Why Easter Had to Happen

The difference between the Old and New Testaments in the Bible and why it matters

I feel it is very appropriate that Easter is celebrated during the spring. Just when the old is melting away and new life is growing in its place, we see the holiday that honors the resurrection of Jesus and the start of a new life in His grace.

I have often heard questions as to the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament in the Bible, specifically why Christians don’t follow all the laws set out in the earliest books of the Bible.

For starters, to get a few definitions straight, the Bible is one big Book made up of sixty-six smaller books. Each of these books is oftentimes named after the author of that particular book or after whom the books were written to originally. This is not always the case, but I want to be clear when I make references that each of these books is found inside the Bible. 

The word Testament is a synonym for covenant. There are two clear covenants God made with His people outlined in the Bible, separated in the Old Testament and New Testament. 

The Old Testament contains 39 books of the Bible. There is a four-hundred-year gap between the events in the last book of the Old Testament, Micah, and the events that start the New Testament in the book of Matthew. The New Testament has 27 books.

We have to start back in the very first book of the entire Bible, Genesis chapter three. Adam and Eve were created by God to live in the Garden of Eden, perfect in every way, before sin entered the world. It only took three chapters for Adam to be tempted by Satan, the devil disguised in a snake, and for him to sin against God, bringing sin into the world.

In Genesis 3, we see that God sends Adam and Eve away from the garden as a consequence of their sin, but God doesn’t leave them stranded. Just because they screwed up all of His perfect creation, He didn’t abandon them. Far from it!

God said to Satan, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will crush your head, and you will strike His heel.” – Genesis 3:15

God is saying there will be bad blood between Satan and Adam and Eve. “The offspring” refers to the promise of a Savior through a human lineage who “will crush (Satan’s) head.” Satan will be conquered, but he will strike the Savior’s heel.

Fast forward some four thousand years to the book of Matthew chapter twenty-seven in the New Testament, we see Jesus Christ, fully man and fully God, the descendant of Adam and Eve, crucified on a cross. Nails pierced His heels and wrists. Three days later, He rose from death, defeating Satan’s most powerful tool. 

So, we see a time period where sins need animal sacrifices to atone for sins. Jumping ahead to the second book of the Bible, Exodus starting in chapter nineteen, we see God laying out rules of “the law” for His chosen people, Israel, who would offer sacrifices to atone for their sins. Part of the law was the famous Ten Commandments (found in Exodus 20: 2-17 and also in Deuteronomy 5: 6-21), but there were many more rules than just those ten. All of it adds up to God setting His chosen people apart. The whole world could see that the nation of God was different in how they lived and the law they kept, showing their dedication to their God. 

That’s the Old Testament. 

God, in all His glory, cannot be aligned with any form of sin. God is perfect, and sin and perfection just don’t mix. How are we supposed to belong to a God so holy that we cannot enter His kingdom when we are so messed up just the way we are?

The New Testament tells that story. God wants us to live with Him – we are His special treasure (Deuteronomy 7: 6-7). He made us (Psalm 139:13). He loves us (John 3:16). Despite our sin.

So He sent Jesus, His only Son, fully man and fully God (John 10:30). Jesus lived a perfect life on this earth, keeping every detail of the law, fulfilling it in our place because we as humans are completely incapable of doing this to save ourselves. Thus, with His death and resurrection, He made way for us to be saved. All we have to do is to “believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved” (Acts 16:31).

The Old Testament is showing us how we cannot save ourselves. The New Testament contains the earthly life of Jesus in the first four books, the Gospels.

We still see “rules” in the New Testament, but they’re not like the rules of the Old Testament. If we break them, we don’t have to offer sacrifices because Jesus already was the ultimate sacrifice. We should still strive to follow them, but failure to do so will not result in eternal damnation, as long as you have already accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior. 

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:12-14

We can never achieve perfection in this world the way we are, but Christians should strive to be like Jesus because we should love Him and want to be like Him.

It all adds up that the main difference between the Old and New Testaments is Jesus. We live in a time where all that is required for salvation is to “…declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). 

No rules and regulations. No strings attached. We still have the Bible as our guidance directly from God, and as long as you have truly, once and for all, accepted Jesus as Lord of your life, you are saved. We should still be striving to live for Him according to the Bible, but out of love, not out of obligation. 

Easter is the fulfillment of our salvation, the celebration of salvation and Jesus conquering death so His people can live with Him. 

That, my friends, is the best news of all.

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