by Curtis Peter Van Gorder
Colored eggs and rabbits are perhaps the most popular symbols of Easter. But what do they have to do with Easter, anyways?
One folk story that was popular a hundred years ago tells of a princess, who in time of famine, wanted to give food to the children of her village. Hoping to make a fun activity out of the event, as it was Easter, she colored hard-boiled eggs with brilliant dyes and hid them in her garden for the children to find.
After the egg hunt the children sat down happily to eat their eggs. One of the children asked, “But where did such colorful eggs come from? Surely a hen would not lay such bright eggs.”
Just then, a rabbit ran out of the bushes and so the children thought the rabbit had brought the eggs. The princess, being humble and trying to avoid taking the credit for giving the eggs, did not correct the misconception and soon the story of the Easter bunny spread.
A charming legend, but we need look no further than the Easter story itself to find some better symbols. Let’s have them speak for themselves, shall we? — A strange idea? Not really. When the disciples sang a Psalm in praise of Jesus as He rode into Jerusalem on a colt, the Pharisees told Jesus to keep them quiet as they thought Jesus was receiving too much praise from them. Jesus responded with, ‘I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.’
Listen now — they speak.
I am the Bread of Easter. The Master raised me high and gave thanks. Then I was broken and given to the disciples. The Master said, “Take eat this is My body which is broken for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.” He was the bread of God that came down from heaven and gave His life for the world.
If you eat of me, you will soon be hungry again, but if you eat the Living Bread you will live forever. Man does not live by me alone, no, he needs something more – that more is Jesus.
I am the Crown of Thorns of Easter. I was a nuisance growing by the side of the road, struggling to survive, like so many people in the world. I was a curse on the ground for man’s sin. Like the Master, I was despised and rejected of men. I was picked up and fashioned into a crown. I was meant to be a cruel joke and a mockery, but I became an emblem of glory when the Father transformed me into a halo of loving-kindness and light.
I am the Reed of Easter held in the King of Kings right hand at His greatest time of trial. I too, was transformed. From a common walking stick I became a scepter of righteousness and a loving rod of iron with which He will rule the world.
I am the Scarlet Robe of Easter – Then I was old and tattered and threadbare — the kind that kings and generals wore. I was draped over His body in mockery of His kingship. But I was transformed into a robe of light — A garment as white as snow to show His purity and the brightness of His majesty!
I am the Wood of Easter. After 40 years of basking in forest’s Eden I was plucked to serve. I was nurtured for this moment – to become a cross. I was eager to be something useful; a chair, a table, a frame. But I was shaped instead into a cross. I lifted up the Master Carpenter and like a magnet; all men were drawn to Him. I held the nails that supported Him as He died for the world, even for men who killed Him. I was fashioned to be an instrument of death but instead I became the frame to hold the Picture of God – His Gift of eternal life.
I am the sponge of the first Easter that was held out to Christ as He cried from the cross, “I thirst”. But I could not slake His thirst, for His thirst was for the love of His bride. I was taken from the sea to swallow up liquids and then release them again when squeezed. I was soaked in vinegar and myrrh and held to His mouth on a stick but I could not comfort Him. Only His Father in Heaven could do that.
I am the grave cloth wound about His body in death. Joseph and Nicodemus soaked my clean linen cloth in much sweet smelling perfume to honor the Master. Then they laid Christ’s body in a sepulcher that no man had ever been buried in. A great stone was rolled at the door to prevent any intrusions.
The stone could not hold Him and neither could I for He broke out of our confines. I was cast off as a chrysalis is discarded when the butterfly takes flight. As a prisoner breaks free from his chains so Christ conquered the grave. He had too much life in Him for my shackles of mortality to hold Him. He had to be free.
We were all there at the first Easter, and what we are telling you is true, for we were there.
Luk 24:1 Now upon the first [day] of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain [others] with them.
Luk 24:2 And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.
Luk 24:3 And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.
Luk 24:4 And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:
Luk 24:5 And as they were afraid, and bowed down [their] faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?
Luk 24:6 He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee,
Luk 24:7 Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.
Luk 24:8 And they remembered his words,
Luk 24:9 And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest.
Luk 24:10 It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary [the mother] of James, and other [women that were] with them, which told these things unto the apostles.
Luk 24:11 And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.
Luk 24:12 Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.
Luk 24:13 And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem [about] threescore furlongs.
Luk 24:14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened.
Luk 24:15 And it came to pass, that, while they communed [together] and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.
Luk 24:16 But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.
Luk 24:17 And he said unto them, What manner of communications [are] these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?
Luk 24:18 And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?
Luk 24:19 And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:
Luk 24:20 And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.
Luk 24:21 But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.
Luk 24:22 Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre;
Luk 24:23 And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive.
Luk 24:24 And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found [it] even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.
Luk 24:25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:
Luk 24:26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?
Luk 24:27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
Luk 24:28 And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further.
Luk 24:29 But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.
Luk 24:30 And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed [it], and brake, and gave to them.
