This Easter will be different than any our culture has experienced. Rather than meeting collectively with the body of Christ, most of us will stare at screens, participating in Easter services from a distance. Does your heart ache when thinking about this? Mine does. I have seen several Facebook posts suggesting we break from the church calendar and postpone our celebration of Easter until after this period of quarantine. I understand the sentiment, but I do not agree with it. Friends, there have been few cultural moments in which celebrating the resurrection has been more appropriate. Our isolation highlights the central theme of Easter – reconciliation.
Sin Brought About Isolation
Our ache to be reunited with others points us back to Eden. In their sinless state, our first parents had perfect fellowship with God, with one another, and even with themselves. But then everything changed.
In Genesis 3, we see that Adam and Eve’s rebellion immediately brought about isolation. Upon eating the fruit of the tree, Adam and Eve realized they were naked. They clothed themselves in fig leaves, hiding their sin and shame from one another (Gen. 3:7). But that was just the beginning of their isolation. When God walked through the garden, Adam and Eve ducked behind trees. Their sin had separated them from the Holy God, isolating them from their Creator (Gen. 3:8-9). And when God questioned the couple about their rebellion, it became clear that Adam and Eve were even isolated from within. They deceived themselves about their guilt and pointed the blame at another (Gen. 3:12-13).
This Crisis Makes Our Isolation Impossible to Ignore
As descendants of Adam and Eve, we have inherited this sin-soaked isolation. We enter this world separated from God, separated from others, and even separated from a correct understanding of who we are. In our typical frenzied pace, we rarely have time to pause and recognize the ache of isolation. However, this pandemic has brought most of the world to a halt. And social-distancing has forced us to stare our isolation in the face.
We feel the ache of loneliness, as we are physically separated from family and friends. But even if we are not entirely distanced from others, we still feel the sting of isolation. As we spend greater amounts of time cooped up at home, harsh words, ungrateful attitudes, and selfish actions lead to isolation from those in our immediate families. The fear in the eyes of our friends and neighbors’ points to the hopelessness of a life separated from God. And the mad-dashes to hoard toilet paper and other supplies highlight our separation from a true understanding of who we really are. The reality of isolation and loneliness that we now face is precisely why this is the perfect season in which to celebrate Easter.
The Empty Tomb Brings Reconciliation
Easter is all about reconciliation. On the cross, Jesus paid the price for our sins. As He breathed His last breath, the curtain of the temple, the striking symbol of our separation from God, was torn in two (Matt. 27:50-51). As He drew His first resurrected breath, Jesus triumphed over death (1 Cor. 15:55-57). Our sin debt was canceled (Rom. 5:10-11). And we can now be reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:18-19). No more hiding. No more isolation. Easter brings about reconciliation with our Creator.
Through this restored relationship with God, we are brought into the body of Christ and we gain reconciled relationships with one another (Eph. 2:13-16, Col. 1:20). We no longer need to hide from each other. We can be honest about both our struggles and our victories because we belong to the same body (Eph. 2:19-22). If that weren’t enough, we also have a reconciled relationship with ourselves. We can admit that we have violated God’s perfect standard and that our only hope is in Jesus (Eph 2:1-6, Col. 1:21-22). And, though we haven’t done anything to deserve such favor, we can rejoice that nothing can separate us from the love of God (Eph. 2:8-9, Rom. 8:38-39). On all fronts, the empty tomb shouts, “Reconciliation!”
Yes, this Easter will be a lonely one. Lord willing, it will be the only one we face in isolation. But let us take full advantage of the ache of loneliness. Let it remind us of all that was won at the cross and the empty tomb. And may this be the year we more fully understand the immeasurable beauty of God reconciling the world to Himself.