Easter is one of my all-time favorite holidays, right up there with Christmas. It's one of my two favorite non-Christmas holidays (the other being Thanksgiving). I love how much peace and joy are associated with Easter. The Resurrection was a great and wonderful miracle. Another reason I love it is because it's right at the beginning of spring, which feels even more beautiful and joyful. At least where I've been, there is often really great weather on Easter. Sometimes it's chilly, but it's usually springy warm and pretty. I've always associated that with the miracle of the resurrection. It's a happy day in the history of the world. :)
This Easter I had the opportunity to participate in a production of Lamb of God, by Rob Gardner. It was an amazing experience to think so closely about an event I love. There were a couple parts that stood out to me, in particular, as we were rehearsing and performing. First, there's a song Peter sings after realizing he denied knowing Christ three times. He sings, "Thou hast taken stripes for me; can I not take but one for Thee?" I've thought a lot about that line. Christ took my stripes for me. That is an amazing miracle. I can't even understood how amazing it is. It encourages me to be more dedicated to Him in my everyday life to show how thankful I am.
Another part that stood out to me is a solo by Mary, the mother of Jesus. While he's being scourged and judged and taken to Calvary, she sings, "Is this not enough? O Lord, my God, show mercy on my Son! Has not Thy will in this been done? Has not the bitter cup been emptied? When is it enough? O Lord, when is it enough? My breaking heart, though pierced and torn within, I'll keep my vigil here with Him. Behold, The handmaid of the Lord. Be it unto me until it is enough."
Mary's feelings during the Crucifixion never seemed so real to me before seeing someone act out that agony, and I've never considered her reaction to the events preceding the Crucifixion. I'm sure she knew what had to happen, but Jesus did, too, and still prayed, "Take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt" (Mark 14:36). I imagine it was excruciating for her, knowing what had to happen and watching, but maybe not understanding the extent and hoping to spare her son any pain possible.
But then she still says, "I'll keep my vigil here with Him." Can you imagine watching someone you love be crucified? Mary could have chosen not to watch. Many people, including Jesus, would probably have understood if she'd said, "It's too hard to see my son suffer like that." But can you also imagine the comfort Jesus must have felt, having her there during His last moments?
And finally she sings, "Behold, The handmaid of the Lord." I've only ever associated that phrase with the Christmas story, when Mary learns she will be the mother of Jesus. I realized this week that, when she said that phrase originally (Luke 1:38), she was agreeing to a lot more than just birthing the Savior. She was agreeing to deal with the social struggles that would come with being pregnant with Him; to birth Him in the most humble of circumstances, raise Him, teach Him who He was, and believe Him; to see Him be mocked and disrespected in His adult life; and to finally see Him crucified. From Christ's birth to His death, Mary's got to be one of the best examples of "Nevertheless, not what I will, but what thou wilt" in the world.
When we talk about the Atonement and Crucifixion, we usually focus on Christ's sacrifice and on Heavenly Father's sacrifice in being willing to watch His Son suffer and die for us without stepping in. It was a revelatory experience for me this week to also realize Mary's sacrifice. I wonder how she learned about His resurrection. I like to imagine her finding out in a special way. After all, she was involved in His story in a way that no one else was.
My other favorite part of the program was the song when Mary Magdalene sees the resurrected Lord and sings glory to Him. The Resurrection is tied with Christ's birth for the most glorious event in the history of the world. I can't imagine the beauty and Spirit and glory she must have felt when she realized Who she was speaking to. I wish I could find a full version of the song depicting that scene in the Lamb of God program, but here's a clip (click on the song "Gloria (My Savior Lives)"). That song brings a beautiful spirit.
I know Christ lived, atoned for my sins, died, and was resurrected. I know He did all of that because He loves us. He lives again and I'm thankful He does because I receive so much help and comfort from Him. I'm thankful for the Resurrection and the beauty and glory I feel when I think about it. I love and am thankful for Easter and the special reminder it is of Christ's life and resurrection.
**Note: I know that what was sung in the program is an artist's interpretation of what happened. :)
"And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said." (Matthew 28:5-6)