While the expectation of this week was to study the final act of God’s creation; it is only appropriate that we take pause from our current study to focus on the purpose of today’s celebration. Across the globe little children, my own included, will be searching diligently for hidden eggs; they will consume quantities of chocolate bunnies beyond our comprehension. However, the Easter bunny, the eggs, the candy and little baskets, they have nothing to do with the celebration of Christ’s resurrection. Though these things come from a pagan holiday, I do not condemn them, they are fun for the children, and I love decorating eggs and hiding them from my precious little ones. Yet we must be diligent in teaching our children the true meaning of Easter, and we can only do so if we are armed with the knowledge. Today we celebrate the greatest triumph in history! Today we celebrate the risen Christ!
“And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8 ESV).
“But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, as He said. Come, see the place where He lay. Then go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead, and behold He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see Him’” (Matthew 28:5-7 ESV).
While I would love to take the time to fully explore everything having to do with Christ’s death and resurrection, that is something we will take full account of when we reach that place in our study. However, I would be derelict in my duty to Christ if I did not take a few moments to ponder, study, and share the wondrous beauty that is Christ resurrected.
Good Friday was but a few days ago, and it is a celebration of the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. You may wonder why we would celebrate the death of our Lord. If not for His sacrifice, we would still be locked in rebellion to God; we would have no means of reconciliation to Him and would be condemned to hell for all eternity. Too strong of an image for you? It is the reality of the fallen world we live in. We are but a short stroll away from our study of the saddest moment in the history of the human race. That moment in which the first two humans; created by God; living with God; chose to defy Him and began a rebellion against the throne of heaven. It was in that very moment that mankind was condemned. If that image makes you squirm, then you are in the right place. If it does not, trust me, you are definitely in the right place.
Yet God, in His infinite wisdom, already knew this would happen. Despite this, He loved us enough from before creation that He brought us into existence anyway. There was a penalty to be paid for rebellion though; that penalty is death. But our loving Father had already devised a way in which we could have our sentence commuted; our execution stayed. Through the sacrifice of His only Son, Jesus Christ.
“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned…yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many” (Romans 5:12; 14-15 ESV Emphasis Mine).
Jesus Christ upon the cross, paying the penalty of death for the sins of all of mankind; one sacrifice for all sin. It was gift! It is a gift! That is what grace is all about! Jesus Christ gave Himself as the ransom; the penalty; the punishment; He gave His life so that you do not have to. That is why we celebrate the death of Christ upon the cross, for it is in this one act, above all others, that God demonstrates His love for us. If your creation was not enough to signify His love for you, how much so should His sacrifice be?!
Now you say to me, ‘but we are all going to die’; this is true, but not in the way you think. There are in fact two deaths; that which we must all encounter as our bodies give out from the wear and tear of a hard life lived in a fallen world. But there is a second death, one which is far worse than the first. The death of the soul; when the spirit of a man is separated from God eternally in hell.
“He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death” (Revelation 2:11 NIV).
“Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death” (Revelation 20:14 NIV).
“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death” (Revelation 21:8 NIV Emphasis Mine).
That is the punishment of death which sin carries. It was that death that Christ overcame; that death that Christ took in our place!
It is for this reason we celebrate His resurrection. See, if Christ died on the cross for our sins but remained in the grave, then He was nothing more than an ordinary man with an extraordinary message. But if Christ be risen, death could not hold Him; He could not be defeated by the penalty of death; a penalty which exists because of mankind’s rebellion to God.
“And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14 ESV).
But He has been raised!
“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:20 ESV).
This is the glory of God; the love of our Creator! Christ gave Himself as a sacrifice in order to pay the penalty of death that was owed by all of mankind. It is for this reason that our sins are forgiven. Ahhh, but He rose again from the grave after three days; He defeated death! It is for this reason that we live eternally in heaven alongside Him!
On this day we celebrate the victory of Christ over sin and death, knowing that His victory is our victory!
On this day I urge you, my fellow man, to renew your relationship with Jesus Christ; the only way out of the mess we are in; the only means of your reconciliation to God. There is no price; it is a gift there to be received by all who take hold of it. Are you alone? Afraid? Wondering why you are here? Do you wonder at your purpose in life? Do you fear death? Now is the time! Right now! Because of the love of Christ I am a new man. If you had met me before I was saved and saw me today, you would not recognize me. I am a new creation. The old has been washed from me. I am redeemed. Set free from the bonds of slavery that sin held me in. All because of the love of Christ.
If you do not have a part in Him, He will not have a part in you. But there is hope. His love extends far beyond anything we can imagine. He takes the weak, the weary, the wicked, the lonely, the skeptical, the sinful, the mean and nasty; He takes all of the worst in mankind and says “I forgive you, and I love you”. This is not a love that can be comprehended by you, or by me. It is a love that runs deeper than the creation itself. And you can experience this love, right here, right now!
It is literally as simple as admitting to Christ that you are a sinner, and asking Him to forgive you. His answer is always yes so long as your heart is true. Think you are not a sinner? Think you can stand the rod of judgment? Think again. Have you ever lied? Even a little? Lusted; stolen; cursed God’s name; cheated; hated? We can be sure of one thing when it comes to sin. A “good man” according to our standards is a wicked man according to God’s standards. Do you think His standard too high? Can the Creator of heaven and earth not have high standards? Of course He can! And they are too high; too high in that we are un-able to reach them on our own. Oh but the love of Christ carries us to heights un-imaginable. Do you wish to know Him as I do?
You have but to ask Him and He will change you. If you desire to have your life changed for all eternity; to know and feel the un-ending love of Christ, repeat these words,
“Lord, I know I am a sinner and incapable of paying the penalty for that sin. I know that you died on the cross to pay the price for me. Please forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Make me a new creation. Take control of my life and teach me to live as you would have me live. Thank you for hearing my prayer. In Jesus’ name. Amen”
It really is that simple! That is what Easter is all about. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ so that you could say those few words with a true heart, and have your life changed forever. If you took the time to say that prayer and you wonder where to go next, please feel free to contact me directly and I would be honored to help you begin your studies. If you would like to share your experience and encourage others, please use the comments section.
I pray God’s blessings upon you and your family, and I pray that we each remember the depth of God’s love in His sacrifice for our inequities.
Happy Easter. He is Risen!