The meaning of Easter

Today is Good Friday, and Christians all over the world will remember it as the day on which Jesus died for all peoples all over the world. The premise is that none of us is perfect: we are all capable of doing wrong and often do do wrong. Look around the world, and we will see evil abounding as much as good.

Our uncouth thoughts and actions separate us from a perfect God, who longs to be reconciled with us. For this reason, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, as a blood sacrifice for our sins – once and forever. By dying on the cross, Jesus took upon His own body the cumulative effect of all the wrongs that the world has committed, and will continue to commit unless we follow His way. He buried our sins with Him when He died; whilst His resurrection proclaims hope in a new life with Him both on earth and in heaven.

For those of us who believe in the Gospel, God is a Father to us in the same way in which a man is a father to his children. God knows and loves each of us individually just as an earthly father knows and loves each of his children individually. Thus Christians believe that Jesus died for one and all. We believe that He loves each of us individually, and that when He died, He died for each of us individually too.

Without Christ’s resurrection there can be no true belief in the power of God. If Jesus had died and remained in the land of the dead, then Christians would be among some of the most pitiable souls on earth – believing that someone dead can offer eternal life. However, Christians believe that Jesus rose from the dead. His resurrection indicates that He defeated death and that He offers those who believe in Him and accept Him as their Saviour a means of defeating spiritual death. When a person believes, then that person also has the hope of eternal life.

However, simply believing that Jesus died for us and that He offers us a life with Him after our physical death does not even begin to plumb the riches that becoming a Christian offers. I would be the first to admit that the Christian path can be scary as well as exhilarating. Becoming a Christian means surrendering one’s life to God, first by accepting Jesus as one’s Lord as well as one’s Saviour. Giving one’s life over to God and vowing to follow His will is not the easiest thing in the world. Most of us are at least a little stubborn, and would prefer to do what we want to do rather than what God wants us to do.

But the Lord is ever gracious. He tells us not to be afraid; He will help us follow His way. Christians believe that God is three persons in one: God the Father; God the Son; and God the Holy Spirit. Once we truly accept Christ as our Lord and Saviour, God gives us His Holy Spirit who basically helps to keep us on the straight and narrow provided we trust our lives to Him. (Although the Holy Spirit is not comparable with our conscience, this is an easy way to form a concept of Him.) The Holy Spirit also comforts us when we feel afraid and feel out of our depth.

The Holy Spirit guides us in our lives, provided we do not veer away from Him. Now, this is easier said than done. We are all humans with human failings – and more importantly, we have free will. For these reasons, even though one may have committed one’s life to the Lord, one does not always find it easy to follow His way. Moreover there are times when one might feel that God is far away or that, try as one might, one cannot seem to hear Him. This is where faith becomes really important. Think about Abraham who was about to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, to God. As a father, he must have been in anguish as he tied up his son for the sacrifice, especially when Isaac asked him where the sacrificial lamb was. ‘God will provide,’ said Abraham; which indeed He did – with a sacrificial ram caught in the bushes. There is more to understand in this Biblical story, but I am sure you see what I mean.

A 17th century painting of the story of Abraham and the sacrifice of Isaac (1650). God Himself provides the sacrifice! Photo courtesy of http://freechristimages.org/biblestories/abraham_and_isaac.htm.

With respect to my own life, moving to the Lake District, taking on a new job for which I had had no training or experience, and leaving family in Scotland to do so, was a leap of faith. Hubby and I prayed to know the Lord’s will, and He used our own circumstances to lead us. When the Lord wants something done, He will engineer things so that they all fall into place. This was what happened to us.

But the life of a Christian is not simply about asking God for things and expecting Him to follow through. Jesus tells us in the Bible that when we ask the Father for something in His name and in the Father’s will, we will receive it. Sometimes what we think as good does not necessarily tie in with the Father’s will – so the answer is ‘no’. God is not one of those sugar daddies that says ‘yes’ to everything. Christians have to accept that His answers may be ‘No’, ‘Yes’ or ‘Wait’.

Easter time and Christmas time always make me think about how the wider populace view these ‘festivals’, for lack of a better word. Everything is so commercialised now and money seems to be the overriding factor during these periods – make as much as you can by selling as much as you can because people feel generous or obliged to spend during these times. People forget that these festivals are also a time for reflection on and worship of Jesus the Lord, the Son of God whose entry into this world is the reason that these festivals even came to be.

He is not here! He has risen! For while the cross truly symbolizes a love the Father has for the world, the empty grave indeed reminds us of our hope! Photo and caption courtesy of http://photographyfree4all.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/cross10_2.jpg

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