Initial hopes of being rid of the coronavirus by Easter have dissipated. Is there some other hope, however, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic that the Easter season offers?
On December 10, 2019, Wei Guixian, a 57-year-old shrimp peddler, starts feeling ill. She is admitted to the Wuhan Central Hospital with an infection in both her lungs. She is found to be resistant to anti-flu drugs and other medications. It is later learned that she worked at a wildlife market that has now been connected to an outbreak; an outbreak of the coronavirus: a virus linked to the common cold and other such deadly viruses as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome). This coronavirus, however, seems to be new; unlike anything scientists have seen before. She is later identified as a potential “patient zero;” the first person to have contracted this novel/new coronavirus, The Corona Virus Disease of 2019 (COVID -19). It was now spreading quickly. Through this one woman, this one remote location, covid-19 has spread to infect every inhabited continent.
There are some unsettling characteristics of this virus:
It can be transmitted across species. Some scientists believe that it was likely first transmitted to humans through infected animals (bats being the most likely suspects). Animals can also contract it from humans. There have been recent cases where a tiger in a New York zoo and even some domestic dogs have contracted the virus.
It is highly contagious. Current information suggests that this virus is spreading more efficiently than influenza. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person to person between people who are in close contact with one another. It can even be spread, it is believed, when a person talks and even by individuals who are not showing symptoms. As such, social distancing is being recommended.
It is deadly. Its effects are more pronounced in the most vulnerable of our population. The mortality rate currently stands at around 5.5%. That figure however, jumps up to above 20% for individuals over 80 years old and individuals who have underlying medical conditions.
This virus has caused us to reevaluate our lives. Social relationships and interactions have been affected, people have been forced to self-isolate or quarantine from friends and loved ones, people have not been able to be at the bedsides of ailing loved ones. Every facet of life has been affected. This virus has also proven that no one is immune. The rich, the poor, the old, the young, male, female are all susceptible to its deleterious effects. If nothing else, this virus has shown us that we are all connected, that the actions of one person can have serious effects upon others; even the entire planet. It should also make us prioritize and reassess what we deem to be important. We have realized that the real heroes aren’t the ones we often tend to idolize: the movie stars, sports personalities, the rich and famous. We now realize that real superheroes don’t wear capes; they wear scrubs and ordinary clothes. They sacrificially give of their time, putting themselves in harm’s way to preserve life. It should teach us never to take a hug or a kiss for granted. Never to take life for granted.
We were hoping to be done with this virus by now. Easter was being looked forward to with great anticipation. Initially, hopes were harbored that our churches would be full during this Easter weekend. There was hope that our schools would have been reopened the week following the Easter break. We now know that will not be the case. The sad reality is that this virus shows no real signs of abating. However, there is hope in looking forward to Easter for entirely different reasons. A true understanding of this story and season could save our lives.
During this time, thousands of years ago, a group of people were miraculously delivered from plagues and pestilences that was affecting everyone else around them. The last of these plagues saw deaths in every household except for those that had taken a precaution that we should all be careful to take. Yes, they had quarantined themselves, but they had also followed what must have seemed like a strange directive and had applied blood to their doorposts; more specifically, the blood of a lamb. The directive was even more specific: a male lamb, without defects and none of its bones were to be broken. While this plague was passing through, it passed over the homes, who had the blood of a lamb that was slain applied to their wooden doorposts.
Easter is one of the few holidays, or as the Catholic Church would deem them, “holy days,” that actually correlates with a biblical celebration; that of Passover (Pesach for our Jewish friends). If we look beyond the nonsensical trappings of the Easter Bunny and Easter eggs, we see a beautiful story, one that would provide the only true solution to the events we are currently experiencing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The apostle Paul states that Christ is our Passover (1 Cor. 5:7). That means that the events surrounding the celebration of the biblical Passover actually prefigured the life of Christ. Jesus, the Messiah, died during this very season almost two thousand years ago. The bible describes Jesus as being, “the lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world” John 1:29. His blood was also applied to some wooden posts which succeeded in staying God’s wrath. The particulars of that lamb: male, without blemish, unbroken bones, also align perfectly with the person and nature of Jesus (compare Exodus 12:46 and John 19:32-36). By applying his blood to our homes, by appropriating his death and life as our own we too can be protected from “the pestilence that walks in darkness” (Ps. 91:6).
A true understanding of the Easter story exposes us to a virus that is even more deadly than COVID-19. Like the coronavirus, this virus entered the world through one person. From that person this virus has spread to infect every individual on the planet! As a result of this horrible virus the entire planet has had to be quarantined; socially distanced from fellowship with those who love us most. It claims 100% of its victims. In fact, it is the reason that viruses and death exist. Sin is a more deadly virus than the corona virus could ever be. Oh, would we but take the same extraordinary measures to avoid this virus. Oh, would we also re-evaluate our lives in the face of this existential threat, re-assess our relationships as to whether they would cause us to be even more infected. Would we but chose to self-isolate, quarantine, avoiding the very appearance of evil (1 Thess. 5:22). Oh, would we be as diligent to rid ourselves of this intruder; search as diligently for the cure.
The message of the Passover is one of hope; hope for whatever situation we are facing. It boldly and unapologetically declares “live, I have found a ransom” (Job 33:24). Why will you die in your sins? (John 8:34). Jesus has triumphed! He has triumphed over sin, death and the grave (1 Cor. 15:57). He has within his blood the antibodies to remedy the deadliest of all viruses, having himself triumphed over sin. His blood is still effective even today. The message of this season is that, if we walk in the light of what Christ has accomplished on our behalf, we will have fellowship, even in this socially distanced world, and cleansing and healing. “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). O blessed hope! O beautiful promise.
This season, instead of being caught up in the usual trappings, let’s take this time to truly acquaint ourselves with the One whose blood can save us. Let us, through faith, apply His spilled blood to the doorposts of our hearts and our homes as we ask for His protection, not just so our temporal lives can be spared for a moment, but rather, for our eternal lives and that our lives will be hid in Him (Col. 3:3). Let us take this time to sure up our foundation, connect with family, pray together. God has granted this opportunity for us to do so. That very Lamb that was slain almost two thousand years ago will return as a conquering Lion. Only those who have availed themselves of His blood will be saved. As His second coming approaches, it will only get worse. He describes famines, pestilences, and earthquakes that we are seeing and have been experiencing as “the beginning of sorrows” (Matt. 24:10). The next phase (see Matt. 24:9-12) calls for a faith that will endure (Matt. 24:13). I pray that we take advantage of this time to ensure that we have such a faith.
Want to understand more about God's love? Check out this wonderful sermon series here.
Want to know what's coming next? Check out this wonderful sermon series here.