Easter Sunday has come and gone. As the sugar high wears off, we should take a chance to reflect.
What was it about?
Easter Bunny? White Crosses? Flowers? Going to church?
The more devout would answer that Jesus rose from the dead. But why?
Why did Jesus have to die?
Why would the God of the Universe submit himself to inhuman torture by one of the most cruel nations that ever existed? Why would God allow himself to be killed in one of the most barbaric and humiliating ways possible?
One of my favorite Bible passages about Jesus was written over 700 years before he was born. The prophet Isaiah wrote the following about Jesus’ suffering:
Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
The Apostle Peter repeats this in the New Testament:
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
(1 Peter 2:24-25)
Notice how little goodness we have to give God. We are nothing more than straying sheep. There is nothing — absolutely nothing — that we can give to God to earn his favor. (See also Titus 3:5)
But Jesus took all of this. Not because he was weak, but because he was the only one who could. All of this barbaric punishment, all of this blood and beating was meant for us. Jesus took the punishment that we deserve.
It would be just another tragedy if the story ended that Jesus died, but that is not the ending — Jesus is alive again!
That is what we celebrate at Easter — Jesus is alive!!!
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.
(1 Corinthians 15:20-21)