I bought a pot of yellow tulips in defiance. As I drove home past remnants of snow in unplowed fields, I thought about how fortunate I was to be able to bring a bit of spring inside our house despite the outside weather.
The tulips, cool, rising above serene green leaves, brought a sense of color and hope. I marveled at their design, the perfection of this living thing … and just one example of the thousands of beautiful plants on earth. What does something like a flower say about the Mind who created it? Or a majestic sunset, radiant with beauty beyond our capability: why the extravagant color and design every evening? Wouldn’t one color have been enough? And why do we respond to such things, seeing beauty, being encouraged, awed, quieted? Who made us to respond that way? Yahweh.
And this is the stunning truth of Easter. Every year during this week, Christians around the world think about the events leading up to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The God who created the world and everything in it loved us, the created, to the extent that His Son died in our place. “He himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. ‘By His stripes you are healed.’” (I Peter 2:24)
Jesus came to this beautiful, fallen world and lived in it as one of us. For three extraordinary years of ministry, he taught, preached, healed, laughed, ate lunch, and confronted sin. One at least one occasion, he wept. At Lazarus’ tomb, at the reality of death. Tears and death are the birthright of fallen people. Our world is beautiful, but stained with sin. In God’s grace and mercy, Jesus faced the ordeal of the cross voluntarily, paying our penalty, so that all who believe can be resurrected into eternal life. Lazarus was the foreshadowing of this new reality. Death itself would die.
That victory undergirds all the hope of Easter. There is still the winter of suffering in our individual lives, and I don’t want to dismiss or ignore that fact. But that’s another column. Today I am thinking with joy about the great Artist, who created the universe, loves beyond my imagining, and broke the ultimate power of death. As Scripture states, I want to “declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (I Peter 2:9).
“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’” (John 11:25,26).