Thoughts on Easter

19 03 2008

In only a handful of days the Easter event will be upon us. Easter is the centerpiece of the Christian faith. Interestingly enough, when Paul wrote to what was possibly the most jacked-up church in all of history (the Corinthian church), he said that the cross of Christ was of first importance. That in the death of Christ we have a Savior who died for our sins.

Why is this of first importance? It is of first importance because it is our sin that destroys any relationship that we have with God. God promised Adam that if he were to sin (by taking fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil), he would die. Death is the curse that accompanies sin. A look at the world shows that whilst there is much good, there is also much evil. That evil was introduced with the sin of Adam and Eve. Christ’ s death is of first importance because in his death he acted as our substitute; a perfect atonement for sin (this is portrayed – albeit not perfectly – in pop culture through Aslan’s death as a substitute for Edmund in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and by Lily Potter sacrificing her own life in order to save her son Harry in the Harry Potter series). In wonderful irony it is in the death of Christ that we have life and a reconciled relationship with God in which Jesus acts as our mediator.

If the story had stopped there, that would be nice – Jesus saves us. But it does not end there. The story of Easter did not end with Good Friday. If it stopped there we would remember Jesus’ death as Bad Friday. Paul goes on to talk of the resurrection of Jesus and then list all the witnesses who were honored to see the resurrection (including 500 at one time). The resurrection means that we not only have a Savior to save us from our sin, but a Lord who is able to lead us in new life as he was raised in new life. In the resurrection we have the hope that sin will not have the final say in our life. That in the resurrected Jesus there is a new power at work that works to overcome sin and lead us in a life that pleases God.

The Easter story is of first importance because it brings the promise that sin will not have the final say in this world. It brings the hope that in Jesus, God has conquered Satan, sin, and death and that by placing faith in Jesus, we too can live in the hope of that glory; free from the burden of sin, and free to live without having to look back over our shoulder hoping that our sin does not catch up with us because we know that in Christ our sin is dealt with.

The beauty of this is that with the death of Christ came the death of religion. Contrary to popular belief, Jesus did not come to start a new religion but rather to destroy any need for religion. Religion is what man does to please God: pray five times a day, become enlightened, work through your karma, call a holy war, say ten “Hail Mary’s,” try harder, do better, and maybe – maybe – God will be merciful. Maybe you will achieve salvation.

The matter of first importance that the Apostle Paul speaks of goes beyond Jesus dying for our sin and raising from the grave to be our Lord. It puts an end to the trying harder. Right-ness before God is not a goal to be achieved. Rather it is a gift that is to be received through Jesus. The Easter message is that God sent Jesus into the world to save sinners through his death, and be their Lord through his resurrection. In the crucifixion, God’s demand for both mercy and justice is satisfied. Indeed, through in the crucifixion justice and mercy kiss, ending the need for any religion whatsoever. We need no longer please God in order to attain salvation because Jesus has achieved that through his death, burial, and resurrection.

The question is, how do we respond? As Jesus was being crucified to other men hung with him. Both wanted salvation. The first cried, “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” The other man addressing Jesus simply said, “Remember me, when you come into your kingdom” (see Luke 23). The contrast is stark. The first man saw Jesus as a genie god sent to fulfil his own desires (curiously he sounds a lot like Satan in the desert temptation of Matthew 4, “If you are the son of God…”). The second man saw a greater power that brought about repentance “We are getting what our deeds deserve.” In the face of the crucified Christ, who do we connect with more? Do we remain proud as the first criminal asking Jesus to save us for our own ends? Or do we humbly repent before the Savior of the world, seeking salvation not for our own glory and honor, but rather for Jesus’ glory and honor?

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19 03 2008
Thoughts on Easter « Bucheon Onnuri English Ministry

[…] Read more at Pastor Dave’s blog here. […]

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