Easter Sunday is almost here. Our culture celebrates with eggs, the symbol of new life. And with bunnies, the symbol of fertility. And with lilies and other flowers, the symbol of springtime renewal. And with 30 pounds of chocolate per person and fancy new clothes, the symbols of a consumer society obsessed with gluttony and covetousness.
Oh yes, and some folks continue to include in their Easter celebration the curious story about the God-man who died but then came back to life three days later. This is also a symbol of new life and springtime renewal.
This curious tale about the God-man coming back to life fits in nicely with our seasonal theme: springtime renewal. The dark, cold, and dreary season of Winter finally gives way to the sunlight and colors and new life of Spring.
But what if that curious story is actually true? Oh, come on. We don’t take those things literally anymore. This is the 21th century, for cryin’ out loud. We’re a little too shrewd and scientific to fall for that kind of stuff.
But what if it IS true?
What if there really is a personal God who created the universe? What if He really designed and created us with a specific purpose in mind? Wow, that would actually give some real meaning to our lives, rather than the superficial meaning we try to create for ourselves with our consumer spending and our frantic struggle to achieve some recognition.
And what if this personal God loved us so much that He grieved over the fact that we ignored Him and decided to worship ourselves instead? What if He loved us so much that He sent His only begotten Son to bridge that huge gulf created by sin? And what if that Son offered His own life as a sacrifice to pay the price for our sins? And, most of all, what if He actually rose from the dead three days later, conquering death once and for all?
Sounds kind of fantastic, doesn’t it? But what if it really is true? That would be wonderful, wouldn’t it? That would mean death is not the final chapter of our lives. That would mean the cruelest irony of life—the fact that everything we ever achieve in this world is destined to be swallowed up by death—is no longer true.
Well, I’ve got some good news for you. It IS true! The God who created us loves us way too much to let death have the final victory. That curious story about the God-man coming back to life is not an ancient fable; it is a fact. It is the central event in the whole history of humanity.
When we finally realize what Jesus did for our sake, often our first reaction is to ask what we should do to repay Him for such a great sacrifice. Many religious organizations have created vast and elaborate systems for doing good deeds in an attempt to repay Him for what He did for us.
But how can you possibly repay such a sacrifice? We can’t repay Jesus for what He did. What He did was His gift to us. (Imagine if you gave someone a birthday present and he immediately whipped out his checkbook and said, “OK, how much do I owe you?” How rude!)
All we can do is accept the gift Jesus gave us with profound gratitude and humility. When we do this, the good deeds will follow, not because we have to do them, but because we want to do them.
That curious Easter story is not just one little facet of a springtime holiday. It is the most important event ever. It is our path to eternal life. He is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!