The Meaning of Easter image

The Meaning of Easter

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Like Andrew (fear not – he returns next week) I have been greatly enriched by reading Fleming Rutledge’s The Crucifixion. Our Good Friday service this year is based around the eight motifs of the cross that Rutledge describes. The breadth of these would fill many Good Friday services.

Of all the many quotable things Rutledge writes, and the many other writers she quotes, perhaps the most striking illustration is this one, relating to the motif of Passover and Exodus:

In his book about the civil rights movement, Andrew Young recalls the parting of the waters in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1964. “Easter Sunday dawned with Martin Luther King in jail. We planned a march from New Pilgrim Baptist Church to the city jail for the afternoon of Easter Sunday. By the time church ended some 5000 people had gathered dressed in their best Sunday clothes.”

The marchers set out in a festive mood. Suddenly they saw police, fire engines, and fireman with hoses in front of them, blocking their path. Bull Connor bellowed, “Turn this group around!” 5000 people stopped and waited for instruction from their leaders.

Wyatt Walker and I were leading the march. I can’t say we knew what to do. I know I didn’t want to turn the march around. I asked the people to get down on their knees and offer a prayer. Suddenly Rev. Charles Billups, one of the most faithful and fearless leaders of the old Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights, jumped up and hollered, “The Lord is with this movement! Off your knees! We’re going on!” Stunned at first, Bull Connor yelled, “Stop ‘em, stop ‘em!” But none of the police moved a muscle. Even the police dogs that had been growling and straining at their leashes were now perfectly calm. I saw one fireman, tears in his eyes, just let the hose drop at his feet. Our people marched right between the red fire trucks, singing, “I want Jesus to walk with me.”

Bull Connor’s policeman had refused to arrest us, his firemen had refused to hose us, and his dogs had refused to bite us. It was quite a moment to witness. I’ll never forget one old woman who became ecstatic when she marched through the barricades. As she passed through, she shouted, “Great God Almighty done parted the Red Sea one mo’ time!”


Yes! God has parted the Sea. Jesus has rescued us from slavery. And…

Jesus’ blood atones for us. And…

Jesus paid a price for our salvation. And…

Jesus deals with the verdict against sin. And…

Jesus wages a great cosmic war. And…

Jesus faces and defeats death. And…

Jesus took our place on the cross. And…

Jesus makes all things new.

Hallelujah! Happy Easter!

 

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