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Easter's Gladness

FOR many years I was depressed at the Easter season. I found I was thinking predominately of Christ Jesus' crucifixion as Easter's sorrow. I could not seem to get past being horrified at the thought of those living in Jesus' day who agreed to and even encouraged his crucifixion. I was always stunned by Luke's description of the crowds shouting to Pilate, ''Crucify him, crucify him'' (23:21). My shock and grief over this hatred toward a just and pure man kept me focusing on the sadness of the crucifixion, rather than recognizing the glory and joy of the ascension.

Later I realized that I had felt so sad primarily because I had made no connection between this mournful crucifixion and the relevance of Jesus' resurrection to spiritual healing or overcoming death in modern times. I knew Jesus' disciples healed in their own time, but spiritual healing as then practiced had been lost as far as I could tell. Jesus' healings, wonderful as they were, seemed to me miraculous and impossible to repeat. Likewise, immortality seemed relegated to a ''heaven or hell'' after death.

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Christian Science came to my rescue.

I learned that Jesus' teachings are alive. Through the revelation of divine Science that came to Mary Baker Eddy, she was able to heal as Jesus did and to teach others to heal, also. Using the Bible as her guide, she presented Jesus' healing method in a form comprehensible to mankind today. She recorded her discovery in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures and founded the Church of Christ, Scientist, as the Manual of The Mother Church by Mrs. Eddy records, ''To organize a church designed to commemorate the word and works of our Master, which should reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing'' (p. 17).

Gladness began to replace gloom as I saw that Jesus' healings and his resurrection were cut from the same cloth. Both were proofs of God's great goodness to man. Jesus proved by healing that perfection is man's true status as a child of God. He could make that perfection apparent instantly. And he showed through his resurrection that man--who is God's beloved child, spiritual and perfect--never dies.

As I studied Christian Science further, I still had more to do to understand the practicality of Easter's healing message for me, today. I saw that I needed to overcome an inclination to substitute an emotional adulation of Jesus' personality for actually being obedient to what he asked us to do. My awe at the magnitude of his healing works and at his final demonstration of evil's powerlessness, the ascension, was no excuse for not being obedient to his command to follow him! John's Gospel records Jesus' clear promise: ''He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also'' (14:12). And in Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy assures us: ''Though demonstrating his control over sin and disease, the great Teacher by no means relieved others from giving the requisite proofs of their own piety. He worked for their guidance, that they might demonstrate this power as he did and understand its divine Principle. Implicit faith in the Teacher and all the emotional love we can bestow on him, will never alone make us imitators of him. We must go and do likewise, else we are not improving the great blessings which our Master worked and suffered to bestow upon us'' (p. 25).

As I gained a clearer understanding of Jesus' healing method, my emotionalism diminished--but my deep, abiding love of and appreciation for him are still increasing. Because I'm learning to ''go and do likewise,'' I am a better disciple today.

My grief over the crucifixion was healed as I saw that God had not deserted Jesus in his time of need. To complete his work for mankind, Jesus knew that he must go through this ordeal, terrible as it is to contemplate humanly. He was willing to lay down his temporal life for his friends--for us. Understanding God's great love, Jesus stepped out of the rock-walled tomb and uplifted mankind forever with his mighty proof of man's immortality.

I finally saw Easter unmarred by hatred or mourning. The crucifixion was the way to the glorious resurrection--eternal proof of Jesus' spiritual healing and teaching. Easter's practical goodness for mankind is cause for enduring gladness.

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