The BIG DEAL with Easter
Good Friday, Ash Wednesday, Easter Sunday…What’s the big deal?
We know Easter means pastel colors, candy on sale, and overstuffed bunnies bigger than Santa Clause the morning after Christmas. As a kid, I remember Easter was about getting as much candy as possible and then brokering candy trades with the other kids. Is that it? Is there more than big bonnets and brunch buffets?
Well, all of Christianity depends on Easter. That’s all.
If there’s no Easter, there’s no church…no songs, no celebration. Easter is the event in which God’s Christmas gift to the world comes to full bloom. Easter is the center of God’s rescue story and the greatest win in Jesus’ life.
But to understand Easter, we’ve got to back up a little. Just days before his brutal death, Jesus was trending. His popularity was at a high point and he had followers all over the city waiting to see what he would do. When it became apparent that Jesus wasn’t the political hero or new leader they were hoping for, his fans easily swayed against him.
Sold out by one in his inner circle of men, Jesus was arrested and handed over to be beat up by soldiers. He was dragged by night to a mock trial where witness after witness was found to be lying. The presiding judges couldn’t find any guilt in him so, they passed him from court to court until he was finally handed over to the wish of the people—execution.
But in all this, Jesus was not a victim. Jesus willingly walked the bloody path of the cross. His torture and death didn’t take him by surprise; he allowed himself to be rejected and murdered. All throughout his teaching he alluded to his coming death. At one of the last parties before his death, one of his friends even put burial ointment on him. To you and I that sounds like a morbid party gift, but it was fitting, as Jesus often predicted that his own death was critical, even necessary for God’s plan.
Jesus death was necessary because he was more than just an ordinary man. Jesus Christ was God come down to earth. Born at Christmas, gift to the world, he willing died on the Friday before Easter to pay the price for every guilty thought and evil action. He took in his death the consequence of wrong and paid what every human being owed to God. In Jesus, God himself paid back to God for the mess we had made.
Like the dad who pays for the window broken by his son’s baseball, God came down and paid the cost for your wrong thoughts and my bad deeds. On the cross, God suffered. It wasn’t just a guy named Jesus who was tortured—God was tortured, God was bruised, God was scarred, and God bled.
One of the nicknames for Jesus is the “Last Adam” because he paid for the train-wreck of evil the first Adam started in a garden. Where Adam disobeyed and tried to make himself like God, Jesus made himself a man to pay for our offenses. Where the first Adam opened the door to death for the human race, Jesus Christ brought life to all people through the payment of his own death.
But Easter is more than just Jesus’ death. The story of Easter is that Jesus paid for wickedness by dying Friday and delivered a shattering blow to death when God raised him back to life on Sunday. Where it looked like evil had won by killing God, Jesus won the ultimate victory. In his death he paid for our sins, and by being raised from the dead it proved everything he said to be true and confirmed his power over the grave. At the cross, Jesus used evil against itself, allowing himself to be killed in order to put the chokehold on sin and offer life to everyone through his resurrection.
That’s why Easter is more than bonnets and brunches. It’s about Jesus. It’s about standing mouth-wide-open in awe of the sacrifice God took to give us life. We celebrate the fact that God willingly took the punishment due us and gave us a new life in Jesus. This great exchange far outweighs any barter for chocolate or candy and is the reason why we celebrate Easter.