When you think of Easter, what comes to mind? Egg hunts and chocolate bunnies? Maybe going to church and seeing children in new, pastel-coloured clothing and fancy hats? Perhaps Sunday dinner with the family enjoying ham and all the fixings?
These are not bad things, but they really don’t encompass the importance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus being raised from the dead is the single most significant event in Christianity because it established the New Covenant and opened the way for non-Jews to have a relationship with God.
From the Beginning
In Genesis, we learn how God created man and woman in His own image. He placed them on the earth as His ambassadors, to rule and reign, to have dominion over the rest of creation. He also hoped that they would stand up to and subdue Lucifer, a rebellious, former archangel in heaven who tried to overthrow God (God expelled him from heaven, and he’s now known as Satan).
However, Adam and Eve messed up; they listened to Satan and disobeyed God. Their sin separated them from God, so God designed a rescue plan. First, in order to reconcile His creation back to Himself (meaning to become friends again), God instructed people to sacrifice perfect animals: this innocent blood would cover the people’s sins and make them acceptable to God. In fact, “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22).
Why Did Jesus Die?
But this wasn’t the end of the rescue plan. God determined that the blood of lambs and goats was only a temporary solution. He decided to give His own Son as the final, perfect sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins: this is the New Covenant. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
Just before Jesus was baptised, John the Baptist “saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’” (John 1:29). Jesus was the final blood sacrifice, the perfect lamb, the God-man whose innocent blood would forever make us acceptable to God.
During the last meal He had with His disciples, Jesus “took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins’” (Matthew 26:27-28).
The blood of Jesus (New Covenant) is more powerful than the blood of animals (Old Covenant). Hebrews 9:13-15 says, “For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ … cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant.”
Jesus also submitted to the will of His Father. Just before Jesus was arrested and put on trial (for crimes He did not commit), He prayed and asked God to make another way: “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will” (Mark 14:36). Jesus was willing to suffer to fulfill the Father’s plan to redeem mankind.
Understanding the Resurrection
Not only did Jesus die, but He also rose from the dead! This is the power of Easter/Resurrection Day. Jesus is the only person to ever exist who died and came back to life, never to die again. (This sets Christianity apart from all other religions.) Jesus predicted his death and resurrection: “From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day” (Matthew 16:21).
It’s also important to understand that Jesus’ resurrection fulfilled scriptures about the Jewish Messiah. “The prophets and Moses said [these things] would come—that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles” (Acts 26:22-23). Access to God was no longer limited to only Jews but now was extended to everyone!
1 Corinthians 15:3-4 teaches that, “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and … He was buried, and … He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and … He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.” Some people question whether Jesus physically came back from the dead, but more than five hundred people saw Him and spoke with Him in the days after his resurrection.
Why the Resurrection Matters
Death and sickness entered the world for the first time when Adam and Eve sinned. It was never God’s plan for us to endure pain, get sick, or die. But Jesus defeated death so that we too can have life eternally. 1 Corinthians 15:20-22 explains, “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.”
Mankind wasn’t just physically dying, but spiritually dead before Christ came. But because of Jesus’ victory on the cross, we not only have new life spiritually, but eventually, we’ll have a new body too (2 Corinthians 5:1-3). Ephesians 3:20-21 teaches that “the Lord Jesus Christ … will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.” Because death is defeated, we don’t need to fear death anymore!
Thanks to Jesus’ work on the cross, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). We can experience newness and abundant life even now because of Jesus’ sacrifice (John 10:10). We share in the power of the resurrection as God transforms us and brings life to us every day.
Because of the resurrection, all things are under His feet and under His authority (1 Corinthians 15:24-28). And since the church is the body of Christ, and His body has feet, all things are under our feet too! In fact, “we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).
What Should Our Response Be?
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Love compelled God to give His only Son; Jesus endured an excruciating death as the final, perfect Lamb of God whose blood would forever make us right with God if we would believe and follow Him as disciples.
When we consider all this, there’s really only one response that is appropriate: “those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5:15). We must live for God, not ourselves. We must concern ourselves with what concerns Him. We must seek His Kingdom first and devote ourselves to following His ways and His Word. We must love God will all our heart, soul and mind (Matthew 22:37). This is how we can show devotion and appreciation to God for His goodness and love.
~ Jennell Houts