Sunday, March 25, 2018

Easter - The Bunny or the Beloved Son: Part 2

This is a followup to this entry

In the lobby of our apartment building and stores around our intersection, the seasonal decor is littered with bunnies and eggs in some form. There is even a poem by the elevator that talks about the easter bunny and leaving eggs all around. As great as it may seem to some people and to kids, it has only caused me to mourn for them because a) focusing on that is completely irrational (bunnies don't lay eggs) and it has absolutely no effective connection to the real reason for the holiday and b) they have played right into the devils trap to let yet another tool of Satan distract them from what is truly important.

Now, I don't want to give such a tool of the adversary any more attention than it deserves so I'm going to move on to the point of this post, to talk about the true significance of Easter (notice how I capitalized it that time because the "easter" bunny has nothing to do with the holiday).

Reading Matt Walsh's post today wishing everyone a blessed Palm Sunday and some of this blog, I was reminded of how much we disregard the true import of Easter and my efforts here are meant to hopefully wake some people up to where our hearts and minds should be this week and coming weekend.

I want to address the most important part of the role and mission of Jesus Christ from an angle that many have, perhaps, not considered. What are the two main effects of the fall of man overcome by Jesus' atonement? Sin and death. Which did He confront first? Sin. Why?

Here is where I begin a bit of a deeper analysis. Lets first remember the conditions of Salvation. When considering salvation from death, the scriptures clearly teach that such is a free gift. We have to do absolutely nothing to rise from the dead. He covered that on His own because - why? Because the fact of death isn't something we did, have or ever could bring upon ourselves. Death was brought into the world by Adam (1 Cor 15:22 - "As in Adam all die..."). Therefore nothing any human since him has ever done could possibly warrant their death, making it, therefore, merely a natural part of the effects of the fall. No one deserves to die. So, naturally, receiving a perfect body via resurrection is a free gift to all.

Salvation from sin is a different matter entirely because every sin we commit is entirely our fault. In order to be saved from sin we must repent. Just a side here thought about repentance for clarification, since, as King Benjamin taught in the Book of Mormon, "the natural man is an enemy to God." I got this from John Pontius, the author of The Triumph of Zion. "Repentance is not limited to refusing to choose evil. It is also choosing to embrace godliness and to be Christlike in dispensing grace to others. It is, quite literally, to repent of the human condition." We are saved from the effects of sin forever provided we repent and align our minds, hearts and therefore our actions with Jesus Christ.

Now, it makes sense to me that the reason He would confront sin and weakness first is two fold. First, if He had overcome death first, as perfected, resurrected body is not subject to physical pain and, therefore, cannot suffer the effects of the fall that must be paid for to redeem mankind. Second, it's always better to get the hardest part of anything out of the way first.

This leads into my newly realized reason for making a much bigger deal out of Easter and completely ignoring the evil distractions the devil uses to take out attention away from our Savior. What if Jesus had suffered for our sins but not gained the power to raise us all from the dead? What would happen? Well, death would obviously be irreversible. That would make eternal families impossible and our bodies would be destroyed forever, but there's an even worse effect. If Christ had not gained victory over death for all of us, there would have been no point in overcoming sin for us in the first place. Why did He need to overcome sin for us? Because no unclean thing can (or will want to) dwell in the presence of God and the original plan was for us all to return to Him and become like Him. If Christ had not risen from the dead, even if we had become cleansed from sin through repentance, it would have been pointless. What good is being clean and learning to use our bodies to live like God if we can't even use said bodies after our testing period (mortality) is over? As Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, "...the grace of God does not merely restore us to our previous innocent state. If salvation means only erasing our mistakes and sins, then salvation—as wonderful as it is—does not fulfill the Father’s aspirations for us. His aim is much higher: He wants His sons and daughters to become like Him."

Without a body, spiritually clean or not, we would actually be in miserable limbo forever. Going from the joys of having a body and using it properly to being stuck without one forever would make cleanliness and innocence pointless. It would be a lifetime of experience and effort and repentance and suffering and changing for nothing.  As one speaker pointed out in (I think) a recent General Conference (#LDSConf), we aren't meant to go backward (to innocence) or even just forward (cleansing), but upward as well (godliness) and resurrection is the only way to do that once we're freed from sin.

My invitation to all who read this is to ignore everything the rest of the world tries to make Easter about and focus on the original purpose of the holiday, to celebrate and rejoice in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ as the means for us to become more than clean - perfect and perfected. To have eternal joy and peace, to "return to His presence proven, pure, and sealed" as His forever. [Sister Elaine Dalton, Annual Women's Conference, 27 April 2012.]

Please ignore and even try to pull other's attention away from the eggs and the bunny and toward our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, this Easter week. How disrespectful and blasphemous it is to make Easter about something that draws our attention away from Him.

1. As the Hymn says:
"He is risen! He is risen!
Tell it out with joyful voice.
He has burst his three days’ prison;
Let the whole wide earth rejoice.
Death is conquered; man is free.
Christ has won the victory.

2. Come with high and holy hymning;
Chant our Lord’s triumphant lay.
Not one darksome cloud is dimming
Yonder glorious morning ray,
Breaking o’er the purple east,
Symbol of our Easter feast.

3. He is risen! He is risen!
He hath opened heaven’s gate.
We are free from sin’s dark prison,
Risen to a holier state.
And a brighter Easter beam
On our longing eyes shall stream."