Last weekend is considered as holy among Christians, irrespective of denomination. Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday are very remarkable to the Christian faith because the events commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ – they are the cornerstones of Christianity. The crucifixion of Jesus as a martyr on the cross over 2000 years ago brought atonement for the sin of humanity. It demonstrated the depth of God Almighty’s commitment to redeem mankind from the quagmire of sin.
Jesus’ resurrection from the dead on Easter Sunday, the first day of the week, symbolised triumph, not only for Jesus who defeated death but to humanity; it brought hope of victory over sin and hope of eternal life in Christ. As Jesus put in it Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as ransom for many.”
This year’s Easter celebration is stunted by the COVID-19 pandemic which has paralysed all activities: social, economic, political and religious.
From the mass deaths from the disease, it is apparent that the virus is a threat to humanity. To frustrate the spread of the coronavirus, the authorities all over the world have put in place measures to achieve social distancing and community isolation. In this spirit, churches from The Holy See to England, from New York to the Netherlands, from Nigeria to South Africa, have halted the congregation of the Christian faithful. Though the measure has denied Christians of the celebration and fanfare associated with Easter, the closure of churches is a necessary sacrifice to defeat the evil of coronavirus; it is imperative for us to stay safe and alive to celebrate the triumph of Christ over death and the devil in many more years to come.
The lessons from Easter are numerous, but they centre around love which propelled Jesus to endure false accusation, humiliation, suffering and eventual death on the Cross. In the Holy Bible, 1 Peter 2:21, Apostle Peter says, “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps.” That is to say, we should be prepared to make sacrifices for others, following the example of Jesus Christ. Therefore, this Easter is a call for us to be selfless, to consider others over and above our personal interests or pleasure, to eschew bitterness against one another, to be forgiving and kind-hearted towards one another. It is a season of reconciliation because, through His death, Jesus gave mankind the opportunity to be reconciled unto God. Apostle John harped on these virtues when he said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life,” John 3:16.
Most importantly, Easter is a reminder that no matter how grievous the challenges we face are, with faith in God, there is hope of a turnaround. For Jesus Christ, Easter weekend was the gloomiest of His life, as He was falsely accused of a crime not recognised in the statute books; He was deserted by even His friends and apostles and made to die a shameful death. But His victory came on Easter Sunday, when, with power and glory, the elements were shaken and He rose from the dead. That He was victorious is a sign that no matter how dark the atmosphere around, there is hope of victory. Jesus promised in John 14: 19 that “because I [Jesus] live, you will live also.”
At a time like this, the leaders of Nigeria should emulate Jesus and make sacrifices that would lead to better social conditions for the people. As a leader, Jesus laid down His life for those who believe in Him. It is, therefore, an example for our leaders; they should be prepared to lay down their lives for the people of Nigeria.