There are many commercial images of Easter: eggs, bunnies, butterflies, lambs and daffodils; yet finding images relating to the Easter Gospel is often much harder. After all, images of crosses and tombs appear, to the untrained eye, to have all the wrong associations.
The new life of spring, shown by butterflies, flowers and eggs, are a contrast to the dead landscape of winter and provide a superficial metaphor for the new life God brings to creation. All these symbols have undergone change for life to emerge. For example, the butterfly transforms in the chrysalis, flowers emerge from the seeds of last year’s dead blooms, and eggs are smashed open by new-born chicks. But in the images of the Cross and the empty tomb, the mystery lies much deeper than any parallels from nature.
The deeper meaning of Easter lies in the power of God, the love of God, and the life of God.
God’s power at Easter, whilst dramatic, does not intrude upon our world. As Jesus appeared on the earth almost unnoticed, except to a few, so His resurrection happens quietly. Once again, it is those who go to look for Him who find Him. Mary Magdalene comes whilst it is still dark; distraught and confused by the empty tomb, she encounters not only the power of Jesus, who is risen, but the love she knows so well calling her name: ‘Mary’.
God’s love at Easter comforts the grieving Mary, but also brings forgiveness to Peter, embarrassed and ashamed by his earlier denial of Jesus. Peter had denied knowing Jesus three times; but is given the opportunity to reaffirm three times that he loves Him. God’s love and forgiveness shown by the risen Christ leads Peter and his fellow disciples to find God’s life.
God’s life at Easter is new life, but not as anyone had known it before. The life cycle of nature means that the butterflies, chicks and flowers will inevitably die again. Jesus’ resurrection gives us the assurance that God’s power, love and life will never leave us – new life is waiting for us: a new life of love and forgiveness beyond the grave.
Most glorious Lord of life, that on this day,
Didst make thy triumph over death and sin:
And having harrow’d hell, didst bring away
Captivity thence captive, us to win:
This joyous day, dear Lord, with joy begin,
And grant that we for whom thou diddest die,
Being with thy dear blood clean wash’d from sin,
May live for ever in felicity.
And that thy love we weighing worthily,
May likewise love thee for the same again:
And for thy sake, that all like dear didst buy,
With love may one another entertain.
So let us love, dear love, like as we ought,
Love is the lesson which the Lord us taught. (Edmund Spenser)
Happy Easter, Catherine