Luk 24:31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.
Luk 24:32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?
Luk 24:33 And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them,
Luk 24:34 Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.
Luk 24:35 And they told what things [were done] in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.
Luk 24:36 And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace [be] unto you.
Luk 24:37 But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.
Luk 24:38 And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?
Luk 24:39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.
Luk 24:40 And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them [his] hands and [his] feet.
Luk 24:41 And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat?
Luk 24:42 And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb.
Luk 24:43 And he took [it], and did eat before them.
Luk 24:44 And he said unto them, These [are] the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and [in] the prophets, and [in] the psalms, concerning me.
Luk 24:45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,
Luk 24:46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
Luk 24:47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
Luk 24:48 And ye are witnesses of these things.
Luk 24:49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.
Luk 24:50 And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them.
Luk 24:51 And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.
Luk 24:52 And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:
Luk 24:53 And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.
Redeem – to buy back, to repurchase, to get or win back, to free from captivity by payment of ransom, to extradite from or help to overcome something detrimental, to free from the consequences of sin, to release from blame or debt, repair or restore
From Webster’s REDEE’M, v.t. [L. redimo; red, re, and emo, to obtain or purchase.]
1. To purchase back; to ransom; to liberate or rescue from captivity or bondage, or from any obligation or liability to suffer or to be forfeited, by paying an equivalent; as, to redeem prisoners or captured goods; to redeem a pledge.
2. To repurchase what has been sold; to regain possession of a thing alienated, by repaying the value of it to the possessor.
If a man [shall] sell a dwelling house in a walled city, then he may redeem it within a whole year after it is sold.
3. To rescue; to recover; to deliver from.
Th’ Almighty from the grave hath me redeem’d.
Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles. Psa 25. Deu 7.
The mass of earth not yet redeemed from chaos.
4. To compensate; to make amends for.
It is a chance which does redeem all sorrows.
By lesser ills the greater to redeem.
5. To free by making atonement.
Thou hast one daughter who redeems nature from the general curse.
6. To pay the penalty of.
Which of you will be mortal to redeem man’s mortal crime?
7. To save.
He could not have redeemed a portion of his time for contemplating the powers of nature.
8. To perform what has been promised; to make good by performance. He has redeemed his pledge or promise.
9. In law, to recall an estate, or to obtain the right to re-enter upon a mortgaged estate by paying to the mortgagee his principal, interest, and expenses or costs.
10. In theology, to rescue and deliver from the bondage of sin and the penalties of God’s violated law, by obedience and suffering in the place of the sinner, or by doing and suffering that which is accepted in lieu of the sinner’s obedience.
Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us. Gal 3. Titus 2.
11. In commerce, to purchase or pay the value in specie, of any promissory note, bill or other evidence of debt, given by the state, by a company or corporation, or by an individual. The credit of a state, a banking company or individuals, is good when they can redeem all their stock, notes or bills, at par.
To redeem time, is to use more diligence in the improvement of it; to be diligent and active in duty and preparation. Eph 5.
Ransom – consideration paid or demanded for the release of someone or something in captivity
1. The money or price paid for the redemption of a prisoner or slave, or for goods captured by an enemy; that which procures the release of a prisoner or captive, or of captured property, and restores the one to liberty and the other to the original owner.
By his captivity in Austria, and the heavy ransom he paid for his liberty, Richard was hindered from pursuing the conquest of Ireland.
2. Release from captivity, bondage or the possession of an enemy. They were unable to procure the ransom of the prisoners.
3. In law, a sum paid for the pardon of some great offense and the discharge of the offender; or a fine paid in lieu of corporal punishment.
4. In Scripture, the price paid for a forfeited life, or for delivery or release from capital punishment.
Then he shall give for the ransom of his life, whatever is laid upon him. Exo 21.
5. The price paid for procuring the pardon of sins and the redemption of the sinner from punishment.
Deliver him from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom. Job 33.
The Son of man came – to give his life a ransom for many. Mat 20. Mark 10.
From Webster’s –
1. To redeem from captivity or punishment by paying an equivalent; applied to persons; as, to ransom prisoners from an enemy.
2. To redeem from the possession of an enemy by paying a price deemed equivalent; applied to goods or property.
3. In Scripture, to redeem from the bondage of sin, and from the punishment to which sinners are subjected by the divine law.
The ransomed of the Lord shall return. Isa 35.
4. To rescue; to deliver. Hosea 13.
Psa 49:15 But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me. Selah.
“David said by the spirit of prophecy, but God will redeem my soul from the judgment of hell;”
Hos 13:14 I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.
1Co 15:54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
1Co 15:55 O death, where [is] thy sting? O grave, where [is] thy victory?
1Co 15:56 The sting of death [is] sin; and the strength of sin [is] the law.
1Co 15:57 But thanks [be] to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Gen 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
Eph 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
Dan 7:13 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, [one] like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.
Dan 7:14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion [is] an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom [that] which shall not be destroyed.
Mat 24:30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
Mat 24:31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.