EASTER bespeaks eloquently of sadness before joy, pain before gain and the treasures that are often cleverly hidden under human sufferings and tribulations. The truth is that even joy itself would lose its value or flavour if there is no struggle leading up to it.
Christians are taught that following the fall of man (Adam and Eve) in the Garden of Eden and the gulf that sin brought between mankind and the Creator, God decided to reaffirm His undying love for man through an expensive kind of reconciliation: He sent our Lord Jesus Christ to the world through the virgin womb of Mary to be born in a manger.
Jesus’ assignment was to teach the mysteries of the kingdom of God, lay down His life to bring salvation to believers and leave behind a crop of disciples to preach the Good News of salvation to all races throughout the world.
That assignment, which ended over two thousand years ago gave rise to the most powerful and influential religion in the world today: Christianity.
Easter is the culmination of a series of events starting with Christ’s 40-day fasting (Lent) and the week of Passion (triumphal entry into Jerusalem, conviction for alleged heresy, crucifixion and death).
On the third Day (Easter Sunday) He resurrected as long foretold in many prophecies and eventually ascended into heaven. Many still find it hard to believe that God loves them so much that He was willing to allow His only begotten Son to lay down His life for the remission of sins and total reconciliation with man.
From the sombre mood of today (Good Friday), Easter will unfold on Sunday to joyful chants and jubilations among Christians all over the world.
But Easter has also come to be seen beyond the core sacramental observances of the Christian faith. People of other faiths have become involved in its residual effects.
In Nigeria (as in many parts of the world) Easter is one of the major religious celebrations honoured with a four-day public holiday.
This gives people of all faiths the opportunity to travel to meet friends, families and loved ones. Those who will not travel will seize the opportunity to rest and unwind in a variety of ways.
This is a call for all to celebrate responsibly. Those driving must stay away from intoxicants, obey traffic rules and arrive alive. We must all remain vigilant, security conscious and charitable towards our neighbours.
In every festival there is a lesson. That of Easter is sacrifice, reconciliation and renewal. Having just survived another bruising general election, Nigerians must commit to reconciliation across partisan, religious and ethnic divides. This is needed to move the country forward.
We wish all Nigerians Happy Easter!