Today is Easter, the day Christians will celebrate the apex of their faith, the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul concisely summarized Easter’s message when he said in I Corinthians 15:3-5:
“I delivered to you as of first importance … that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas (Peter), then to the 12, after that he appeared to over 500 brethren at one time.”
More than 2,000 years later, the message is still the same. Christianity worships in awe at the foot of the cross, finding transcendent meaning in Christ’s death followed by joy, strength and comfort in the power of his resurrection.
Christians believe that sin crouches at humanity’s door, inhibiting communication with God. To re-establish communication with a perfectly holy God, a sacrifice was needed to pay for the people’s sins, and a mediator was needed between God and man. The idea of a mediator for Jews like Jesus and his followers was not new; the Jewish high priest mediated sacrifices for sin between God and man, yearly, on the Jewish Day of Atonement.
So it is not surprising to Christians when the Gospels teach that this Messiah’s death would mediate sin between God and man, ransom the sins of the world and fulfill God’s promise to Abraham that all nations, both Jew and gentile, would be blessed through him.
The twist here is that God sent his “only begotten son” in human form — the co-creator of the world — as Messiah and Savior. Christ’s experience of good and evil on Earth meant that those who sought salvation by faith in him would find comfort that God could intimately empathize with and understand life’s hopes, fears and anguishes, because Christ knew what it was like to be human. Moreover, the Savior’s gruesome death is a reminder of life’s fragility, man’s need for God and the brutal cost of sin upon all humanity.
If Christ’s death testifies to the cost of sin in this world, then his resurrection portrays the power of God’s grace and mercy for salvation. The greatest awe and mystery for Christians pondering the Messiah’s death is this: the hopelessness of death surprisingly burst into life.
The power of Christ’s resurrection revealed the promise of eternal life and spiritual riches that inspires greater love for God and a new, God-centered existence on Earth for his followers. These gifts are why Christ’s death upon the cross and his resurrection are cornerstones of the Christian faith. These gifts are also the reason so much joy is expressed by Christians on Easter morning, and why churches around the world echo today with the refrains of “He is risen” followed by, “He has risen, indeed.”
Easter is an excellent day to reflect on life’s fragility, as well as how love, redemption, forgiveness and mercy might be better worked out in our lives and extended to others. It is also a good day to gratefully acknowledge the resurrection theme that plays throughout our own lives, at those traumatic crossroads we sometimes reach when hope dies, only to burst forth again with greater joy, strength and comfort than we could ever possibly imagine.
We wish you a blessed Easter.