Making Easter Meaningful
I love most holidays, but Easter will be forever my favorite. The promise of spring, the lilies, the rabbits and eggs, and not to mention the honey ham and watching “Charlie Brown and the Easter Beagle” (a classic – definitely a must-see!)
Yes, all these make Easter special, but while Christmas seems to overshadow this holiday in terms of extravagance, I believe Easter is far more important in terms of religious meaning.
While Christmas celebrates the birth of our Savior, Easter is the celebration of the true reason Jesus came.
I get goosebumps when I consider all Easter is about. For four thousand years after Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, all their descendants knew God knew of His promise to Adam, to send a Savior, God in the flesh, sent to be our intercessor between God Himself and sinners. Easter is the fulfillment of this promise.
Isaiah 53:12b reads “For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”
The story begins way back in Genesis 3, where we see the first sin and the fall of humanity, where Adam broke his promise with God and disobeyed, sending the world into sin and darkness. Sin now separated man from God. God is holy beyond comprehension, and nothing wicked or vile can stand in His presence. But even in our sinful flesh, God did not abandon us.
In Genesis 3:15, we see the very first promise of Christ where God tells Adam and Eve that while they will now struggle with sin and live in a broken world, God Himself as Jesus Christ will be born of their lineage and “crush the head” of Satan.
We can read the Old Testament and see the cost of sin in the early years of the world, from the murder of Abel at the hands of his brother Cain (Genesis 4), to the rise of half-breed humans that lead to Noah’s ark (Genesis 6-7), and the endless cycle of Abraham’s descendants, the children of Israel, who fail, then return to God, then fail and return to God again and ultimately wind up in captivity to evil nations because of their rejection of Him.
Through all the messes we make, every broken promise on our end, God never fails.
The prophet Isaiah in the Old Testament laments the failings of Israel, God’s chosen people. They should have honestly known better than to constantly turn away from God and then only return to Him when things get tough. Even here, as inconsistent as humanity is, God promises the Savior. He doesn’t leave us in our mess, but promises to rescue us, proving His overabundant, never-ending love for us.
I highly recommend reading Psalm 103 where King David pens his own song of joy for God and all He does for His people. Psalm 103:3-4 describes Him as the Savior Who “forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion.”
God does not abandon His people. Through all our mistakes and failures and rejection of Him, He would still send His Son to take away our sins, to intercede (make amends) for our sin.
In Luke 2, we can read the account of the birth of Christ. Can you imagine, after four thousand years of promises and trials and being led into captivity, everything the world had ever heard of or read of in the Old Testament, fulfilled at last in the face of one sweet baby?
This would change the course of history forever. Instead of sacrifices to cover sin, Jesus was sent to become the ultimate sacrifice. He was literally born to die – that was His purpose. Yes, His miracles and teachings are crucial and vital, then and now, but His goal was to die.
For you, for me, for everyone in this crazy, broken, torn apart world. I mean, look at us! There is no way we can save ourselves, no matter how “good” we think we are. We all lie, cheat, we are all self-enamored and talk trash about others. We all mess up because we are just people. And God knows that.
He knows we struggle and fail and push Him away. He was born a human, too, after all, although He never sinned.
How does this work – by the hand of One we are saved? Well, if you think about it, because of one man – Adam – the world was thrown into sin. Adam was perfect until he sinned. Jesus was our second Adam; He never sinned. Ever. He is incapable of it.
The world was messed up because of one man, and it was saved because of One God.
But why did Jesus have to die? Why couldn’t we keep on offering sacrifices forever?
The answer is that the animal sacrifices only covered our sins – they didn’t remove them. To remove them, One Perfect sacrifice is needed. No sin can stand in God’s presence. Even the Law of Moses does not make us holy. The Law is only to prove how we can’t save ourselves, because all break the Law..
James 1:2 says “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.” Therefore, if we even break one tiny rule, we are condemned.
The Law is for those who lived before Jesus’ death. After He rose, we live under a different age, an age of grace, where we don’t have to try and try and try and fail to reach Christ.
Jesus’ death bridged the gap. His perfect blood cleansed our sins away.
God Himself – His only Son – willingly dying for such a screwed up people such as ourselves. How many gods would step down from their thrones to live in a world that is torn all apart? How many gods would die for dirt like us?
Only One. And He did it for YOU. For ME.
But it’s our choice. We can choose to accept His gift and let Him into our lives, healing our sin and giving us the promise of heaven. It’s up to you.
My cousin put it this way once; picture yourself in a courtroom. You owe billions and billions of dollars. So much you could never pay it. Just as you are about to be sentenced, the door bursts open and the world’s richest person enters and tells the judge to let you go free because they have offered to pay your debt themselves.
You can accept this incredible gift, a gift you could never repay, or you could refuse and take the punishment. You have a choice. God won’t force you.
This analogy, my friend, is our lives. God is the judge. He sees your sin, every single one, and you can never make up for all the sin you have committed. But Jesus offers to pay for it. He already did on the cross, but you can choose. You can say no to His offer and live in your debt forever. Or you can let Him redeem you and change your life forever.
That being said, the story of Easter is not Jesus’ death. That was not the end. He rose, my friend. Early Sunday morning, the entire universe changed when He conquered death forever and opened heaven for all to enter, freely, if they choose to accept His gift.
I would have loved to be there that Sunday morning, be one of the few to see Him following the resurrection. To experience the freedom the world has never known, right at the beginning.
He rose on the third day, just as He promised and God never, ever breaks a promise. He promised Adam in Genesis 3 that one day Jesus would be born, and He was.
He promised Abraham and Sarah a son and in Genesis 21, that promise was fulfilled.
He promised David in 1st Samuel 16 that one day he would be king, and David eventually did reign over Israel.
He promised to rise from death and He did. He promises to take your sins and He does.
Easter is the completion of the salvation story, outlined in Matthew 28. Easter is the intense joy of knowing the hope that He conquered death, that we no longer have to be ashamed and condemned. We are His own special treasure (Deuteronomy 7:6) if we choose Him.
In my little human brain, I can’t understand why God would do it. Why would Jesus die for us? We certainly don’t deserve it! All I can do is thank Him for His endless grace and mercy on us. I know it is hard to believe, but salvation is so simple. “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in Your heart that God raised Him from the dead, then you will be saved.” Romans 10:9.
I believe. Do you?