Easter is the central and highest feast of the entire church year. The festival follows forty days of solemnity and repentance as we are reminded of our sin and reason for our Savior. The Church of God is ready to rejoice in the empty tomb of Easter. The Easter victory cry “Christ is risen” calls for the greatest expression of adoration and joy, not only in preaching, but also in music, even flowers. Having a large number of flowers can create the effect of the Church shouting “Alleluia!”
Of all the flowers, why the use of the Easter lily? Probably, the best reason I can think of is that white is the color of purity and joy.
Some traditions are interesting, but not worth spending too much time on. White lilies supposedly sprung up where Christ’s sweat fell to the ground while praying in Gethsemane. In some paintings, the angel Gabriel extends to Mary a branch of pure white lilies, in others, the saints are pictured as bringing vases full of lilies to Mary and baby Jesus. Joseph is seen holding a lily branch in his hand because he knew Mary was indeed a virgin.
Like other flowers, the lily’s roots are buried in the dirt and darkness. The lily rises above the darkness and dirt to bloom beautifully and proudly. Nothing is pretty about Good Friday. Illegal trials. Injusticie. The Son of God suspended between heaven and earth, rejected by mankind, whom he came to save and forsaken by his Father, who punishes his Son in our place.
But three days later all is right and well between God and man as Jesus rises from the dead. Victory over sin, death, Satan and hell have been won! It was an ugly battle. The roots of our salvation are buried deep beneath the humiliation of pain and judgment, but Jesus rises above it all and in his life we live
Another reason the lily is chosen, according to one of my books on Christian symbolism, might be simply that it blooms at this time of year.
Jesus lives! The victory’s won!
Pastor Martin Luchterhand
From the Editor’s Desk
We had a different editorial prepared for today’s issue. But the news of the events of yesterday changed our plans.
With great interest we had followed the capture, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth. After He was buried on Friday, we turned to other things. But early yesterday morning word came to us that Jesus had returned to life.
What the events of the past weekend will mean to the world is rather difficult to ascertain on the day after Christ’s resurrection. From this vantage point it appears that we can expect great things. Some of the faithful followers of Christ remember the many prophecies concerning the Messiah’s coming. Yesterday’s events, according to reliable reports, indicate that the Messiah is none other than the risen Christ.
We are told that over two thousand years ago the Lord reminded Abraham that the members of the Lord’s church would be as numerous as sands upon the seashore. Does that mean that the message of the Messiah would cover the whole earth?
It is reported that, on last Thursday night as Christ met privately with His disciples in the upper room, He prayed to God saying, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message.”
Could it be that the news of Christ’s resurrection will be proclaimed throughout the world?
Will the message of Jesus Christ invade the powerful strongholds of Greece and Rome?
Is it possible that the risen Christ will become more important than the god Jupiter, or that Socrates and Plato will fade before this One who said, “I am the Son of God”?
It might be well that we all heed the words of the angel, “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 into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.”
The above is presented with the prayer that the blessings of Easter may continue in your life and that you may also take this message to others that they, too, may know the joy of the Easter good news.
Pastor William Balza
Most Christians know that Easter is the most important day of the entire church year. Every other Sunday revolves around Easter. That is why each Sunday is sometimes referred to as a “mini-Easter”.
Easter, of course, is the day Jesus rose from the dead. The Bible states that “(Jesus) was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” (Romans 4:25). We might compare what happened to Jesus to what we do when we go to a grocery store. After we pick up our groceries and take them to the check-out counter, the cashier scans our groceries and tells us how much we owe. That is the PRICE for our groceries. We pay the cashier what we owe. That is the PAYMENT that we make. But after the payment is made, the cashier may give us our change and our groceries. But there is one more thing we want to have. That is our receipt. The receipt is our PROOF OF PURCHASE .
On Good Friday Jesus died on the cross. His suffering and death and the shedding of His innocent blood was the PAYMENT for all our sins. Because Jesus made the payment on our behalf, for our sins, there is nothing more that we need to pay. There is nothing that we can pay. Jesus did it all for us.
On the third day Jesus rose from the dead. His resurrection was God’s way of demonstrating that He had accepted the payment that Jesus made for us. In other words, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead is our PROOF OF PURCHASE. Jesus redeemed (bought us back) from our sin, from death and from the power of the devil. Because of that payment that Jesus made for us, God has now “justified” us or declared us to be “not guilty”. We are forgiven. And that means we have the certainty of eternal life through Jesus. “Whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
No wonder Easter means so much to the Christian. It is our day of victory. “Because I (Jesus) lives, you (we) also will live” (John 14:19).
On Easter we decorate our church with flowers, most of which are white (the Easter lily). White is the color of joy and celebration. It is also the color of purity or holiness. Because Jesus died and rose again, all our sins are forgiven and, through faith in Him, we are cleansed, purified, of all sin.
Easter is also the symbol of new life from the dead. As believers in Jesus, we have a new life. It is the life we live by faith in Him who loved us and gave Himself for us. Each day of our lives, we want to live for Him to show our love and gratitude for all that He has done for us.
May our Easter celebration again this year bring renewed joy, celebration and life through our risen and glorified Savior – JESUS CHRIST!