“Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate,
“Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.
“Command therefore that the sepulcher be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.
“Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can.
“So they went, and made the sepulcher sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.”
On that first Easter morn, as Mary Magdalene and the other Mary gathered spices and herbs and hurried to the tomb, where on the previous Friday they had laid Jesus’ body, little did they suspect that they would find the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. Is there a more dramatice moment in all Bible history than that of finding tomb empty?
We ca imagine the alarm and the deep distress of the two Marys as the sight of the empty tomb met their eyes We can recapture something of the sense of awe and wonder that was theirs when the “Angel of the Lord” appeared immediately and said, “Go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead.” Can we share their experience intense drama as Jesus appeared to them saying, “All hail! Be not afraid. God and tell my brethren that they shall se me in Galilee”? Conflicting emotions must have filled their hearts: joy overwhelming them at the sight of their Master, disbelief confusing their faith and striking fear to their minds.
Today, nearly two thousand years later, let each of us pause and ask ourselves the question: “What does Easter mean to me?” Does it mean the agony and suffering of a man on a crude cross on a hill called Golgotha? Does it promise personal salvation through vicarious atonement? Or does it mean an outer observance of a festival day; a purely materialistic concept?
What should Easter mean to us? If we see only the agony and suffering on a cross the message of the resurrection is lost. Dr. Carrie Munz once said, “As long as man keeps Jesus on the cross, man will experience suffering and wars.”
In nearly every life there is a cross at one time or another. Sometimes this cross is carried in such a way that it burdens and distresses others. Again, it may be carried in secret, the weight of the secret burden almost destroying the one who carries it.
There are many kinds of crosses projecting their various shapes across our consciousness: sorrow, grief, illness, disappointment. Some crosses are self-imposed: self-pity, self-righteousness, self-indulgence, self-persecution. Each thinks his cross is hardest to bear. The shape of the cross is not important, but it is important that we transcend the cross. It is important that we grow by means of the cross, rather than be crushed under its load. Great souls have left us their records of overcoming. Jesus did. Steinmetz did. Helen Keller did. Is it too much to ask that we do the same?
Do we believe that the sacrificial death of one man can atone for the sins of all men? To believe that this is the full message of the resurrection is to rest in His victory and to evade all personal responsibility in the matter of salvation. It is by His way that we are saved and not by His death.
The very young child is likely to think of Easter in terms of the “Easter Bunny,” the “new dress,” or the “new suit.” This is normal and right for the child until he reaches an age of understanding. During these developing years a wise parent will keep before the child, in simple ways, the Life Principle as demonstrated in resurgent life and its culmination in the Easter story. But what of the child who carries into adult hood his childish concepts of Easter? This one limits himself. He may never know, in this life, the rich, spiritual significance of Easter or glimpse the stature of Jesus Christ in relation to his own life.
What should Easter mean to us? It should mean the hope and joy of the resurrection. It should remove us from the cross of separateness into the order of unity with the One Life, the Source of all life. Easter should bring us the message of overcoming and the evidence of Eternal Life. It should point the way to the ascended consciousness—the Christed-Man. Jesus gave us the perfect example of the Resurrected Life and the Sonship Consciousness—Oness with the Father.
Today, nearly two thousand years later, let us take the message of Easter and arise from our crosses of false concepts. Let us believe and prove, to the best of our awareness, the resurrected life on this plane. Let us ascend in Christ Consciousness until we become true sons and daughters of the Most High God.
What greater truth could we speak for another than to say, “Behold, he arises!” What greater truth could others speak for each of us than to say, “Behold, he arises!”