THE ESSENCE OF EASTER
Christians all over the world today commemorate the resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ, the Cornerstone of their faith. Popularly called Easter, this is a three-day celebration which usually begins on a Friday, called Good Friday, to remember the agony Jesus Christ suffered on the way to Golgotha, where He was crucified. Some Christian denominations abstain from meat on that Friday, in deference to the agony the Lord suffered from the hands of his crucifiers. In fact, the entire week before Easter is called the Holy Week as a mark of recognition for the suffering Jesus Christ bore for humanity.
Easter Sunday, as observed today, is the day Jesus rose triumphant from the dead after His crucifixion and burial, while Easter Monday (tomorrow) marks His physical showing of Himself to His disciples at Galilee.
We join the teeming Christian faithful round the world as they celebrate what is perhaps the foundation on which their faith is laid - Jesus died, He rose, and is alive forever more.
Easter is usually preceded by a 40-day fast called the Lenten season. This is time that believers dedicate themselves to fasting and prayer, and in which they seek closer relationship with God. They deny themselves of sensual pleasures, and place greater value on the spiritual.
As the Lenten season ends, we urge that it is not supplanted by excessive merry-making and revelling. Easter is a time of sober reflections and deep spiritual introspection, rather than wantonness. It is a time to reflect on, and appreciate the fact that Jesus Christ accomplished the purpose for which He came to the earth.
The essence of Easter is truly mission accomplished. After the fall in the Garden of Eden, God instituted a plan of redemption for man. He promised that the seed of the woman would come, and buy man back from his fallen state. That was what came to pass when Jesus went to the cross, gave his life as ransom for mankind. It was signed, sealed, and delivered when he rose on what is now marked as Easter Sunday.
It was love that took Jesus to the cross. If His heart was not welling and overflowing with love, He could not have offered Himself as a sacrifice. At this time in our country, we commend this love to all citizens. Love that considers others first, love that prefers others above personal and selfish desires, love that seeks to emancipate, to unshackle and liberate. Round our country, in Jos, Plateau State, in the Niger Delta, and, indeed, in many areas, there is the dire need for unfeigned love. This is the vital lesson of Easter. Love will take us above internecine killings, agitations, and other divisive tendencies. Let Christians imbibe this love, and let them inspire non-Christians with their genuine display of the attribute.
How we wish the entire days of the year are Easter days. And it is a possibility. They should be days filled with love, with appreciation of what God has done for mankind, days of goodwill to our neighbours, days of divine expectation to see the Lord, even as His disciples saw Him at Galilee. That would transform our nation, heal our relationships, and give us the polity of our dreams. If we love with the spirit of Easter in our hearts, governance would work, electoral reforms would be easier to accomplish, funds would be judiciously utilized for the good of the larger number, the leadership would love and cherish the led. That is the essence of Easter, which we commend to all Nigerians, indeed, to all humanity, at this time.
Jesus Christ lived a life that was completely submitted to the will and desires of God Almighty. Every day, He sought to please God. If we imbibe this in all areas of our lives, both secular and spiritual, then we are on the path to a glorious life. A life that pleases God, and which honours mankind. We will obey the laws of the land implicitly, seek only the good of our fellow man, and serve others with humility and fear of God. Let all these prevail in our hearts and lives, and the essence and spirit of Easter would have been achieved. It would not just be time for revelry, carousing, and other forms of debauchery.
We wish all Christian faithful happy celebrations.