What is Easter really all about???
EGGS, BUNNIES, AND CANDY?
Just like other holidays, the celebration of Easter has come to include many traditions, decorations, and fun events which have nothing to do with the real meaning of the day. Coloring and hunting for Easter eggs, eating candy, and enjoying a big family dinner are fun things to do, but the true meaning of Easter is not found in any of them. Easter is the time of year when Christians remember and celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
WHY CELEBRATE SOMEONE’S DEATH?
It might seem strange to some people that we remember and even celebrate the death of Jesus Christ. Why do we do it? Just like we would honor the loss of a soldier who died for our country, or a hero who lost his life while rescuing someone dear to us, Christians commemorate the death of Jesus Christ because He died for us—He died to rescue us. This is the message of the Bible. In order to understand it, let’s start at the beginning…
The word “Bible” is simply a foreign language word that means “book” (that language is Greek, in case you wondered). Those who translated this remarkable text into English felt that it was way too special to just call it a book, so they instead used the foreign word but with English letters to coin a new word: Bible. It’s not just a book, it’s THE Book! In its pages God has told us everything we need to know about Him, ourselves, the universe and the meaning of life.
This Book tells of how God, in the beginning, created the heavens and the Earth (Genesis 1:1). He created a perfect paradise and all living things, both man and animals. When God looked at this masterpiece on the sixth day of creation, he declared that it was very, very good (Genesis 1:31). God’s creation included no pain, no death, no corruption, no loss. That’s not true today, is it? Something has definitely gone wrong in order to change our world from what the Bible originally describes into what we see today. Today we see death, divorce, hate, anger, pain, suffering, longing, hoping, wishing. What happened? Romans 5:12 explains that sin happened. Sin is a word for rebellion against God. It’s telling God “No! I’m going to live my life MY way” (never mind the fact that you created me and actually want what’s good for me…). How DOES our creator want us to live? Just like He lives. God’s character is clearly spelled out in his law, the 10 commandments (found in Exodus 20). God never lies, and so to lie is sin. God is loving, and so to hate others is sin. God is faithful, thus adultery is sin. Get the picture?
The first man and woman chose to break God’s law because they believed a lie (Genesis 3). They were convinced that God was holding out on them, that God didn’t want them to have a full and happy life and that’s why He gave them those laws. They rebelled. Instead of fulfillment, however, they found guilt and earned the just penalty for their sin. Can a known murderer go free in our justice system? Actually, that CAN happen and sometimes does because of technicalities in the legal system. But is it right? No! God’s justice system isn’t broken like ours. He perfectly sees all the evidence of a person’s life from the moment of birth to the instant of death. Romans 6:23 warns us that the sentence passed down to all rebels/sinners is death. Revelation 20:12-14 explain that this sentence will be carried out one day in the future when all people stand before God to be judged by their works. What will be said of YOU on that day? I ask because you and I face the same predicament. We have both chosen to break God’s laws. We have both refused to love Him with all of our hearts (that would be the 1st commandment… need we go on?). We have both rebelled. If God’s court is just (not corrupt or faulty like human courts), we both deserve to be “cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:14).
THE GOOD NEWS
I know all of this sounds very dark and perhaps offensive. If you’ve read up to this point with an open mind, you must agree that it looks like an open and shut case against all of us. Are you concerned? If so, keep reading. Here is the good news: God cares for you even more than you care for yourself. I know because of what the Bible says He did for you. God loves you and hates to think that you will be found guilty and sentenced to Hell one day (2 Peter 3:9). The problem is that He can’t just say your sins are no big deal and let you off the hook because He’s just. He would be a corrupt judge to simply let guilty people go free without executing the deserved penalty. Romans 3:26 teaches that God loved the world so much that He declared a way in which He could be just and yet act toward individuals as if they had never broken His law! Have you ever heard of John 3:16? I’m sure you’ve at least seen the reference on a t-shirt or something. John 3:16 is the “address” to a statement in the Bible that says “God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Jesus Christ was that eternal Son of God whom He “gave.” When it says that God “gave his Son,” it means that He sent Jesus to earth to take on humanity, to live a perfectly sinless life, and then to be punished for the sins of others (Philippians 2:6-8). “Christ” is another one of those foreign words that we just kept instead of translating. It means “anointed” or “chosen” (like when you anoint a king...). He was chosen to pay the penalty for the sins of others because he was the only one who could. You see, Jesus didn’t have any rebellion of his own to pay for. That punishment took place one dark day nearly 2,000 years ago. Men who hated Jesus (because he told them that they were sinners and they didn’t want to hear it) beat him, whipped him, mocked him, and finally nailed his hands and feet to a wooden cross just outside of Jerusalem in Israel. While he hung on the cross barely alive, God’s wrath and anger at my sins and yours was poured out on Jesus. God punished his son because I was guilty of lying, because I complain, because of MY selfishness and rebellion. He punished Christ for each and every one of your sins too (“Christ died for our sins” 1 Corinthians 5:3).
Can you imagine how much God must love you in order to punish His eternal Son so that you could be spared judgment? But how could you possibly know that was true, especially if the main proponent of the theory was dead? The answer: the resurrection. Three days later, God raised his Son from the dead to show the world that He had accepted Christ’s sacrifice and that the transaction was finished. This event was corroborated by hundreds of witnesses who had nothing to gain and everything to lose by testifying that they had seen the risen Savior. The only explanation for their actions was that they could not deny what they had seen.
All that remains is to have his payment applied to your account. Maybe you’ve heard of people talk about being “saved.” That kind of talk comes from Acts 16:31 where the Bible tells us that those who will turn from their rebellion, ask forgiveness for their sins, and accept Christ’s payment on their behalf will be safe from God’s judgment. In fact, it’s better than that. Not only will they be safe from judgment, they actually have peace with God (Romans 5:1) and are promised eternal life in a place similar to God’s original perfect creation only without any possibility of further rebellion, corruption, sorrow or death (Revelation 21:1-4).
I know that is a lot to take in, especially if you’ve never heard any of it before. I share these things because we at First Baptist Church care about you. We want you to have peace and forgiveness, and to get to know your Creator through the Book He gave. Will you invite Jesus to be your Lord and Savior? Maybe you're not ready yet. That is understandable, but please remember: "no one knows what a day will bring forth." You may not have all the time in the world to decide. If you have questions please contact us. We'd be happy to sit down and discuss them with you.