By Safiq Ali Patel
“Chocolate at Easter tastes different every year but the message of Easter remains the same. A man named Jesus was born on this earth. He was picked out as special. He was then blamed for every problem on the planet. This man speaks words like patience, kindness, redemption, understanding, forgiving, love, peace and unity”
If you tell your average child what Easter is all about chances are you’ll frighten the living daylights out of children. I used to think that if I spoke of Easter I’d offend people all round. Seeing and hearing of a man on a cross, whose face was kicked with acid and sulphur, his head tortured with holly, burns inflicted on his body and that same body nailed and left hanging from a cross is a disturbing site whatever name you give this man.
As a young boy, growing up in England my teeth would grind my Easter egg open as I nervously ate chocolate eggs and listened to people tell me the story of Easter. Easter was terrifying all- round and a tale that as a young child I just could not get my head round.
"You’ll understand it more as you get older," people told me. My mind boggled each year when the festival of Easter came round and life rolled on. As a teenager, while at School we’d sing the songs about Easter, we'd get round the cross with a model of Christ on it and we’d pray and we children would paint eggs and give each other chocolate or Easter eggs. But still for years the more I thought of Easter each year the more the torture of Christ on the Cross disturbed me. I mean listening to a tale of torture is never pleasant no matter how many times you hear it and no matter what the name of the man who is being tortured on the cross.
As a young man I worked as a petrol pump attendant at an old fashioned American style petrol station in England and spent many an Easter Sunday serving people in suits petrol who were on their way to a church service on Easter Sunday. I was still confused and wondered really and truly what Easter was all about. Christmas I understood well but Easter filled me with ideas of pain, discomfort and horror at the sight of Christ suffering on the cross.
A dear preacher whose name I can not remember kindly touched my hand one Easter Sunday morning and said “Son above all, have no fear, and believe that up in the skies, above the reach and grasp of human beings is the almighty god, who loves you and can do for you things that no-one else can do. He died for you at Easter and when you die as all human beings does he will bring you back to life and give you eternal life that you may live and be content forever. This is just part of the meaning and message of Easter.” As I filled the Preacher man's car with four- star petrol, this preacher delivered this message that allowed to me feel at ease with Easter for the first time ever in my life and I begun to comprehend a little better the meaning of Easter by reflecting on this preacher mans words to me as I stood by the petrol pump tanking up the preacher man's car with petrol.
The Preacher man told me he was born Catholic and had lived most of his life fleeing religious pain, the pain of others put onto him, he explained. And so too was Jesus Christ this preacher man said. If you don’t feel comfortable with it then let it be and one day the story will find a home in your head and heart, I was told.
Now I am not a child any longer but a man who is over the age of 40 I feel that I have understood this message of Easter. Chocolate at Easter tastes different each year but the message of Easter remains the same. A man is picked out as special. He is the blamed for every problem on the planet. This man speaks words like patience, kindness, redemption, understanding, forgiving, love, peace and unity. He speaks of a home called heaven and joy and eternal life. He vows that those who disobey the commandments of God will be punished and those who worship Satan and cause suffering will never see god's love, light or mercy nor shall they have a place in the heavens.
Some people hated this man, whom we call Jesus and his message so much that he is picked out to carry a cross across the land and then he is nailed to that cross and killed. That’s the horrible bit about Easter. This man was nailed to a cross and tortured on Good Friday, the Friday before Easter Saturday and Easter Sunday.
This man or Jesus as the bible identifies him dies on the cross on Good Friday and is left hanging from the cross for the rest of Saturday suffering pain and feeling the cold blow of suffering alone. By Sunday morning Angles and the Lord God, Maker and Master of the Universe, the Father or whatever name you give him sent forward a miracle that brings this dead man Jesus back to life. He is revived and restored. On Sunday morning he is well enough to climb off the cross and search for his friends, his family and his loved ones have a feast to celebrate the power of the father God up in the heavens that bought Jesus back to life. The restoration of Jesus to life after his death on the cross is known as the resurrection of Jesus.
And that I guess is the very essence of the story of Easter. A man or Jesus as Christians name this man who came from the heavens with a message of love and respect all-round was killed on the cross. But his faith in a powerful maker, a Lord of the universe, God the father of all shone into the soul of Jesus, God healed the body of Jesus after he was brutally crucified on the cross, God restored the life of Jesus and it allowed him to go on speaking of love and faith for all despite attempts on his life.
And so reader I wish you a happy Easter and hope that as you journey through life, in times of hardship and difficulties when everything seems impossible you’ll spare a thought for this man, whatever your religion. I hope too that along your way through life you’ll experience miracles that only God whose spirit is of love, acceptance and mercy can deliver in times of need.
I hope too that from reading this article you have come to see that even after death, god, the father of all life and the maker of the earth and all that lays and lives on the earth with his love is powerful enough to bring the dead back to life. And in this story lays the true meaning of Easter. That god loves everyone and he gave himself on the cross on Good Friday as his son Jesus and after a bloody and tortured death was inflicted on him he came to life and continued to preach, teach and live by the values of love, life and family. The story of Easter tells that in the name of God the father and Jesus nothing is impossible.
Some people call this man Jesus. Whatever the name you give this man and even if you can only bring yourself to see him as just another man, I hope that as you journey through life you experience the power and the beauty of Easter Sunday in your life every day. When it seems impossible and that no-one can help, God, the lord, our father can do the impossible. I pray you discover and benefit from this power each day of your lives. And that you come to know that this power and all its blessings are with you and for you each day of your life.
And one last point. When death stares you in the face, or when someone you love dies. Remember their life is not over and done with. As god restored his son Jesus to life on Easter Sunday, god has the power to restore your loved ones to life one day too. All who die, and death comes to all, God our father and Jesus Christ the son of all man, gives us promise, hope and faith that even after our death what doctors can not do the Lord will. He will bring us back to life to live and share in his everlasting kingdom. This the sweet promise of Easter, sweeter than Chocolate. And I hope this sweet promise comes alive for you every day of every year. Happy Easter to you reader when Easter comes.
By Safiq Ali Patel