By Rachel Poel
When I was growing up in a small Baptist church in southern Oklahoma, Easter was a fancy occasion. We wore stiff new clothes and shiny shoes. We smiled for pictures, sang loudly in church, and sat nicely for brunch with the relatives.
But sometimes these festivities can feel hollow. I think I was in middle school when I first felt like I wasn’t ready for Easter. It may have been Holy Week, but I felt anything but holy, and I knew that I didn’t belong in that spotless new outfit.
Maybe you’re in a similar place this year. Maybe you’ve been struggling and feel reluctant to approach God right now. Or maybe you’re feeling distracted and busy, and you’re just not seeking God like you used to.
When we realize how the sin and indifference that we struggle with contrasts with the glory of our celebration of Easter, we can feel like hiding. But when we look at how God describes what he’s done for us, we see that this contrast between our unworthiness and God’s glory shows us how wonderful our Savior is.
The tradition of dressing up for Easter reminds me of how the Bible repeatedly uses clothes as a symbol for our spiritual state. On our own, our thoughts and actions really are filthy. Yet we don’t need to pretend to be righteous—God has dressed us in his righteousness. As we put on our Easter best this weekend, let’s remember the glorious truth we see in this imagery:
1) We Have Been Clothed in Christ’s Righteousness
“For those of you who were baptized into Christ have been clothed with Christ.” Galatians 3:27
God is not surprised by our unworthiness. Instead, he has created a solution. When we feel too filthy to come to God, we need to remind ourselves how he first came to us. He has taken away our filth and clothed us in his righteousness, and we can approach him boldly now as his precious children.
2) We Are Called to New Life
“But that is not how you came to know Christ, assuming you heard about him and were taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus, to take off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires, to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.” Ephesians 4:20-24
Even though we have been forgiven before God, we still feel restless when confronted with our sin—and that’s a good thing. Just like it would feel wrong to wear clean clothes when we’re still grimy and sweaty, it should feel deeply wrong to continue in sin when God has saved us. We are called to “put on” Christ’s righteousness in how we think, speak, and act.
But we aren’t left on our own to drag ourselves into righteousness. Look at how this passage describes the work God has called us to do. We are instructed to put off our sin and put on not our own righteousness but Christ’s righteousness.
Yes, we are called to action here. This Easter, let’s run to Christ. We pursue righteousness in and through him. We are being renewed in knowledge according to his image, not according to our image.
3) We Will Be Crowned Eternally
“Indeed, we groan in this tent, desiring to put on our heavenly dwelling, since, when we have taken it off, we will not be found naked. Indeed, we groan while we are in this tent, burdened as we are, because we do not want to be unclothed but clothed, so that mortality may be swallowed up by life.” 2 Corinthians 5:2-4
In this world, we do have trouble. We see starving children, racial discrimination, a global refugee crisis, broken families, cancer, death, sin. Those are awful realities in this broken world.
But in Easter, we see Jesus’s unmistakable victory over that suffering. God isn’t indifferent to the pain in this world—he is the certain victor over it. That is what we see at the empty tomb. Christ has risen, and we will likewise be raised to where there are no more tears and no more sorrow. We will be freed once and for all from the remnants and consequences of our sin, and we will be robed in his perfect life.
Easter isn’t just a day for people who are already happy or already good.
The power of this week isn’t that we got ourselves to God with the perfect Easter service or the most heart-wrenching Lent devotional. It’s that God came to us and rescued us.
The glory of this week isn’t that we cleaned ourselves up to wear our Easter best. It’s that God saw our filthy sin and clothed us with Christ.
The beauty of this week is not that we can celebrate enough or feel enough repentance or sing loudly enough. It’s that our God is enough, and we are his forever.