What’s the big deal about Easter?
Perhaps as you’ve scrolled through your news feed over the past several days, you’ve been pondering that question a lot. Why all of these posts? Why all of these events? Why all of this invitation to go to church to worship on Easter Sunday?
What is the big deal with all of this?…
For Christians, there is no day of the year greater in importance, impact, and power than Easter Sunday. Tomorrow, we celebrate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ – what Christians believe to be the greatest event in all human history. Why do we believe this? Why do we declare this? Why do we invite and exhort others to gather in order to celebrate and worship on this magnificent day?
Easter is about faith. The resurrection of Jesus proves that He is the Son of God, that the promises of God as given by Scripture are true, and that, in the resurrection of Jesus, our own future resurrection from the dead is secure and certain (1 Cor. 15:20; 1 Thes. 4:13-18). Jesus also declared that He is the way, the truth, and the life and that no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). What does it mean to come to the Father “through Him?” Faith – to place our faith in Him. Jesus said in John 5:24, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” Again, in John 6:40, He said, “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” Easter is about celebrating and sharing the power of saving faith placed in those promises.
Easter is about hope. The resurrection of Jesus secures hope for every person. Death is not the end of our story. And our faults and failures are not the story of our lives. In Jesus, there is hope that transcends our own fears and struggles. Have you made big mistakes? You’re not alone. Romans 3:23 reminds us that we have ALL made big mistakes. But we are not just the sum of our mistakes. Jesus declared again and again that He came to save all who would believe and trust in Him (John 3:16-17). Do you feel overwhelmed by the sorrows, pain, and despair of the world around you – and by your own futility in trying to change or overcome it? There is hope for those overwhelmed by darkness in the message of Easter. Jesus told His followers, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 ESV). Easter is about the hope of a new life and a new future found in salvation achieved and secured by the atoning death, temporary burial, and victorious resurrection of Christ. Jesus declared His mission to save. Jesus declared His power to save. And the resurrection proves both.
Easter is about love. Jesus did not go to the cross of Calvary because the religionists would stop at nothing to get him there. Jesus didn’t go to Calvary because the Roman soldiers forced him to walk those agonizing, miserable, humiliating steps. Jesus didn’t go to Calvary because Judas Iscariot betrayed Him and the rest of His followers fled. Jesus didn’t go to Calvary because Satan forced His hand. Jesus didn’t go to Calvary in weakness, fear, desperation, conformity, bitterness, hatred, or hopelessness.
Jesus went to Calvary in love.
Love for who? Love for sinners far and wide – the fallen, the hopeless, the broken, the weary, and the despairing. Love for those who failed Him. Love for those who betrayed Him. Love for those who opposed Him. Love for those who stood in the crowd. Love for those far away from the crowd. Love for those then living. Love for those not yet born. Love for you and love for me.
As Dr. Kent Hughes wrote in his magnificent commentary, ‘In the Incarnation he stripped himself of his glory so he could wash us clean. He is our servant-Savior. Though we have raised our heel against him, though we have been Ahithophels, he offers his eternal friendship. He stretches his arms out on the cross to embrace us.’[i]
In spite of the opposition, in spite of the betrayal, in spite of the pain, the misery, and the agony of it all – Jesus went to the cross of Calvary because of His love for us and His desire to save us. Two wrongs don’t make a right. That which is broken and imperfect can’t substitute for something else which is broken and imperfect. Jesus went to Calvary because He was the only one who could. In all of world history there has lived only one perfect man: Jesus of Nazareth, the Lord Jesus Christ. Only He could die a perfect, sinless death to atone for an imperfect, fallen, hopeless, sin-sick world. And He willingly paid that death in our place and on our behalf. His crucifixion paid our debt; His resurrection secured our victory.
That, dear friend, is what Easter is all about.
And that is why your Christian friends – brothers and sisters in Jesus who love and care deeply about you – invite you to join them in worship tomorrow. You can join me and our church family at Swiss Colony Baptist Church or you can join with many other bodies of believers all across the world who will gather together tomorrow to celebrate the glorious gift of new life and salvation rooted in the faith, hope, and love found in an empty tomb and the victorious Savior who rose from it on Easter Sunday.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:16-17)
“When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’
‘O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?’
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”(1 Corinthians 15:54-57 ESV)
[i] R. Kent Hughes, Luke: That You May Know the Truth, Preaching the Word (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1998), 312.