This weekend as we celebrate Easter, we are provided with a wonderful opportunity to deeply consider its significance. Even though it may not be spent the way we are used to or would have expected, the current situation presents us with a great opportunity to engage our minds with regards to this Christian event that holds more significance than we may know.
Today’s article on Easter has been written by a good friend called Geoffrey Kimani. In this article, he endeavours to answer a very critical question which is at the core of the reason why we are celebrating during this season. Having personally read through it, I have no doubt that it is edifying and spiritually refreshing. It is my hope that you will also be refreshed as you read.
Certainly, giving serious thought to why we celebrate Easter raises a number of questions not only among Christians who are celebrating the death and resurrection of Christ but also among non-believers who look at Christians with an element of surprise as they greatly rejoice upon their blessed and risen Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Being that Easter is meant to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, I believe that the most critical question we ought to ask ourselves is: Did Jesus have to die? Was God not powerful enough to find an alternative way through which He could reconcile man to Himself?
To answer this, we need to intently look at Scripture because that is where we find answers to all of life’s questions. In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, we are reminded that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work”.
God, The Righteous Creator
The Bible begins with the account of creation. In Genesis 1:2 , we are told that at the onset, the earth was “formless and empty”. We are further told that God created all there is and all that we see today. He designed and fashioned the universe with all its intricacies. At the climax of creation, God created man in His own image and likeness and charged him to care for the rest of creation.
As we consider this, it is interesting to note that the Bible does not begin with making a case for the existence of God or explaining who He is. Instead, it begins by talking about creation and how all creation came to be. It makes it clear that creation, unlike God has not always been there.
From this, we see the otherness of God – that God is separated from His creation. He defined the beginning and neither time nor space can limit Him. He is altogether glorious — unequalled in splendour and unrivalled in power. That is why He says in Isaiah 46:5: “To whom will you liken me and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be alike?”.
Though God is eternal, immortal and unfathomable, He is also personal. He did not just create the world and then take a back seat and let the world run itself as deists believe. On the contrary, God has always been involved and continues to be involved in what is going on. He created man, gave him instructions and even after the Fall of man, He provided a solution.
In the Bible, the first instance where God describes Himself is found in the book of Exodus. In Exodus 34:6-7, Moses asks God to show him His glory and God’s response is utterly profound. In response, God says:
“The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”
From His response, it is worth noting that in this instance, God chooses not to proclaim the splendour of His creation in as much as He is entitled to. Instead, He is personal; He talks of His mercies and grace, His steadfast love and His justice.
Therefore, having established that God is the creator of all things, it is clear that man is accountable to God. This means that each one of us shall give an account to God on the Day of Judgement for He is Our Creator.
With that in mind, we see later on in Leviticus 19:2 that God requires holiness from us. Here, God says: “Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.”
Man The Sinner
Having established that man is accountable to God, and that God requires us to be holy just as He is holy, we now come to where things went south – The Fall of man. In Genesis chapter 3, Adam and Eve rebelled against God’s instruction not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Now this is where the problem begins. With the Fall of man, sin entered into the world and separated man from God. Remember, as we saw earlier, God is holy. Thus, it is this sin that separates us from God even today. We all have a sinful nature and we are all prone to wander away from God.
Many a preacher of modern days has done a great disservice by preaching and teaching from the premise that man is good and only struggles with sin because the world is bad. As we are going to see in a short while, that is contrary to what we see the Holy Scriptures say.
In Jeremiah 17:9, the Bible clearly says that, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”. In addition, not long after the Fall of man and after the flood in Noah’s time, God says that, “every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood.” – Genesis 8:21. From this we can see that the premise that man is good is outrightly wrong!
Yet another folly, which may be greater than the former, is the loose definition of sin. Many have watered down sin to be mistakes, errors or something which man can engage in and quickly come out of by some trivial confession.
Many have not even dared to delve into explaining the deceitfulness of sin. Consider this: sin is not sin because of how we have defined it – “a mistake or series of mistakes with varying magnitude”. Rather, sin is monstrous because of the One against whom it is committed – God almighty.
Therefore, sin is equal to cosmic treason. Up to this point, we must agree that man is in a bad place. He is an enemy to God and an object of wrath if he continues in his waywardness. One cannot help but wonder – who will make a case for the man before his righteous Creator? Surely, at this point one can only cry out as Job did – for an arbiter, an advocate. one who would stand between God and himself.
Jesus the Reconciler
Yes! One cannot help, after the dismal situation man is in, but gladly look upon Christ our blessed Saviour. John says He (Christ) is our advocate with the Father! The writer of Hebrews in chapter 4: 15-16 calls us to draw to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and grace in a time of need. This comes after we are told that Christ is our High Priest, who is able to sympathize with us in our weaknesses.
Now, Christ, being fully God and fully man was able to achieve salvation for man and justice for God. Man did not just receive mercy and grace and forgiveness from God while his sin was swept under the rag. No, our sin was dealt with squarely on the cross where Christ was crucified.
That is why Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Let that sink for a minute as we also consider what Paul said in Galatians 3:13: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”.
Greg Gilbert, the author of a book titled “What is The Gospel” says, “God his Father, who is holy and righteous, whose eyes are too pure even to look on evil, looked at his Son, saw the sins of his Son’s people resting on his shoulders, turned away in disgust, and poured out his wrath on his own Son.”
This happened so that you and I would be called sons of God. This is what is referred to as the great exchange – He became sin so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God! Thus, the cost of my sin and your sin was laid on Christ. The Son was separated from the Father for the first time in eternity!
Through this, Jesus did not just accomplish salvation for us – something else happened. The justice of God was achieved when God’s wrath was satisfied, an aspect least spoken about in regards to His death. Now we can see that our sin was not just forgiven and conveniently swept under the rag, but was dealt with. Justice was served when sin was paid for through Christ who received our due punishment.
That is why Paul and John peculiarly use the word “just” or its variance when speaking of God dealing with our sin. Consider Romans 3:23-24: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”. Also, 1 John 1:8-9 says that, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
The use of the word justified by Paul and just by John is astounding. How would an offender be comfortable when they hear that justice will be served to them or they are dealing with a God who is just? Can they?
In conclusion, we must ask – how do we respond to this? To the believer, meditate upon such things and pray that your meditation on God’s kindness and mercy will be sweet. Deeply reflect on the gift of salvation you have and delight yourself in God. Be eager also to preach Christ to those who are yet to come to a knowledge of Him. Always be prepared to give a reason for the hope that is in you – 1 Peter 3:15.
Are you reading but are a non-believer? As you consider this discourse, look into Christ’s word in John 15:13: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” There has never been and never will be a greater love than this. God already gave His own Son so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life – John 3:16.
You might ask, what then shall I do? In Acts 3:19-20, Peter gives a very clear answer: “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus.”
Do you want times of refreshing and rest from God? Turn from your sin for God showed his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us – Romans 5:8. What are you waiting for? The price has been paid!