What can often happen during holidays such as this – Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving – is that our expectations for the holiday are based on nostalgia. There is this mixture of happy sentiments, childhood memories and associations that tell us what Easter is supposed to be; how it should taste, sound, smell and feel. So as we celebrate, we are in some ways looking to either recreate or even out-do a previously experienced celebration.
But this week as the season of Lent ends and as we remember and celebrate the ultimate suffering, sacrifice and victory of Jesus on the cross, I am struck with how little it matters that my Easter “celebrations” live up to my expectations. It doesn’t matter how yummy the Easter feast is. It doesn’t matter if the easter egg hunt is moved indoors due to rain (or snow) or if the kids fight over getting an even number of easter eggs. It doesn’t matter if the worship team at church nails it or crashes and burns.
What makes this holiday special is not how we celebrate Easter. What makes Easter special is what we are celebrating. Two millennia ago the Son of God showed up on earth and voluntarily gave His life as an atoning sacrifice in my place and yours.
For the rest of this post, I simply want to look to scripture and ask “What did Jesus accomplish on the cross?” I would love to post dozens of passages and elaborate with my own thoughts on each one, but instead I will choose just a sampling of passages and let them speak for themselves. Why did Jesus die? What did his death and resurrection accomplish? How can these events from so long ago transform our lives today? As we celebrate Easter in a few days, let us allow the truth of the cross to grip our hearts and change us again, or for the first time.
Isaiah 53:5-6 (Read all of Isaiah 52:13-53:12) “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
Romans 3:21-25 “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.”
Ephesians 2:1-5 “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world…But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.”
1 Peter 1:18-19 “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”
So what did Jesus accomplish on the cross? Through the cross we have peace. We are healed. We are saved. We are made right with God. We are made alive, literally brought back to life. We are redeemed or bought back from the empty life apart from God.
Happy Easter. May the peace and presence of Christ be with you.