Easter is going to be a little different this year.
How could it not be? With the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping across the nation and most states currently under a shelter-in-place order, maintaining our cherished Easter traditions has become all but impossible. Extended families will not gather together this year. Parents will not inflict bow ties on their sons and fancy Easter dresses on their daughters: most churches will observe Easter Sunday in an online-only format this year, so there’s really no need to get all dressed up. I’m sure there will be a marked decline in large-scale Easter egg hunts too (social distancing, you know).
But then again, the first Easter was a little different too. Dead men don’t rise. Our common human experience and intuition are quite decisive on this point. Once a body is laid to rest, that’s it. No more gatherings. No more conversations. Not in this life anyway. At least that was the case, until that first glorious Easter Sunday morning when a dead man did rise. And in so doing, He defeated death and Hell forever. Those malign enemies are now but fangless, clawless specters to all who know the Lord. They can scare us. They can trouble us. But they cannot ultimately hurt us, because Christ the Lord is risen from the grave.
The coronavirus is like that too. It can trouble us. It can hurt us. It can tank the stock market and inflict loneliness, anxiety, and uncertainty. It can even take our loved ones from us. But that’s the worst it can do, because Christ the Lord is risen from the grave. The coronavirus can never separate us from God’s love (Rom. 8:31–39). It can never remove our unshakable hope for a far greater country in the life hereafter, where every tear will be wiped away and where sickness, sorrow, sin, and death will be obliterated forever as Jesus makes all things new (Rev. 21:4–5). It cannot even change the fact that God has already blessed us with every spiritual blessing, promised us an unfading inheritance, and positionally seated us in the heavens with Christ (Eph. 1:3–14; 2:1–6). The coronavirus looks very scary to us right now, but in the grand scheme of things its influence is quite limited. One day God will effortlessly sweep it away along with every other sickness, pain, trial, and atrocity of this life, and He will replace it with all that is good and pure and joyful. And the greatest news imaginable is that you and I will be there to see it, because Christ the Lord is risen from the grave.
Easter is going to be a little different this year. But that’s okay, because Easter isn’t really about the traditions. It’s not about the family gatherings or Easter egg hunts or special services. It’s about the fact that Christ the Lord is risen from the grave, and on the basis of His death and resurrection, He promises eternal life to all who trust in Him. So whatever happens over the next few months, you can trust Him. Even if everything in this life comes crumbling down around you, you can cling to Jesus, the wonder-working Savior, Who triumphed over death and redeems all that is broken and undone.
He is risen! He is risen indeed.
David Gunn is director of Regular Baptist Press.