Christmas and Easter mornings were the highlights of every year of my childhood. From December 26th on, I anticipated celebrating Easter and all that went along with the holiday: going shopping with my Mom and sister to buy a new and frilly dress to wear to church; coloring eggs that mysteriously appeared outside our house for my siblings and I to hunt on Easter morning; singing favorite hymns like “Christ the Lord is Risen Today”; sharing a special meal with all my in-town relatives following church; and capping off the day with a huge Easter egg hunt at my Grandparents’ house, which resulted in an Easter basket filled with a bounty of egg shaped candy that I feasted on for days.
I knew that Easter was a celebration of Jesus being raised from the dead, but like most children— and I venture to say even many adults— my focus was more on the accoutrements of the holiday rather than on the true significance of Jesus’ death and resurrection. My family and I always attended Good Friday services, where I faithfully remained somber during the sermonettes on Jesus’ last words from the cross. I remember thinking it peculiar that the day that Jesus died and suffered so much pain was labeled as ‘good.’ Now, with a much greater understanding of all that His death and resurrection accomplished, I consider it not just ‘good’ Friday, but GREAT Friday! Life giving, death-defying Friday!
I realize that Jesus Christ came to earth for the express purpose of delivering me from the pain, suffering and eternal death that I deserve for my sin of rebellion against a Holy God. I am overwhelmed with gratitude and awe that Jesus, the perfect Son of God, chose to take on human flesh and died in my place on the cross! Yes, Christmas Day when we celebrate Christ’s birth is noteworthy, but Easter—or as I prefer ‘Resurrection Day’—is now ‘hands down’ my favorite holiday. It commemorates the day that Satan and death were defeated! It is the day that reminds me that ‘because Jesus lives, I can face tomorrow’, and every tomorrow after that, no matter what! Death has lost its sting! It has been ‘swallowed up in victory’! (1st Corinthians 15:54-55) I no longer have to fear the death of my body and eternal damnation; I can embrace death when it comes as the doorway to seeing Jesus ‘face-to-face’ and spending eternity in His glorious Presence!
The ultimate significance of Easter is that what we believe about what happened on that day divides the world in two: those who believe that Jesus atoned for their sin on the cross and receive Him as their personal Savior and ‘Lord of their life’ and therefore will be resurrected to eternal life with Him, and those who reject Him as their personal Savior and Lord and therefore condemn themselves to being resurrected to eternal damnation.
What separates Jesus from every other so called god in the world is that He alone claimed to be God, and proved His claim by His perfectly obedient life…. and by His power to overcome death as evidenced by His resurrection from the dead! His tomb is empty! Jesus, ‘the Word Who became flesh’, is alive! (John1:14) His Words are just as alive today as when He walked on earth in the flesh, and they produce life in all who believe them. Jesus is alive; He is at the right hand of the Father; and He is praying for those who draw near to Him! (Acts 2:33; Hebrews 7:25)
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. “ John 11: 25
After making that claim, Jesus asked Martha, Lazarus’ sister, ‘Do you believe this?”
Imagine Him asking you that question right now. What would your response be to the One Who knows you best? Do you truly believe that Jesus is the Son of God Who laid down His life as the perfect sacrifice, and thereby paid the penalty that your sin deserves? (Romans 6:23)
Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, and His words and His life reflected and proved His claim to be true. If you claim to follow Jesus, do your words and actions support that claim? Would your family and friends say, “Wow! She’s a Christian!” or “Wow, she’s a Christian?!”Are you clinging to His words and closely following in the path that He has laid out before you and called you to walk in? Are you daily ‘denying yourself and picking up your cross’—in other words, putting aside your own selfish will and desires and living for the desires and will of God? (Luke 9:23)
Or, are you following Jesus from a distance…like Peter did when the authorities arrested Jesus? From a distance, it was easy for Peter to deny Jesus. Do not be deceived: from a distance, it will be easy for you to deny Jesus too. While they were in Jesus’ Presence and before the reality of the cross, all of the disciples had claimed that they would follow Him, even if it meant their death. (Matthew 26:35) However, their claim was proven to be false because their faith was proven to be weak. They all abandoned Him rather than follow Him to the cross. Why? Because their fear of man was greater than their belief in Jesus, the Son of God and the Son of Man. Because they saw Jesus as their friend—even the Messiah— who was supposed to conquer and rule the world, but they had not yet seen Him as their personal Savior Who had died in their place, conquered death, and Who longed to reign in their hearts.
However, following his death and resurrection they saw and knew Him as the ‘Risen Savior’, which solidified their faith in Him and simultaneously diminished their fear of man. They knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus was the Son of God and the fulfillment of God the Father’s promise to send a Messiah to His people. The same men who had feared man and death prior to Jesus’ death and resurrection, would post-resurrection willingly lay down their lives for what they knew to be true and could not deny: the reality that Jesus is God, and the Way, the Truth and the Life! (John 14:6)
Do you know Jesus personally and experientially so that there is no doubt in your heart and mind that He is indeed God? Have you received the free gift of salvation and eternal life that He offers to all that humble themselves and believe that He paid the price for their sin and took on the death they deserve?
“And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” John 17:3
If you do not know Him, you can! Ask Him to reveal Himself to you and to give you a heart that seeks after Him. If you ask, He will answer! (Matthew 7:7)
“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13 “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” James 4:8 “Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” John 6:29 “Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24 “Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near.” Isaiah 55:6
May God grant us all hearts that seek after Him, believe in Him, receive His love, follow Him, and obey His word, proving ourselves to be His disciples!
Written by Julie Van Gorp