Contrary to popular belief that Easter (an Old English word for ‘Passover’) is all about chocolate, eggs and bunnies, Easter is celebrated by Christians as a time that represents the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
It would be impossible to delve into all the details of these two events and what they mean in such a short space. But phrases such as “Jesus died for your sins” or “he was raised on the third day” often become clichés that bear no meaning for many people.
So what do these phrases really mean? Their meaning is multi-faceted and often very difficult to grasp unless we really know who Jesus was and how he lived his life. All of that has been recorded in the Bible books of Matthew, Mark Luke and John, and anyone interested in Christianity should start there.
In short, Jesus ‘died for our sins’ on Good Friday by taking them upon himself when he, as an innocent man who brought healing to others, underwent a torturous and unjust death nailed to a Roman instrument of capital punishment – a wooden cross. Justice declares that all of us, one way or another, ought to pay for the wrong things (sin) we have done to each other and even to ourselves. In effect, death is our punishment. But Jesus took the punishment of death upon himself in our place and was raised to life three days later on the Sunday (Easter Sunday) after He himself had conquered death.
By taking the punishment upon himself we no longer have to face what justice requires. Instead, we can go free – live forgiven, restored, in peace and in healing. By being raised to life Jesus declares that he has conquered death and that all who trust in Him live in his victory. In other words, we move from death into life, not death into death, when we trust Jesus. And all it takes is a simple decision to do so!
When Jesus insisted that those who were murdering him and mankind should not suffer justice but be forgiven (Luke 23:34) he ushered in a new order (Kingdom) of grace, mercy and peace. No longer does mankind need to live under an order where wrong must be put right through punishment, but now mankind can live in an order of grace and mercy where wrong is put right through love. This is how the Christian endeavours to live – just as Jesus lived.
There’s more. Jesus gives Christians his Holy Spirit, who is also God, and who lives in Christians, empowering them to live a life of love and grace; empowering them to bring God’s healing, restoration and reconciliation to the world.
And it all boils down to that pinnacle moment – Easter Sunday – when what God will do in the future – raise us up to life – was brought into the present.
The promise of God’s grace, mercy, peace and restoration is open to anyone and everyone. It doesn’t matter who you are and what you’ve done, when you trust in Jesus your sins are completely wiped away.
That’s why we celebrate Easter.