I love using symbols as a teaching tool! They help us recall lessons learned and the values we choose to live by. The ring on my finger is a symbol that reminds me of the continuous commitment I make to my wife. Symbols on road signs provide warnings and instruction. Symbols also reinforce the meaning behind holidays we celebrate each year. However, with out regular reminders, it’s easy to forget the message behind these symbols or even be tempted to replace them altogether. Easter and the popular symbols that come with it are no different. Between the Easter Bunny, egg hunts, special church services and other religious symbols, it’s easy to forget the most important symbol of all.
Most of us quickly recognize that the Easter Bunny is far from an adequate symbol of the purpose of Easter. If pressed to share where Easter comes from and what symbol best represents it’s history, many of us would point to the cross as the best symbol. But that’s not the case either. The cross is important and is a vital symbol of our Christian faith. But the cross was the beginning…not the end. Listen to what the Apostle Paul says to the early Christians in the city of Corinth.
“…and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile…” (1 Corinthians 15:17 NIV)
The cross is where Jesus’ mission was finished. In fact, during his last moments, Jesus called to His Heavenly Father and said, “It is finished.” His death purchased freedom for all who receive Him. But the empty grave is the proof of that purchase. It’s the empty grave that we celebrate on Easter…not just the cross. Without the resurrection of Jesus, our faith would be futile. The empty tomb is not only the perfect symbol of Easter, but it’s the perfect symbol of what God desires for us all. Freedom.
Because Jesus walked away victorious over sin and death, we can too. It was never His desire to have followers who ONLY cling to the cross, placing it around their neck and pulling it out when they need forgiveness and protection. Rather, Jesus desires followers who cling to the cross AND the empty grave. These are the followers who, just like Jesus, walk forward and let the world see the evidence of their victory over sin. Read His words to His disciples shortly before ascending into Heaven.
“…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 NIV, emphasis mine)
As you celebrate Easter this year, take time to consider what symbol best represents your faith. It is my prayer that each of you would have faith that leads to a resurrected life, letting the world around see and hear the story of Christ’s victory in you.