We prepare ourselves for so many things. Every important day or event we spend invaluable time making sure everything is perfect and everything is ready. My daughter will be celebrating her first anniversary on June 2nd. I will never forget the time and effort it took to make sure her Wedding Day was perfect and an event that would leave an indelible mark in all of our lives. We prepare and plan for what is important to us. Many parents are sending their High School children to prom during this time of year. Do you plan and prepare for prom? Of course, you do. Why? Because it’s an important day and you want to make sure your children are ready to get the very most out of the special evening. You prepare and plan for what’s important to you.
How about Easter? Is Easter important enough for you to prepare and plan for? Now, I’m not asking about Easter lunch. I know you are planning and preparing for Easter Lunch. In our home, we’ve already created a menu and invited family and friends to join us. I’m talking about Easter. How will you prepare your heart and soul for Easter Sunday? We want to sound increasingly holy and say it’s just another Sunday. However, it’s not. It is a special day and a very holy day. So, if Easter is important will you plan and prepare for it? Let me offer you a couple of suggestions:
- Read – If you have time to only read one book during Easter week, read the Bible. Spend time daily in the Gospels. Pour the Gospels over your heart and soul this week. Linger in the last few days of Jesus’ earthly life. I would recommend the following: Matthew 21:1-27:65; Mark 11:12-15:47; Luke 19:28-23:56; John 12:1-19:42 – Reflect upon the remarkable story of our Lord’s last week on this earth. Be amazed, be broken, be humbled, be shocked, be grateful as you read. Realize He could have traveled anywhere to stay away from the humiliation and shame of the cross. Instead, He willingly and lovingly walks the road to the cross. Read the story this Easter season with fresh eyes. Read them again for the first time.
- If you have time, add other books too. There are many great titles. James M. Boice and Philip Ryken have a great little book on the trial of Jesus that always blesses my heart. It’s called, “Jesus on Trial.” There are so many great titles. I still remember reading Max Lucado’s “Six House One Friday.” It was such a blessing. Last year, Heidi and I read, “The Final Days of Jesus” by Andreas Kostenberger and Justin Taylor. It blessed my heart so much I’ve included it as my April book in my Pastor’s Book Club. I’m excited to read it again.
- Love Others – You should always love people, but Easter week is a wonderful time to go above and beyond. Have you ever wondered why Christians enjoy the Christmas season so much? It’s because we are so focused on others. For 25 days, we are going out of our way to bless others. We give others our time, our money, many gifts, and we are generally kinder and more loving. We can do that for Easter too. Go out of your way this week to bless others. Buy someone’s lunch this week. Pay for someone’s coffee as you drive-thru Starbucks. Invite them to Easter Worship. People are much more likely to attend church on Easter than any other day. Invite them. Go out of your way to show others Christ’s love as He showed His love for us Easter week nearly 2000 years ago. If you are attending FSBC, come volunteer at our Easter Outreach on Saturday.
- Good Friday – Press deeply into Jesus on Good Friday. Wake up earlier than usual. As you begin the day, imagine what this day must have been like for our Lord. He has already cried out to the Father to have the cup removed and He heard the Father say, “No.” As you wake early, He is standing before Pilate receiving his death sentence that you and I deserve, not the spotless lamb of God. Don’t walk through Good Friday hurriedly and unreflectively. Attend a Good Friday service. Our service begins at 6:00 pm. It is a very somber and reflective service. I’ll be examining on 2 Corinthians 2:21 “God made him who had no sin, to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” He took my sin to the cross and withstood God’s wrath – He became what I am, a sinner so I can become what He is, righteous. Praise be to God.
- Sermon Preparation – What in the world do I mean? I know most of you will not be preparing a sermon. However, I want to encourage you to prepare your heart to receive the sermon and your ears to hear the Word of the Lord. If you don’t know what the next sermon will be, ask your pastor. Most pastors have planned weeks in advance. This is especially important on Easter. At First Southern Baptist Church, we will be looking at John 11. Our hope is to uncover how we must react when God disappoints us. As you read John 11, imagine how Mary and Martha felt when Jesus failed to react as they knew He could have saved their brother Lazarus. When God disappoints, how do we respond? Read the passage. Come ready to listen and learn.
- Easter Morning – before coming to church, spend time in the Gospels. Reflect what it must have been like that first Easter morning. The tomb was empty; Jesus is alive. How would you have felt walking in disappointment to the tomb? You knew he was dead. God’s reality does not always align with your knowledge. And by all means, attend church. Corporately celebrate our risen Lord.
Don’t rush Easter week. Slow down. Immerse yourself in Scripture and the remarkable story of Easter. Invest in the lives of others. Impact someone else with the hope of the Gospel. Don’t let this be just another week in your year. Make it special. Make it holy. Make it meaningful. If you work on these things during Passion Week, you will probably find yourself carrying this out next week too. In no time at all, they will become holy habits of spiritual transformation. You plan and prepare for what is important to you. If Easter is important to you, take time this week to plan and prepare for a very special weekend. Happy Easter. He is Risen.