From Palm Sunday to Good Friday to Easter morning, the Easter season is beautiful, especially to Christians. Yet when we take a closer look at the biblical account of Easter, it isn’t hard to see that there are many painful, devastating, and maybe even ugly moments in this story.
In Matthew 26:36-46 and Luke 22:39-46, we witness Jesus praying in Gethsemane in preparation for the work ahead of him and it is a heart-breaking scene to envision.
“And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.’ And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Luke 22:41-44, ESV)
The sinless Son of God is seen weeping and sweating drops of blood as he prepares to take on the sins of many. He asks that this heavy cup would pass from him and yet he submits to the will of the Father.
Shortly after, we see him abandoned by his faithful friends. He is betrayed with a kiss by Judas (Luke 22:47-48), the rest of his disciples flee when faced with danger (Matt. 26:56), and Peter goes on to deny Jesus three times (Luke 22:54-62). With immense hardship quickly approaching, Jesus is left to suffer alone.
He is then arrested, mocked, questioned, and falsely accused. Jesus Christ, who is himself the truth, is accused of blasphemy.
“Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward.” (Matt. 26:59-60a)
As his accusers mocked him relentlessly, they clothed him in royal robes and crowned him with thorns, giving a clear idea of what they thought of his kingship. They beat him and spit on him and when they were done, they stripped him of his clothing again and delivered him to be crucified (Matt. 27:27–31).
Everything finally culminates in this crucial moment in the Easter story. There he is: the Son of God, with no sin or stain, beaten and bloodied and nailed to the cross. He who knew no sin now bearing the sins of many as well as the judgment earned by those sins. Bearing the full wrath of God and the absence of the Father’s love, Jesus died the death that was our due.
Where is the beauty in all this horror and tragedy? How could the tears, betrayal, false accusations, a crown of thorns, and the death of the only man undeserving of death be considered beautiful? In spite of all these painful and cruel pieces, Easter is still beautiful for at least three reasons.
First, Easter is beautiful because of who Jesus is. Isaiah 53:2 speaks of Jesus saying that “he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him” (ESV) and yet he is still beautiful. He is our sinless Saviour, our righteous King, and our good and loving Shepherd who laid down his life for us. And for that, he is beautiful.
Secondly, Easter is beautiful because of what it accomplished for us. Because of what Jesus did at Easter, we who believe have redemption, peace with God, eternal life, enduring hope, and a sure salvation. None of us have any ability to free ourselves from our sin, but Jesus took our sins and the punishment we deserved so that we could be saved. This is beautiful.
Finally, Easter is beautiful because Jesus is alive! He did not stay on that cross and he did not stay in the grave. Three days after he died, he rose again to life. He is risen! Though it is right to feel the weight and the sadness of what Christ experienced on that cross, we must not stay there. We must keep looking and keep reading! Jesus is our risen Lord. That is beautiful.
As we move into Good Friday, do not skip past the painful aspects of the Easter story, but also be sure not to forget what comes next. While we sit with the weight and gravity of Good Friday, let us also look forward with hope to Easter Sunday and remember with great joy that Easter is beautiful, and Jesus is alive!
From all of us at TWR Canada, Happy Easter!