There’s an unlikely connection between Easter and becoming engaged to my wife, Christine, which occurred over 50 years ago!
Since my marriage, humanly speaking, was going to be the greatest triumph of my life, I wanted to become engaged to Christine on the day of greatest triumph of our mutual Christian faith, Easter Sunday. My plan was to drive to a scenic overlook near our home in New York City early on Easter morning where I would pop the question.
However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that getting up early on any day, even Easter, was not Christine’s idea of a good time. She was not a “morning person.” My engagement vision was centered on me, the early riser, not the person I was ready to selflessly pledge myself to for the rest of my life. I scrapped the Easter dawn plans and bowed on one knee in Christine’s living room after we attended Good Friday service. My hope for a joyous invitation was fulfilled. We had the full weekend to celebrate and tell friends prior to returning to our respective colleges on Sunday night.
COVID-19 has brought a unique pale to Easter. Spiritually, it is still a day of triumph as we celebrate Christ’s resurrection. But physically, it’s filled with doubt and even death as we wonder how long the pandemic will last and who among our loved ones and friends might be impacted by the virus.
Zechariah might not be your first stop as you seek resurrection hope. However, there are eleven different forecasts of the Messiah’s return predicted here, more than any prophet but Isaiah. The Messiah’s power to establish peace is described in Chapter 3. Chapter 6 calls him priest and king. Chapter 8 promises (my paraphrase), “I will dwell in Jerusalem, the city of truth, and the mountain of the Lord Almighty.” There’s a reference to the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem in Chapter 9. Finally, Jesus as the coming Judge and righteous King is predicted in Zechariah 14.
When did Zechariah make these announcements? When the Jewish people were failing in their motivation to complete the construction of the temple. This project had been suspended for 15 years due to a lack of motivation, outside opposition and unwillingness to repent on the part of the Jews. The prophecies provided a much-needed inspiration at a time of national discouragement and disillusionment for Israel.
As Easter Sunday comes in just a few days, what is our frame of mind? Perhaps there’s an important project, like the completion of the Jewish temple, that we just haven’t been able to finish. Now COVID-19 has come along and thrown a huge monkey-wrench into that endeavor. Or perhaps, like the Jews of Zechariah’s day, we need to repent of wrong deeds or wrong attitudes. We need to decide we will stop going in the wrong direction and instead put the priorities in place that we know God wants in our lives. We’ll never know this side of heaven the reason the God who heals has allowed this pandemic to infect lives, but it should certainly serve as a wake-up call for all of us who call ourselves Christians to commit to living life God’s way. The world is watching.
It is the fact of Christ’s Easter resurrection that gives us hope. He can inspire us to finish whatever we’ve started, even if we’ve been ignoring it for years. He can grant us forgiveness for lingering sin because of the triumph of his empty tomb. COVID-19 seems like a monster that could destroy everything. But knowing the love of our father and his power over death saves us from that dismal perspective. He is risen! COVID-19 can’t touch the truth and triumph of that fact.
Zechariah 4:6 “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit says the Lord.”
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