I'm not sure if it's just because Easter falls so early in this year, or that I've been so busy lately but this Easter took me by surprise at how fast it was approaching. Of myself I haven't had time to consider Easter or the story of Christ's Resurrection but reflecting on this past week there's several thoughts on Ester that the Lord has given me (from chapels, Bible studies and songs) that I'd like to share with y'all.
For the last two weeks my pastor has been teaching on Wednesday night Prayer Meeting about the Goodness and Severity (or Judgement) of God. He mentioned how a lot of people only want God to be a kindly grandfather in Heaven who continually gives good gifts. Other people only see God as severe, a grumpy old man sitting high in Heaven judging them. The truth is that God is both Good and Severe / Just. His Holy nature is so far above our sinful natures that He must Judge us fairly to be guilty, but God is so Good that He created a way for us to come to Him. He sent His only son Jesus Christ, who was both Holy God and a Perfect Man, to take the punishment for all of our sin by dying a cruel death on a cross like a common thief! This is what Good Friday is all about, Christ's death was because of our sin, his death was for us!
Friday one of my co-workers mentioned Romans 11:22 in devotional time and the Lord brought this thought to my mind: When Jesus died on the cross God showed both His Severity and His Goodness - His Severity was poured out on Jesus Christ so that His Goodness could be shown toward us!
If you've grown up in church like me this concept is not a new one but the connection of this verse to the Easter message had never occurred to me before. It's almost an unbelievable thought that a Holy, all-powerful Creator God could give such a good gift to sinners who have rejected Him, but this just shows how much God loves us!
Smitten, Stricken and Afflicted - hymn sung by Fernando Ortega
My sister got Fernando Ortega's hymns CD Beginnings for her birthday and I've enjoyed listening to the peaceful arrangements of classic hymns played on piano, violin and guitar. The hymn Smitten, Stricken and Afflicted really stuck out to me because the words tell of Jesus Christ's death on the cross and in particular the depth of pain he received when dying for us. He was indeed rejected, groaning, disowned, insulted, wounded and pierced and as the hymn says "Was there ever grief like His?".
But what was it all for? In verse four the hymn explains: "Lamb of God for sinners wounded! Sacrifice to cancel guilt!"
The hymn also issues a warning to unbelievers (just as Romans 11:22 does):
Ye who think of sin but lightly,
Nor suppose the evil great,
Here may view its nature rightly,
Here its guilt may estimate.
Mark the Sacrifice appointed!
See Who bears the awful load!
’Tis the Word, the Lord’s Anointed,
Son of Man, and Son of God.
It's All About The Resurrection
In all this talk about Christ's sacrifice and death it's very important to remember the real reason we celebrate Easter. Yes Jesus Christ did die but three days later he came alive again and rose from the dead! I was reminded of this in chapel at work this week when a writer for AiG spoke about the Infallible Proofs we have for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ (you can read his interesting series of blog articles about the Resurrection here). He mentioned that whenever the gospel is preached by the apostles the Resurrection is the focal point of their message.
Paul goes on to say in 1 Corinthians 15:13-14 - "But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain."
The good news is that Jesus Christ did indeed rise from the dead, he was seen by those who knew him after he rose and later his disciples saw him ascend to Heaven where he lives to make intercession for us!
Because he lives we can have forgiveness of sins, eternal life in Heaven and live each day in God's power!
Though we are dead in our sins our spirits can be made alive by believing in Jesus Christ's death, burial and resurrection. This is the real reason why we celebrate. This is why Easter should be an even bigger holiday for us as believers than Thanksgiving and even Christmas. At Christmas we celebrate Christ's coming but at Easter we celebrate Christ Jesus fulfilling the purpose for which he came: to bring us life!
Christ, the Lord, is risen today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth, reply, Alleluia!
-Christ the Lord is Risen Today, words by Charles Wesley
If you have never believed on Christ's death and resurrection and trusted him to take the punishment for your sins I pray that you will do that today. If you have any questions I would love to introduce you to my Jesus and help you know him as I do.
If you have believed in Christ Jesus as your savior I have the honor of calling you my sister (or brother) in Christ! I pray that you have a blessed Resurrection Sunday dwelling in the goodness of God!
What are your Easter plans?
How long have you known Christ Jesus as your Savior?