Christians celebrate the holy festival of Easter, remembering with deep gratitude the sacrifice made by Jesus Christ when He gave His life on the cross and celebrating His resurrection three days later. For Christians, this is the most sacred time of the year and many prepare for Easter with forty days of prayer and fasting.
Sri Sathya Sai Baba talks about Easter:
Jesus was crucified on a Friday and He rose from the tomb on a Sunday. That is why Sunday is taken as a day of worship and service in churches.
Sri Sathya Sai Baba, 25 December 1992
Throughout His many discourses, Sri Sathya Sai Baba hailed the supreme example of love and sacrifice evidenced through the life and teachings of Jesus and urged all to take inspiration from His true nature, which is divinity.
The Romans addressed Jesus as ‘persona’ meaning one of sacredness. The English word person has been derived from this. It means that there is divinity in everyone. That is why I address you as embodiments of divinity. I and you are one. There is divine spirit in everybody. The very self is called “persona.” There is no life principle without divinity. With hands, feet, eyes, heads, mouth and ears pervading everything, He permeates the entire universe (Sarvatah Panipadam Tat Sarvathokshi Siromukham, Sarvata Sruthimalloke Sarvamavruthya Thisthati) Divinity pervades all forms. The Bible and the Quran contain many sacred teachings. But foolish people who do not understand their teachings are taking to wrong ways.
Sri Sathya Sai Baba, 25 December 2001
The Last Supper of Jesus with His disciples
Sri Sathya Sai Baba, in His discourses, has beautifully recounted the story of Jesus and the true significance of Easter. The story begins on the night before He was arrested and crucified. Jesus had a last supper with His disciples. He shared bread and wine with them, telling them that the bread represented His body and the wine His blood, which would be 'poured out for many, for the forgiveness of sins' (Matthew 26:28).
Sri Sathya Sai Baba reveals to us the true significance of the bread and wine offered at the last supper: Jesus said that the bread taken in the 'last supper' was his flesh, and the wine His blood. He meant that all beings alive with flesh and blood are to be treated as He Himself and that no distinction should be made between friend or foe, we or they. Everybody is His Body, sustained by the bread; every drop of blood flowing in the veins of every living being is His, animated by the activity that the wine imparted to it. That is to say, every man is divine and has to be revered as such.
Sri Sathya Sai Speaks, Vol. 14 Ch. 16
Jesus taught His disciples the principle of divine love. After the last supper, Jesus washed the feet of His disciples—including Judas, who betrayed Him. After washing their feet, Jesus explained why He had done this:
Do you understand what I have done for you?” He asked them. “You call Me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.
John 13 :12-15
Jesus showed His disciples how to love each other and the entire world:
Jesus washed the feet of His disciples. When they asked Him why He was doing so, Jesus answered: “I am washing your feet as your servant, so that you may learn to serve the world."
Sri Sathya Sai Speaks, Vol 17 Ch. 30
Sri Sathya Sai Baba has also explained the events leading to the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus. Baba's words highlight the selfless love, sacrifice, forbearance and forgiveness that Jesus demonstrated:
Jesus knew that God Wills all. So, even on the cross, when He suffered agony, He bore no ill-will towards any one and He exhorted those with Him to treat all as instruments of His Will. "All are one; be alike to everyone." Practise this attitude in your daily lives.
Sri Sathya Sai Speaks, Vol 14 Ch. 60
The Roman rulers were told that Jesus was attempting to assert Himself as King and so could be punished for treason. Their insistence made the Governor order His crucifixion. When the nails were being driven into Him to fix Him on the Cross, Jesus heard the Voice of the Father saying, "All life is one, My dear Son. Be alike to everyone," and He pleaded that those who were crucifying Him may be pardoned for they knew not what they did. Jesus sacrificed Himself for the sake of mankind.
Sri Sathya Sai Speaks, Vol. 14 Ch. 16
Jesus sacrificed His life and poured out His blood to instil love and compassion in the heart of man, so that man may be happy when others are happy and sad when others are sad.
Sri Sathya Sai Speaks, Vol 13 Ch. 27
Like Jesus, Baba taught not just through words but through a lifetime of loving service to all beings. Both Jesus and Sri Sathya Sai Baba have taught repeatedly and in many different ways that life is to be treasured and lived for the purpose of realising our divinity, constantly aware of the precious goal of life. Both taught that the road of the spiritual pilgrim is narrow and difficult. It is a great challenge to live as Jesus did, practising forgiveness and giving love, yet with dedication to the righteous path and love we follow Him implicitly to reach the Goal which is God Himself.
Practising the Message of Easter Today
Sri Sathya Sai Baba has therefore shown us that the true significance of Easter is the love, selflessness, and sacrifice of Jesus. Even when He was dying, Jesus' only thought was for the welfare of others, even those who had harmed Him.
The sacrifice of Jesus is a reminder of the selfless love and sacrifice being made right now by those who are caring for the sick and by their families who are supporting them in this. Easter is a time to express gratitude to those who are giving this service and enduring long and exhausting hours to care for others and to relieve suffering. May we all be uplifted by Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s assurance that God is with us, in us, giving us courage and strength.