Author: Lori Carter
The word Eastre is said to be an ancient word meaning “spring” while other sources state that Easter came from “Eostre” who was the Goddess of fertility in Saxon culture. The Easter egg is supposed to represent the empty tomb, while the Easter Bunny actually represents fertility since rabbits procreate faster than most animals and it was usually in the spring that new baby bunnies were seen.
It was many years ago on Easter Sunday, I took my seat among the crowd that attended this Easter Service. As is normal in most churches, more people seem to attend on Easter Sunday and Christmas Eve than any other time of the year. People were shuffling around, looking for seats and settling down. I am sure not all of them had their minds on the service as much as they did the family feast that was planned afterward.
The pastor led us in prayer and then introduced the guest speaker. My memory fades on certain events as I get older. Today I couldn’t tell you what year it was or who the pastor or guest speakers are, but I remember this sermon very well.
He started out by asking if we really knew what Jesus went through before his crucifixion. He wanted to know if anyone could actually say what Jesus, the son of God, experienced during his ministry and why he was sent in the first place. He went on to describe the sorrow Jesus felt at John’s beheading, the irritation he felt when his mother approached about the wine at the wedding, the anger he felt when he found the money changers in the temple, and the impatience he felt with his disciples and non-believers. He even went through temptation at the hand of Satan.
He felt love, anger, hurt, remorse, impatience, and all the other emotions that men when through. He saw suffering, abuse, disease, oppression, hunger, and sin. He experienced in a short time everything that man felt, so he could go back to his father as an intercessor for our prayers, to ask forgiveness for our sins, because he now had firsthand knowledge of what “man” was going through.
After he talked about this, he started talking about the days that led up to the crucifixion of Christ. He asked us if we truly understood what scourging was. I didn’t know for sure but I do now. To Scourge someone is to whip them. This type of punishment isn’t used in our society today so many do not realize what kind of injury or pain it produces. When we think of whipping, we usually associate it with our parents using a belt or switch to discipline us when we were younger.
The whip they used on Jesus is often called “the cat of nine-tails”; however the actual Roman “flagrum” only consisted of three leather strands. The cat of nine tails has long leather handle, which has nine braided leather strands coming out. At the end of each strand is a sharp instrument, glass, stone, metal, and thorns, anything that is jagged and will cut through the skin. It was the custom of the Jews to whip a criminal with 39 lashes, making sure he was still alive before he was hung on the cross to die. The Romans whipped as many times as they wanted as they didn’t follow such rules.
This pastor went on like something like this “the crown of thorns that was put on Jesus head was pushed down so far it was actually embedded in his skull. He was whipped 39 times, with each lash tearing away the skin on his back, each blow going deeper into the bloody mess his back was turning into.
Jesus did not cry out in pain. He quietly withstood the abuse and lashings as his skin was ripped from his body. As he walked down the path to Calgary carrying his cross, the blood ran down his back and legs and so much skin was gone that his lungs could be seen expanding with every labored breath he took.”
By the time he was finished describing what Jesus actually went through, there wasn’t a dry eye in the church. I had never heard the “Easter Sermon” given in such a form and it stuck with me for the rest of my life.
As you attend church services, dressed in your Easter finery, and eat that special Easter dinner with family and friends, remember the celebration of Jesus Resurrection. We know that if we were placed in a grave or tomb with the injuries he received we would not rise again. We know if we were nailed to a cross, we would not live through it. This is positive proof that he was God’s only son for he rose on the third day to sit at the right hand of his father.
Criminals, today, need not fear the punishment and cruel death that was our savior’s lot. Things are much more humane with pardons, life sentences, and if death is the punishment, lethal injection allows these criminals a short lived time of pain and suffering.
I have often imagined what my response would be if someone told me my son had to be sacrificed on a cross to save mankind. My instincts tell me I wouldn’t be willing to do it, I would be trying to find another answer, another way that wouldn’t include the sacrifice and murder of my own flesh in blood. Remember today the sacrifice that was made when God allowed his son to be tortured and murdered for our sins.