Easter is around the corner this Sunday, and for Christians, this is the most important day in the annual calendar. And for some reason, Easter is kind of creeping up on us this year – it usually runs a little later in April. And it doesn’t seem like Easter – it snowed several days ago, the spring flowers aren’t really blooming yet and at least as far as I am concerned, I think of Easter as a time of renewal and new growth.
I think that’s because my grandfather always thought of spring as the time that the dead of winter is over and we look forward to God’s provision of a new year, full of excitement, new growth and wild expectation. And when I think of Easter, that’s what I think of. The triumph of the cross and the new beginnings that God provided to each of us by providing a way for us to get back into communion with Him.
Many religions have experienced the death of a founder, or author, of its faith. And Christianity is no different. But it is different in one very important, incredible way. And that is this… Jesus rose from the dead. And eternal life at that! For if Jesus had not risen that Easter morning, then Christianity would be nothing more than a footnote in the history books from the first century.
The teachings of Jesus to his group of followers allowed twelve people to spread the doctrines of agape love and eternal life to billions of people throughout the past 2000 years. But before we can get to the celebration part, we must remember the torture and death of Jesus on that cross so many years ago. Of course, there are those who still don’t believe that Jesus had to die; and many more who think that Jesus never did actually die, but historians and independent accounts of the events of those several days make it difficult to deny that Jesus was a real person, who was crucified and buried – and rose on what we refer to as Easter morning.
The events surrounding the death of Jesus authenticate the fact that the veil separating God from His people was permanently abolished that day – making it possible for you and for me to commune with God directly – not needing an intercessor pleading our case before the Father. And just in case Satan decides to try and roll us under the bus, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are there for us – making sure that Satan’s words fall on God’s deaf ears.
Each spring around this time, I think about the fact that a number of years ago, Janet and I thought our son Andrew had cancer. I remember preaching a sermon the following Good Friday – and how the anticipated possible death of our son put a whole new spin on what God must have felt when He willingly sacrificed His son on the cross. I can’t even begin to understand the agony that God must have felt – recognizing that as a just God somebody had to pay the price for the sins of mankind – and then loving us enough to pay the price Himself. It’s just beyond my comprehension…
So this is an important week-end. Tonight – Maunday Thursday, the remembrance of the Last Supper before the betrayal of Jesus by Judas. Then Good Friday, the remembrance of the death of Jesus, and then, the day before Easter. It is interesting to note that Saturday is recognized as the only day of the year that Jesus was not present on earth. Of course, the celebration climaxes on Sunday, Easter Sunday to be exact.
It all happened because of the love that is recorded in the most famous verse of the Bible. Tonight’s verse, John 3:16, is known to almost all of us. “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in Him shall never die, but have everlasting life.” My encouragement this evening is that Jesus died for everyone – not just Christians. And that means the power of the cross is open to all. My prayer is that this week-end you will remember the sacrifices that Jesus and God the Father made for us. And then, when Sunday rolls around, we can all proclaim, “He is Risen.” Happy Easter – have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…