The following appeared in the Tamworth Herald on 30 March 2018.
Christians started making Easter eggs soon after the first Easter – but they were real eggs, hollowed-out and decorated.
These days of course Easter eggs are made of chocolate, and quite a lot larger – although quite why we decided they should be delivered by an Easter Bunny instead of an Easter Chicken, I don’t know.
Perhaps it has something to do with life. Rabbits are well-known for breeding like, well, rabbits. And after an egg comes a chicken (or is it the other way round?).
Easter, then, is full of signs of life, whether it is rabbits, eggs, snowdrops or daffodils.
And that is no accident.
In his account of Jesus’ life, Mark records the time Jesus asked his followers, ‘Who do people say I am?’ (Mark 8:27, NIV).
This wasn’t Jesus behaving like a Z-list celebrity demanding, ‘Do you know who I am?’ He had been teaching the crowds and healing the sick for some time now – he wanted to know if anyone understood who he was, and why he was doing all these things.
His followers replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets’ (Mark 8:28, NIV).
In other words, people hadn’t a clue. They thought he was special – either a dead man come back to life (John the Baptist or Elijah), or a messenger from God (one of the prophets).
So Jesus asked his followers, ‘But what about you? Who do you say I am?’ One of them – Peter – piped up, ‘You are the Messiah’ (Mark 8:29, NIV).
At the time many Jews were looking for a ‘Messiah’, someone chosen and anointed by God – probably descended from King David (the one who killed Goliath) – who would rescue them from the Roman occupation.
I believe Peter was right – that Jesus was (and is) ‘the Messiah’. But he hadn’t come to defeat the Romans like his ancestor David defeated Goliath.
No: Jesus had come to be rejected and killed.
Quite understandably Peter didn’t get that – it seems strange even today: that God’s anointed Saviour, his only Son, would die. Surely that means he failed? If so, why do Christians celebrate the weekend Jesus ‘failed’?
And what on earth does any of this have to do with chocolate eggs being delivered by a mythical bunny?
Christians celebrate Easter because, after Jesus died and was buried in a tomb, he rose to life on Easter Sunday. So, when his followers visited his tomb, it was empty… or hollow, like an Easter egg.
Easter, then, is about new life; the new life Jesus won, and the new life he offers to us, today. (If you want to find out more, why not visit one of the churches in Tamworth on Easter Sunday?)
Easter eggs may be ordinary (and delicious), but they speak of the best news you’ll ever hear: Jesus Christ is not dead, he is risen!