Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
We know the word ‘Easter’, but what does it actually mean? I think a lot of people are aware it has something to do with religion and church, and that there is a long weekend—but is it a celebration?
One person said, It’s all about that rising from the dead stuff. Nearly a billion people will celebrate Easter again this year—so we are talking something big-time here. Obviously it is more than chocolates, Easter eggs or hot cross buns.
Maybe the true meaning is ignored through the sheer busyness of life, or the pressures we are living under. The Easter long weekend has become a welcome holiday weekend, getting away with the family or friends to somewhere quiet. While Easter is often misunderstood and over-commercialised, it’s the one event that can change your life—we want forgiveness and freedom to have a life that is not gripped by fear.
Big Questions About Easter
The question may be asked, What’s the big deal about Easter anyway?
Over 2,000 years ago an event took place in the Middle East that made it possible for our lives to be changed. Jesus Christ was crucified, and rose from the grave two days later. It was an event that proved that Jesus was who he claimed to be. He is God in the flesh and he came to earth to save us. A lot of people say, “I believe in the resurrection. I just don’t understand it.” George Gallup did a poll a few years ago that said that even 84 percent of the people who never go to church, believe that Jesus rose from the dead.
It’s an historical fact. It wasn’t done in secret. The whole city of Jerusalem knew about it and eventually the whole Roman Empire. It was news! There are at least 15 historical references to Jesus meeting people, touching people, talking with people. One time he cooked breakfast for some people. Another time he talked to about 500 people after he had risen from the dead. A lot of people saw him.
You may ask, What do I need to be saved from?
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What do I need to be saved from?
The reason Jesus died on a cross was to save us from our sin, to pay the penalty for it so that we would not have to. Jesus came to earth and willingly went through a trial where phoney charges were brought up against him and he was sentenced to death. Was this something God did not count on? No, it was part of his plan. His accusers didn’t like his claim to be the Son of God. They decided he was worthy of death.
All of us have to make up our minds about Jesus. You either believe he is a liar, a lunatic or he is exactly who he claimed to be. That’s why Jesus willingly went through a trial, to prove who he really was. He said, “I didn’t come to judge the world, but to save it.” He could have stopped the trial, but the cross was part of the plan, dying to pay the penalty of your sin and mine, so that we could be forgiven.
The next day Jesus was crucified, a very cruel death. His arms were stretched out and he was literally nailed to a cross. After you have been on a cross for a while, your muscles tighten up, it’s hard to breathe. But Jesus experienced all that in order to pay the price of our sin. And then he died.
Easter Comes Down to Two Things
You may ask, Why in the world would he allow himself to die on a cross?
Because he alone was able to pay for your sins. You deserved the punishment, but Jesus paid the penalty for you. Jesus’ body was put in a tomb, but being God he didn’t stay there. Jesus arose from the dead. No human can do that! The great news of Easter is that Jesus is alive today! By arising from the dead he proved who he is.
You may ask again, So what does this have to do with me? What does it mean for the average person today?
Well, in one sense, Jesus is still on trial today. He’s on trial in the hearts and minds of every person who has not yet acknowledged him as the Son of God, the Saviour of the world. The question is, what’s your verdict? You see, Easter comes down to two things:
- Is Jesus who he says he is? Is he God? Or is he a lunatic or a liar?
- If he is who he says he is, will you receive him as your God, your Saviour? Are you willing to gamble your life that he was wrong?
What We Can Do in Easter
The thing is, we all need an anchor. We live in a pretty scary world and likely in your life there are some fears you’d like to be rid of. But some of the first words an angel said after Jesus arose from the dead was, “Do not be afraid”. When Jesus met up with people after he arose, he too said, “Do not be afraid”.
We call fear by many names: stress, tension and anxiety. The thing is, God doesn’t want you to be afraid. Ephesians 3:12 says, “In Christ we can come before God with freedom and without fear. We can do this through faith in Christ Jesus.”
Jesus will loosen the grip of fear on your life if you’ll do three things:
- Accept God’s love for you. He loves you so much that he sent his only Son to die in your place, for your sin. He arose so that one day you could conquer death and know heaven. He did it all, because he loves you more than anything else.
- Believe that Jesus died and rose for you. Take a step of faith, no matter how small your faith may be right now and choose to believe that if you were the only person on earth, Jesus would still have died and arisen for you.
- Commit your fears and life to Christ. People are so afraid today because they place their trust in the wrong places. But when you commit yourself to Christ with a sincere heart, he claims you. He forgives you. He releases you from the grip of fear on your life and gives you hope.