Without cross, no empty tomb to celebrate
How fitting that we celebrate the miracle of Easter just as life springs anew all around us.
Just take a look outside and you’ll see the eternal message of rebirth. The common crepe myrtle, just barren brown sticks protruding from the ground a few weeks ago, is now bursting forth with new life. Green leaves and shoots are replacing the dry, brittle branches.
Warmed by the spring sun and watered by frequent rains, the tree will soon bloom, no longer resembling its former self.
So it is with us and Christ. We were all once lifeless. We were all once given up for dead. But the miraculous resurrection forever changed that. We were warmed by the Son of God and watered by the blood he shed.
We, too, will burst forth with new life. No longer can sin keep us away from our Creator. No longer can death keep us separated from our holy God.
Because of Christ’s resurrection, we can proclaim: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
Like the crepe myrtle, those of us who know Christ will no longer resemble our former selves.
But getting there was an ugly business. Most of us are quick to celebrate Sunday’s empty tomb, but slow to look knowingly upon the horrific sacrifice that preceded that event. We turn our attention to the joy of the resurrection, but try to forget the pain of the cross.
Maybe it’s just too horrific to look upon. But without knowing Christ’s pain, how can we fully appreciate the sacrifice? How can we know the love of Christ?
The Roman philosopher Cicero described crucifixion as “a most cruel and disgusting punishment.” He said, “the very mention of the cross should be far removed not only from a Roman citizen’s body, but from his mind, his eyes, his ears.”
Cicero was mostly correct. It was a cruel and disgusting punishment, but it should never be removed from our minds.
So when we look around and see the earth bursting forth anew, we should remember not only the resurrection, but the cross as well. Until we look upon the dead of winter, we can’t appreciate the life of spring.
This editorial first published in 2015.