Viewpoint: Easter, a Symbol of Hope and Renewal
Contributed By The Church News
- Easter celebrates the greatest of all victories: the triumph of life over death.
- The Resurrection shows the love of the Father and the Son for all mankind.
All around us, with the emergence of new life at this beautiful time of year in the Northern Hemisphere, there is a ubiquitous, visual sermon to be observed, experienced, and cherished.
Since the winter solstice last December 22, the period of sunlight with each passing day has gradually, almost imperceptibly, been increasing, bringing with it a feeling of hope and renewal.
In many parts of the hemisphere, dormant, brown lawn grass is growing gradually greener. Tiny buds are appearing on leafless trees. Tulips, daffodils, and other perennials are beginning to shoot up through the surface of soil that only weeks ago appeared barren.
Taken together, it all conveys a feeling of hope and anticipation with the dark days of winter giving way to the brilliance of spring and the busy time to come of sowing and eventually reaping the bounty of God’s blessings.
Easter, though it comes on a different calendar day each year, is tied to a specific annual occurrence: the vernal equinox, between March 20 and 22, the moment at which the sun is directly over the earth’s equator, making for days and nights around earth that are approximately equal in length.
The vernal equinox, of course, marks the first day of spring, and Easter is reckoned as being the Sunday after the first full moon after that day. The timing was fixed anciently in an effort to harmonize solar and lunar calendars so that Easter would be celebrated at approximately the same time as the Jewish Passover; the occasions, of course, are similar in significance, as they celebrate deliverance of God’s people through His mercy to them.
In any event, the timing of Easter could not be more propitious, considering its message and the applicable symbolism that can be seen in the springtime environment.
Easter is all about renewal of life, the celebration of a morning of light, hope, relief, and deliverance after a long night of despair, ignorance, and error.
Easter celebrates the greatest of all victories: the triumph of life over death, of reconciliation over estrangement, of freedom over the bondage of sin.
Easter recognizes the greatest of all miracles, wrought by transcendent love—love of the Father for His children enough to send His Only Begotten Son as a ransom for their deliverance from sin and death.
Easter recognizes the love of the Son for all mankind, enough to endure the infliction of one of the cruelest forms of death—crucifixion—and the incomprehensible agony experienced in the Garden of Gethsemane, as He wrought the Atonement for the sins of all who have ever lived or who ever will live.
In the third chapter of the classic Latter-day Saint work Jesus the Christ, Elder James E. Talmage of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles expressed it in words that ring as true today as they did a century ago when the book was published:
“Jesus Christ was the only Being suited to the requirements of the great sacrifice:
“1—As the one and only sinless Man;
“2—As the Only Begotten of the Father and therefore the only Being born to earth possessing in their fullness the attributes of both Godhood and manhood;
“3—As the One who had been chosen in the heavens and foreordained to this service.
“What other man has been without sin, and therefore wholly exempt from the dominion of Satan, and to whom death, the wage of sin, is not naturally due? Had Jesus Christ met death as other men have done—the result of the power that Satan has gained over them through their sins—His death would have been but an individual experience, expiatory in no degree of any faults or offenses but His own. Christ’s absolute sinlessness made Him eligible, His humility and willingness rendered Him acceptable to the Father, as the atoning sacrifice whereby propitiation could be made for the sins of all men.
“What other man has lived with power to withstand death, over whom death could not prevail, except through his own submission? Yet Jesus Christ could not be slain until His ‘hour had come,’ and that, the hour in which He voluntarily surrendered His life, and permitted His own decease through an act of will. Born of a mortal mother He inherited the capacity to die; begotten by an immortal Sire He possessed as a heritage the power to withstand death indefinitely. He literally gave up His life; to this effect is His own affirmation: ‘Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again’ (John 10:17-18). And further: ‘For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given the Son to have life in himself’ (John 5:26). Only such a One could conquer death; in none but Jesus the Christ was realized this requisite condition of the Redeemer of the world” (Jesus the Christ, 21–22).
As Easter is about the love of the Father and the Son for us, likewise we show our love for Them in our reverent observance of this day and our remembrance of Their sacrifice.
A mother who displayed for her young children a depiction of Christ suffering on the cross hastened to assure them, “Do you know what? He’s all better now.”
She was right: having overcome death and paid the price for the sins and afflictions of mankind, He is all better, as we will be if we follow Him and allow His atoning sacrifice to be efficacious in our lives.
As He Himself expressed it: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).