Mixed emotions about Easter

When my grandfather died in the 1980’s some of his books ended up in my mother’s house. I read quite a few of them and I especially remember The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas. I can’t remember any details from the book, other than being fascinated by the Roman officer that executed Jesus. He travelled through Judea, Samaria and Galilee, in this fictional book, on a quest to find out more about Jesus.

It feels like I have done the same for much of the time since I read this book as a teenager. That’s so long ago it feels like a different life, someone else’s life. I have been trying to figure out who this Jesus person is and where he can be located. It’s supposed to be so easy, but I guess it would help if I was more of a people person, or if these people I’m supposed to trust didn’t make life harder.

The Easter story is very troubling. Judas Iskariot was in some ways like me, he was the odd one out. He wasn’t like the other disciples and maybe he didn’t have much of a personal relationship with Jesus. That’s what the author wants us to believe anyway. Was he a part of God’s plan from the moment he became a disciple? Could he have chosen differently? If we assume that God used Judas as a part of his plan, was that fair? If he did, Judas didn’t deserve to be known as the man who betrayed Jesus. Why did Jesus want him as a disciple?

I know I should be thinking of Jesus during Easter, and no one else. I recognize that Jesus is the main story, but there are also some disturbing elements in the story. It’s as if nothing has changed since God supposedly took pleasure in killing the Canaanites, and even though the people of Jericho didn’t attack Israel, but stayed inside the walls, Israel was ordered to kill all of them (Joshua 6:22). It’s troubling thinking that Judas showed remorse, but forgiveness was not an option, while it clearly was for Peter when he later betrayed Jesus. Mark 14:18 suggest that Jesus really saw Judas as a betrayer.

I’m sure some of you would gladly tell me that Peter never gave up, never allowed despair to overwhelm him, and always trusted God’s plan. Being rather tenacious myself I can see that point, but I do have some sympathy for Judas. The blogger Under Reconstruction recently posted Judas Iskariot and the Year of Mercy. That might be the message the author of the gospel wanted to send us, but there are many events in the Bible I have never felt comfortable with, and this is one of them. I also recommend Wrestling With Faith – Dancing With Jesus. This Danish blogger living in Japan posted My Savior is Alive today.

God’s love for man may be very strange at times, but Easter is still a happy time. I think someone in Church told my daughter that Easter is the most important holiday. I see the point, but I don’t think the birth of Jesus was necessarily less important. Like Christmas this is a good time to reflect on the meaning of life, and what we should focus on during the short time we get to spend on this planet.

Christianity took over some pagan traditions and made them a part of their own religion. I assume that’s where the eggs came from, but the symbolism does make a certain amount of sense. When we crack the eggs open we are reminded of the resurrection of Christ and the empty tomb.

Dyed eggs
Spring is colourful and that also adds something special to Easter breakfast.

I’m not sure about the symbolism in the colours, but I assume that red symbolises the blood of Christ. We like to dye the eggs for Easter breakfast using baking soda and juice from black berries to get green. Turmeric or yellow safran and vinegar makes the eggs yellow, beets and vinegar give you pink, red cabbage and vinegar give you blue, and red onion or coffee and vinegar give you brown eggs. I guess we’ll keep doing this as long as my daughter likes it.

6 thoughts on “Mixed emotions about Easter

  1. Thank you for an honest and insightful post.
    I too have had a lot of trouble swallowing the whole Judas scenario and it took me a long time to come to terms with what “we are supposed to believe” – Judas betrayed by choice, killed himself and went to hell… I personally don’t think it’s that simple, but the truth is that a lot of questions won’t be answered until we get to the throne ourselves. So I made the choice of believing that it’s simply not that simple but through my faith I can wait for the answer. For years I didn’t want to have anything to do with the whole easter egg thing, until a loved fellow believer said to me “why take the fun away from the kids”… I chewed on that one for a bit and coloring eggs or doing an easter egg hunt seems more like an outreach really rather than something spiritual – even if it certainly does have pagan roots. I can’t come to terms with halloween though but that’s a different story.
    Faith is illogical. It doesn’t make sense… that’s why it’s called faith I suppose, not that I’m an expert!! I admirer your chase after Jesus.

    1. Thank you for those kind words. As for pagan traditions I suppose most of them can get a proper Christian content. I have heard about some Christians refusing to give their children Christmas presents and decorating their house because that’s not in the Bible. I don’t think it’s necessary to go that far, but of course many people go too far in the opposite direction.

