I recently heard a pastor friend of mine say that Easter is like the Superbowl for Christians. I thought about that for a minute, and then heartily agreed. I believe he means that what the Superbowl is to American sports culture, Easter is to Christianity. In football all the practice, the regular season games, and playoffs have been leading up to this: the final showdown to determine who is the best. The final, decisive message telling the competition that “today, we’re going to prove it to you, we’re the best. Period.”
As I look back on the years that I have been following football, however loosely, I think of all the Superbowls I have watched. Since I started at around 5 years old and may have missed one or two along the way, let’s say I’ve seen about 25. In that quarter-century of decisive, end-all gameplay, it strikes me that there are so few repeat Superbowl champs. There are a few who have had streaks of success, like New England in the 2000s, but few, if any, teams whose message of dominance has spanned more than a year or two.
Now contrast this to the Easter story. The reason that we celebrate Easter is because Emmanuel, God-with-us, the Son of God, Jesus Christ, gave a final, decisive massage to his opponents this day, almost 2,000 years ago. On this day he rose up from the grave, conquered death, and created a clear, holistic reconciliation for mankind unto God. In short, he invited us into the fold of God, no longer as servants, but friends. And this victory that Jesus won is not one that is replayed over and over, year after year, in order to prove who is the best. Jesus won. The rich history of annual celebration of Easter is simply the remembrance and reminder of this victory. What a cause for celebration! I can think of no greater reason for celebration than our acceptance into the family of the creator of the universe!
But what has happened? Why then do we, as Christians, live in ways that so often lack in joy? I spend very little time in true celebration of the greatest victory the universe has ever known. Knowing the victory that Christ has won on our behalf ought to be enough to create some serious joy in us, regardless of the weight of the present situation. Through the victory of Easter, Jesus left us with great hope. In John 16:33 Jesus tells us, “…In me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
While Easter is a once a year event, the true celebration of Easter ought to be a daily occurrence to the followers of Christ. If we truly believe that it happened, let us join together in joyful celebration of this new life that Jesus ensured on that first Easter morn. Let us live our lives in celebration of this reality by doing the three most important things that Jesus taught: Love God, love your neighbor and make disciples. Let us celebrate in joyful service. God loves us regardless of what we do, who we are, or where we’ve been. But if the story of Easter and the hope and joy that it brings are real to us, we must be compelled to tell others.
Remember the victory. Celebrate it daily. Get involved and share the celebration, for he is risen indeed!