In Marquette, Michigan, which had record snowfall in 1997 of almost three hundred inches, Easter was indeed white last year, as snow lay on the ground that day. But whether you live in Marquette, Michigan, Phoenix Arizona, or Winter Haven, Florida, Easter will always be white for believers in Christ Jesus.
The Color Of Mourning
For those living in the North, white usually means the dead of winter — dead flowers, dead trees, and dead car batteries, as the weather turns cold and snow blankets the countryside. By April one’s thoughts turn to spring, green grass, and birds chirping, as life returns to the landscape. And so it is fitting that Christ Jesus rose from the dead in the springtime, having paid the price for sin on the cross as He “died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3f).
Not surprisingly, winter notwithstanding, black is traditionally the color of death and mourning. Scripture speaks of those in their sins as walking in darkness, blind and dead. As we observe the Lord Jesus suffering and dying to pay for our sins on Good Friday, the cloths are black on the altar. Then a few days later Easter comes. Christ is arisen!
So the purple altar cloths of Lent, the black of Good Friday and sorrow over sin give way to white Easter lilies and white altar cloths, for white is the color of Easter, a color of rejoicing for the Christian. What a contrast against the black backdrop of the Passion Season! Unlike winter, where white means death to all manner of things, the white of Easter means life, both spiritual and eternal.
That’s what keeps the believer going during the long Lenten season. As we sorrow over our sin and focus on the suffering of the Savior, we are continually looking ahead, dreaming of a white Easter, dreaming of the sweet message of the resurrection of the dead, of sin and Satan conquered and death overcome. Certainly our pastors proclaim this message to us also in the Lenten season, but the Gospel which is always refreshing seems more so on Easter morn.
…As White As Snow
And if snow happens to blanket the ground that day, all the more fitting. For what happened on Easter? Christ who humbled Himself and did not despise the shame of the cross, was exalted, victorious over sin, death, and the devil. When Christ was exalted at His transfiguration, Mark describes His apparel as “shining, exceedingly white, like snow” (Mk. 9:3). In John’s revelation of the triumphant Christ, the apostle beholds “One like the Son of Man . . . His head and His hair were white like wool, as white as snow” (Rev. 1:14).
Why was Christ exalted? Again, Scripture directs our attention to the snow. As it is written: “(Christ) was delivered up for our offenses and was raised again for our justification” (Rom. 4:25). He was exalted because His payment for sin was accepted by God the Father. When Christ died and rose again the world was declared “not guilty” of sin, and the promise of the LORD God was fulfilled: “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Is. 1:18). Like a blanket of snow Christ covers our sins, for it is written: “You have forgiven the iniquity of Your people, You have covered all their sin” (Ps. 85:2), so that we are counted among those of whom the psalmist writes: “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered” (Ps. 32:1).
With sin taken away no more could the black of death and the grave terrorize man, for Christ’s bodily resurrection from the dead means the bodily resurrection unto life everlasting for all who trust in Him for salvation, as the Savior promises: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die” (Jn. 11:25).
So in the risen, living Christ forgiven sinners ask with the holy writer: “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. Butthanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:55ff).
Whether or not snow falls on Easter morning where you live, here’s wishing you a white Easter — white, because Christ rose from the dead; white, because you have been raised from spiritual death with Christ in Baptism; white, because all of your sins have been covered and you have been washed clean in the blood of Him who was dead and is now alive; white, because His life means your life and resurrection.
— Pastor Joel Fleischer