It’s that time of the year! Christians around the world practice all sorts of traditions that range from solemn, 40-day fasting and prayer, the observance of lent, and being more intentional about carrying out spiritual disciplines to having Easter egg hunts and eating bunny shaped chocolates and marshmallows.
Some of us have apps on our phones that give us daily devotionals leading up to Easter, while others of us are practicing every night for the big Easter musical production. Whatever position you may be in—whether you’re up to your neck with event preparation or nervously wondering if you should invite your friends to your church this Sunday, here are some things to think and ponder over as we remember the real reason these dates are so significant to our faith:
1. What does the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ mean to me?
Have you ever wondered what this world would be like if Jesus hadn’t died? Or worse yet, if He had died but never resurrected? Christianity would basically be the biggest joke on the planet. Thankfully, we know that Jesus is alive today, and many of us have personally experienced Him in our own lives!
Take a minute to think about the enormity of what Christ did—how He willingly gave Himself over to the authorities right after He asked the Father to “let this cup pass Him by” (Matthew 26). Being the only man who had ever led a sinless life, He then went through the most horrible physical torture imaginable, and as if that wasn’t enough, finally took upon Himself the sins of the entire world as He hung on that cross and said, “It is finished.”
2. “Nothing puts life into men like a dying Savior.” –Charles Spurgeon
We all fall prey to our fleshly desires at some point or another. Our human nature drives us to chase after money, possessions, power, fame, admiration, etc. But everyone who has been there can testify that the feeling of emptiness only grows bigger and more overwhelming with the increase of worldly success. Sooner or later, we are bound to crash and burn.
Not so with Christ. He is the only goal we can pursue that will end in abundant life. When we are exhausted, deflated, frustrated, discouraged, and dead inside, Jesus is the only One who is able to fill us anew—refresh and rejuvenate us with life, peace, and joy—because of what He did when He died for us on that Roman cross.
3. “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” –Jesus (Matthew 16:24-25)
Not many of us are too fond of this verse. It isn’t easy to “deny ourselves.” In fact, most of us are more like the rich young ruler than we’d care to admit—more willing to walk away from eternal life with our heads hanging low, than to sell all our possessions to follow Jesus.
What we often fail to realize is that in being unwilling to surrender completely to Christ, we are slowly wasting away. Much of the struggles in the Christian life is about stretching the part where we “try to save our lives” for as long as possible, before we recognize we need Jesus to step in. And just as He promised, we find life when we finally relinquish our control to Him.
Jesus did not want to die on the cross, but He did it anyway and today, He sits at the right hand of the Father. In the same spirit, we ought to pick up our cross and follow Him. The longer we try to avoid losing our lives, the further we stray from our Savior, and the more lost we become.
4. “Christ did not die to forgive sinners who go on treasuring anything above seeing and savoring God. And people who would be happy in heaven if Christ were not there, will not be there. The gospel is not a way to get people to heaven; it is a way to get people to God.” –John Piper
We need to be careful when we throw around statements like, “Believe in Jesus if you want to get to heaven!” Jesus didn’t say, “No one gets to heaven except through Me.” Instead, He said, “No one gets to the Father except through Me.” Our goal is not heaven—it is eternal fellowship with God, which happens to be in heaven.
Eternal life is not about the venue of where we end up after our physical death, but about Whom we spend it with. Eternity in heaven is life because of God’s presence, while eternity in hell is death because of God’s absence. God’s love for us led to Jesus dying on the cross for us, because God knows that He is the best thing for us.
5. “May I never lose the wonder/The wonder of the cross/May I see it like the first time/Standing as a sinner lost/Undone by mercy and left speechless/Watching wide eyed at the cost/May I never lose the wonder/The wonder of the cross.” –Vicky Beeching, The Wonder of the Cross
Here’s a challenge to each of us as we celebrate Easter this Sunday, and more importantly, as we move forward with our lives after the festivities. It’s easy to take our salvation for granted when we forget the price that Christ had to pay for our redemption. But that is just the recipe that is needed to make us into a bunch of lackadaisical and lukewarm Christians, and we cannot afford to let that happen!
Let us not forget that we are in a constant spiritual battle against the powers of darkness. Satan’s favorite people are Christians who have lost their passion for God. So may we never lose the wonder of the cross, and may we always see it like the first time we saw our sinfulness in light of Jesus’ righteousness—regardless of what time of the year it is—so that our love and adoration for Him will shine in the darkness, that others may see and come to know Jesus as well.
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