The chocolate eggs, rabbits and Easter cards have been with us since February, and now the time is almost here it will be to a lot of people be a big ‘so what’. Even many Christians are uncertain about it; the very word Easter has it roots in paganism and fertility rights, hence the eggs and the rabbits.
So, why do a whole load of Christians get excited about a pagan festival? I believe that it is all to do with meaning, the meaning and emotion that we attach to a word or season. The word Christmas for example is loaded with meaning, even the most hardened atheist can feel something at the thought of Christmas, the joy of the family getting together or the hedonistic delight of the office party. And so it is with Easter, we can attach anything or nothing to the word and the season.
As a young Christian I was nervous of anything that might lead me from the truth, and I was cautious about Easter’s pagan roots. But now, I don’t really care – not because I am into pagan worship or don’t believe in the immeasurable danger of worshipping anything or anyone but the Creator God; but because I am starting to get a handle on the enormity of what God did that Passover.
Every year the Jewish community celebrate the Passover feast, remembering how Yahweh delivered them from Pharaoh – the lambs blood on the door posts, the food, being ready to move out and how overnight they went from being slaves of an idolatrous tyrant to God’s free people. However, the thing that was hidden from everyone for the next 1500 years was that Israel’s Exodus was a signpost or shadow of the true reality that was to come through Jesus Christ.
Through Moses God took on a tyrant and destroyed him without lifting a sword; Israel’s deliverance was part of what God had promised Abraham (Gen 12:2-3, Rom 4:13), that He was going to bless the whole world through his descendant(s); and when God told the Satan that the Seed of the woman would crush his head (Genesis 3:15), God wasn’t just looking to rescue men and women from hell, He was going to rescue the whole cosmos from futility (Rom 8:20-21) and the way He did it left everybody guessing.
2,000 years ago Israel were desperate for their promised Messiah to come and crush Rome and put Israel on top, as the world’s true super power; they longed for God’s judgement to come and put everything right as the prophets had foretold. And you know what, God did; God took on evil face to face, but He sent His champion not to destroy Israel’s human enemies, but all mankind’s most mortal enemies, sin, death and their tyrant leader – Satan himself.
Whilst Israel was expecting God’s Messiah to come and administer the most extreme violence ever seen, He went ahead and fulfilled all the promises, but not on a battlefield, but a cross.
I don’t pretend to understand the mechanics of Calvary, but the Bible is adamant about what was achieved. Jesus died for our sins (1 Cor 15:3), He made Satan of no effect (Heb 2:14-15), He gave us peace with God (Romans 1:5-3) and healing for the whole person (Isaiah 53:5). What was impossible for man, God did!
I want to talk about the resurrection in my next post, but for now as we approach Easter, Passover, public holidays or whatever you call it, let me encourage you to attach the right thoughts to it. We are not approaching a wanna-be deity for better crops, we are not merely celebrating an Iron Age people being released from a tyrant; we are focusing on the reality that God through Jesus the Christ changed the course of all creation, visible and invisible, for all of eternity. Human history does not hinge on the so-called enlightenment, our technology or even the creation. All of history took an irreversible turn when a 1st century Jew, who was a tradesman and a rabbi, but who was also God incarnate, Israel’s Messiah and creations true Lord made a decision through literal blood, sweat and tears to become the world’s Passover Lamb (1 Cor 5:7-8); everything changed for ever when the only one who could justly judge with violence and destruction went to a cross and instead of giving it out, He took in Himself man’s violence and hatred of God, the power of sin, death and the curse, and made them of no effect.
For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (For rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person perhaps someone might possibly dare to die.) But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, because we have now been declared righteous by his blood, we will be saved through him from God’s wrath. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, since we have been reconciled, will we be saved by his life? Not only this, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received this reconciliation. Romans 5:6-7 tweet
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