The Easter Message in Modern Historical Perspective
Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. (45) Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth." (46)Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." (John 1:44-46, NRSV)
The chirping birds, flowers beginning to bloom, and the moderately shifting warmer weather resemble everything that is beautiful about life in spring-time. Aside from the occasional spring rain showers or the dusting of pollen across the broad landscape, the decorative colors of Cherry blossoms and refreshing smells of Jasmine and Azalea blossoms signal all that we may imagine of the outdoor pleasantries of picnic-type gatherings. Wedding chapel bells fill the air with joyous rings of glee and excitement in spring-time. Spring signals the end of the brutal wintery weather and frost chilled days and nights. The occasional kite flying in a stirring wind or the picturesque image of father and son tossing a baseball in the park all but capture the modest pleasures which mark the shifting seasonal tide. Yet, historically, April has signaled more than just these ideal feelings and images. Beneath the surface, the fourth month in our calendar year has documented some of the most tragic and noteworthy events in human history.
It was in April 1776 that the American Revolution began. On April 12th, 1861, the Civil War began. The month of April (the 14th of 1865) also witnessed the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. On April 20th, 1889, Aldolf Hitler was born. April 18th, 1906 is when the great San Francisco earthquake took place. The Armenian Genocide occurred in April 1914. April 17th, 1961 is when the failed Bay of Pigs invasion took place in Cuba which, essentially, pitted the Soviet Union and the U.S. on a collision course toward an almost near nuclear war standoff. The month of April (the 4th, 1968) is when Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated at the Loraine Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee. The Chernobyl nuclear disaster occurred on April 26th 1986. The Rodney King verdict which resulted in the Los Angeles riots was delivered on April 29th, 1992. The Bosnian War also occurred in April of this same year. The siege of the Branch Davidian compound took place in Waco, Texas on April 13th, 1993. The Rwandan genocide began April 6th 1994. The unforgettable Oklahoma City bombing also happened in April (on the 19th, 1995). The tragic Columbine High School shooting gripped the nation on April 20th, 1999. The Virginia Tech shootings again paralyzed the nation on April 16th, 2007. The Boston Marathon bombings stunned the nation on April 15th, 2013. The recent Fort Hood shooting took place this April 2nd, as did the recent Pennsylvania High School stabbings on April 9th.
The dread and doom that has taken place in the month of April leaves one with a sense of hopelessness and fear, dread and gloom. The passage where one of the newly identified disciples asks the seeming rhetorical question about Jesus and his place of ministry, "can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" (John 1:46) comes to mind. Can any good thing come out of April? Well, besides personally celebrating my wedding anniversary or my brother celebrating his birth, April is typically the month we also celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Known as Easter, or the Passover, as Christians, this is the time when we celebrate the victory that Jesus gained over death, Hell and the grave, thus making possible that we (humanity) could be redeemed from our sinful nature and be restored back into a right relation with God our creator. In this, spring symbolizes new life, transition via conversion. The death and resurrection of Jesus makes it possible for humanity's salvation. As it is offered to us through the work of Jesus Christ, it is up to us to embrace and receive it; a type of spring cleansing of one's life.