By Glenda Lesher

Easter…  It brings back childhood memories of a new dress, new shoes, Easter baskets and a bountiful Easter dinner at my Grandparents’ house – complete with a bunny cake.  Though the memories are fond, there is something missing in that nostalgic picture – Jesus.  Oh yes, we went to church, but no one took the time to explain Good Friday or Easter to me.

I was in my mid 20’s when I came to faith in Christ.  Easter took on new meaning.  Knowing how Jesus had saved me and rescued me from myself and the world, I winced during dramas of His scourging and crucifixion.  Good Friday wasn’t good for the One who was beaten and nailed on a Roman cross, but it was good for me and all who come to faith in Him.

Through giving His life, Jesus made it possible for me (and you) to be forgiven of our sins, reconciled to the Father, and to inherit eternal life.  And as we know, Jesus’ sacrificial death wasn’t the end of the story.  Death was swallowed up in victory by His miraculous resurrection (Isaiah 25:8; 1 Corinthians 15:54)!  Unlike other religions, Christianity is the only one with an empty grave.  Rather than visiting a cemetery or a monument erected to a god, Jesus not only sits at the right hand of the Father, but He lives in us.  He is as close to me as the breath I take.

Easter is an enjoyable time with my family, but I’m so thankful my focus has changed.  My sons grew up knowing about God’s love and grace and what was accomplished on the cross.  They came to faith early in life and thankfully avoided a lot of the mistakes I made.

At the same time, I can’t say that my life before Christ was pointless or without purpose.  Scripture tells us that when we are comforted by God, He will use that to comfort others (2 Corinthians 1:4).  Without some of those difficult experiences, I might not be able to empathize or connect with others who are struggling in the same way.  I’m reminded that the one who is forgiven much loves much and my ongoing goal is for that love to define my life. (Luke 7:47)

I still get excited about Easter, but not because of the frills and food.  Attending Good Friday services and taking communion prepares me for the real Easter – a heart preparation to celebrate anew the resurrection of my Savior – and a reminder that I was resurrected from darkness and hopelessness because of His sacrifice.  And that is what Easter is all about.