Christmas is a wonderful season. It is without question the most wonderful time of the year. However, the Easter season ought to be co-equal with the Christmas season, and it is for many, if not most people who are fully devoted followers of Christ. The Christmas season surpasses the Easter season in terms of awe and wonder only because it generates so many warm, fuzzy feelings among almost everyone. Fully committed Christians, carnal Christians, those who are under the impression they are Christians, unbelievers, and even some atheists are calmed, soothed, and reassured that at least some things are right with the world. The holiday spirit brings some peace, some happiness, some order into their world. Giving and receiving gifts softens even the hardest and most cynical of hearts. The feasting (as long as alcohol is omitted) brings a contented lethargy that makes it too much trouble to argue or fight. Some semblance of peace is achieved for a season.
The prophet Isaiah, who lived hundreds of years before Christ, spoke exhilarating words of promise and hope in Isaiah 9 concerning the Christ Child, “You shall multiply the nation,
You shall increase their gladness; They will be glad in Your presence ……For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” NASU
Isaiah also spoke some tough, hard to accept words, in Isaiah 53 about the grown-up Christ Child, “He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth.” NASU
The Easter season does not generate warm, fuzzy feelings among the general population. The Christ child is not offensive. The Greatest Gift and the giving of lesser gifts do not give offense. The Christ Child becomes the Great and Bloody Sacrifice which offends. The Cornerstone becomes a stumbling block. Only the redeemed can stomach the work of the Redeemer. Only those who have experienced the lifting of the burden, the forgiveness of sin, the restored soul, and the reconciliation with a holy God can embrace the cross and the empty tomb. It is meaningless, offensive, and frightening to all others. The cross and the empty tomb must not be separated from manger. All three were planned from before the foundation of the world. They are bound together in the strongest of bonds. It is not possible to truly understand “Joy to the World” unless you understand “The Old Rugged Cross”. The greatest tragedy of all would be to celebrate a lifetime of warm, fuzzy, holiday seasons and miss your appointment at the foot of the cross. Christ has prepared a gift for you. It is not yours until you accept it. Will you receive The Gift?