    2. It’s always a balance. But I don’t read anywhere in the Bible to not celebrate those occasions worthy of celebration; the birth of Jesus, His Resurrection, Pentecost etc. Maybe it’s not about “how” we celebrate, but the “why” we celebrate.

  2. John,

    The Bible does not say that “forgiveness was not an option” for Judas. Forgiveness WAS an option, but Judas was so ashamed and so full of guilt, that he did not think he could be forgiven, and committed suicide. Had he just waited, he would have seen Jesus after his resurrection, and he would have known that Jesus had forgiven him, and he would also see how God used his betrayal as part of a bigger plan. Peter was guilty and ashamed too, but he did not commit suicide. Of course, he did not deliver Jesus to his murderers, as Judas did, so although he would have felt guilt and shame, it would not have been at the level at which Judas did.

    Also, remember how the priests mocked and condemned Judas when he tried to repent and return the blood money. THEY told him it was too late for him, that it was hopeless. Judas did not expect Jesus to rise from the dead; Judas did not understand that Jesus had gone to the cross willingly to pay the price for Judas’ sin. Judas did not even know that Jesus forgave him

  3. I hit enter before finishing the thought:

    I meant to say, “Judas did not even know that Jesus had already forgiven him while he was hanging on the cross. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” That would have included Judas. Judas was already forgiven, he just didn’t know it, despaired, and could not accept forgiveness.

    Even today, we often do this ourselves. We ask God to forgive us; He does, but we cannot forgive ourselves. We cannot see the love, the grace, the forgiveness, only our sin, that can seem at times, so horrible. So, even those of us who are believers, have sinned, and yet don’t always accept His forgiveness, and carry around condemnation, guilt, shame, etc. And Satan wants us to believe that our sins are unforgivable, that we must be punished, that we must deliver ourselves through some kind of penance, or good works or deeds.

    As humans, we often cannot see, with our limited frame of reference, the bigger picture, of how God can use even our failings, our sins, our faults, our flaws to serve his purpose. That is part of the redemption, that is part of grace. The worst sinner, who recieves Christ, comes away from his sin with the greatest testimony, that point other sinners to the cross, to deliverance, to repentance, to freedom.

    Think about Mary Magdalene, believed to be a prostitute. Mary is known for two things after Jesus saves her from stoning and forgives her:

    1) she is the one who annointed Jesus feet with the costly ointment. Jesus told his grumbling disciples that the story of her deed to would be told throughout history whenever the gospel is told. 2000 years later, we all know this story of a “fallen woman, ” a prostitute.

    2) She is one of the women who went to the tomb to annoint Jesus’ body. She is one of of the first people who saw Jesus risen from the dead. SHE was the one who first announced, “HE IS RISEN.” The first person who proclaimed the resurrection was a notorious sinner, a former prostitute.

    Judas, too, had a choice. Although it served God’s purpose, Judas did have a choice, both before and after the betrayal. He repented, but could not receive the forgiveness. I have to wonder, if God had mercy on Judas, anyway. He did repent. He did not know he could be forgiven. The knowledge that the disciples and all of us today have about the resurrection, had not happened at that point. We believers today know better, and yet, often like Judas, we still struggle to accept that forgiveness and the grace. Judas really didn’t know any better, so I hope God had mercy on him despite the circumstances.

    P.s. The book, “The Robe” was one of my favorites as a teenager. That book, along with its sequel, about Marcellus’ slave, Demetrius was also a favorite, and a book called “Quo Vadis” was another favorite. In case you don’t remember, Marcellus was the tribune’s name. I loved these books so much, I decided back then that if I ever had a son, I would name him Demetrius.

    Also, this week, I saw a new movie, “Risen,” which was similar to to “The Robe,” but it was sort of like “CSI Judea.” It was a very good movie, and kept to Scripture remarkably well. I really liked it.

  4. Not to disrespect all the Demetrius’ of the world, but I’m glad my parents didn’t find your kind of inspiration.

    It would be shocking and hard to accept if God didn’t have any mercy to give for Judas. It’s tragic that he didn’t get the whole message.

    I’m sure God can use our flaws for something, and most Christians have a lot of them, but it seems to me that we get into the same problem Judas did. The people he went to for forgiveness could have handled things differently. I’m not always convinced that God has better representatives today.

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