Easter: The Ultimate in Delayed Gratification
On Sunday, Colson and I were driving home from church about 1:30 in the afternoon. That’s about the time we normally drive home on Sundays. The girls had decided to stay with Renae at church for worship practice. Driving home I mentioned to Colson how hungry I was and that I could really go for a Big Carl. A Big Carl, in case you weren’t aware, is a Carl’s Jr. hamburger that has two charbroiled beef patties with two slices of American cheese, iceberg lettuce, and classic sauce on a toasted sesame seed bun. Sounds good, doesn’t it? In fact, I recently learned Carl’s now has an even bigger burger appropriately called the Really Big Carl that has three patties and three slices of cheese. That’s crazy! Well like a good parent (cough, cough), I decided to turn this into a teaching moment and said in a serious voice, even though I really want one of those big juicy burgers, let’s resist the urge and go home and eat the pasta salad Mom made. With that, we quickly drove past the large Carl’s Jr. billboard next to the freeway and went home to eat our salad. Pretty good, huh?
Now I never really considered stopping at Carl’s Jr. In fact, I’ve never even eaten a Big Carl before. But I have to admit, the idea of immediately satisfying my hunger was pretty tempting. Though I’m not a great example of this, I know that delayed gratification is an important lesson for us and our children to learn in order to form discipline and be responsible. For my kids, an example of this includes not watching the iPad or playing with friends until they’ve completed their schoolwork. As adults, it may mean not buying something or foregoing a vacation until we’ve actually saved enough to pay for it. Suffice it to say, it doesn’t always work out that way. But these are examples of patience and self-control, qualities of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5) we want to develop as Christians.
I also see delayed gratification as being a big part of the Easter story (of course in a much more important way than not eating a Big Carl). After Jesus was arrested and crucified, His disciples and followers were distraught and didn’t know what to do. He was their Lord and King. When He was alive, they thought that maybe He would assume His throne and bring the kingdom of God in all its fullness immediately to earth. In Mark 8:31, it says that “Jesus then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.” Though this was the truth of what was to happen, in the next verse it says that “Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him.” Peter (incorrectly) never thought that Jesus’ death would be part of God’s plan. So after He was crucified, the disciples were devastated. But three days later, He rose again just as He had said.
Can you imagine the joy the disciples felt when He appeared to them in bodily form after the resurrection? After appearing to them in Luke 24:45-47, it says “Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, ‘This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.'” By His life, death, and resurrection as the Son of Man, He brought the kingdom of God into the world to love, to bless, and to save us. But we still live with a sense of delayed gratification. Don’t we? God is currently at work in us and in the world but His kingdom is not yet fully manifest. That’s why we still see the sin and sorrows of life. Beloved, we have so much to look forward to when Christ returns and establishes His kingdom in all its glory! But until then, let’s be patient and faithful; and let’s remember that it all started with His death on the cross and His resurrection from the grave.
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!! Happy Easter!