What does Easter mean to you?
For many, Easter means time with family. For others, Easter means chocolate – eggs or bunnies. Perhaps, for some, Easter has lost all meaning, and it’s just another moment to be exploited for profit or used for one’s enjoyment.
If this is what Easter means to you, you’re really missing out, for the true meaning of Easter is historically glorious, personally essential, and eternally valuable. The true meaning of Easter can be expressed in this fourfold way under the acrostic TRUE. I want you to consider the:
- Triumphant Act
- Risen Saviour
- Unavoidable Response
- Eternal Consequence
In His conversation with the religious leader, Nicodemus, Jesus Christ said He ‘must be lifted up‘. This act of being ‘lifted up’ takes our minds immediately to that central cross, upon which we see the Messiah hanging, nailed by His hands and feet. Beaten, bruised, mocked and scorned, this is a most pitiful sight. Then the scene is covered in darkness … for three long hours … it seems a most ignominious end for One who preached with authority, healed the sick and even raised the dead! But … as the darkness clears we hear from His lips, distinctly, triumphantly, one word: “Finished“.
This was not defeat. Not a bit of it. This heroic act of self-sacrifice was the climax of God’s great plan of redemption. At the beginning, when man first sinned, God told the adversary, Satan, that a promised ‘seed’ of the woman would one day engage in battle and ‘bruise thy head’ though ‘thou shalt bruise his heel’.
After Jesus Christ rose in triumph from the grave, it was clear that the death of Christ on the cross, was indeed a fulfilment of this very first prophesy, ‘that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage’.
Immediately, the reality of this victory was evidenced in the lives of the disciples. Upon the arrest and execution of Jesus Christ, the disciples had locked themselves away, fearful they too would be arrested and put to death. This fear of death is natural, for the Bible explains that our ‘conscience also bearing witness’ that we ‘have sinned’ and we know that ‘the wages of sin is death’. Death then is something to be feared, for it condemns us to the judgment we deserve.
But, having seen ‘Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified’, now raised in ‘the power of an endless life’, these disciples no longer fear death. Out into the streets of Jerusalem they went, to face the very people who put Jesus to death, boldly proclaiming that ‘this Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses’. What made the difference? It was that Christ’s death and resurrection gave them a righteous basis that their sins were forgiven. Death was no longer a condemnation to God’s judgment, but a passing into God’s presence.
This hope and assurance can also be yours, but only through Jesus Christ, for the Word of God promises that ‘for us also, righteousness shall be imputed, if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification’.
Upon hearing the unalterable facts, ‘how that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, and was buried, and rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures’, the people of that day and generation were faced with an unavoidable response. Thousands who were eyewitnesses to Jesus’ death, indeed, who called for Jesus’ death, now, just fifty days later, recognised this, crying out ‘what shall we do?’. Peter called them to repent of their sin and trust in Jesus Christ. Three thousand did and they were gloriously saved!
The rulers, on the other hand, hearing the same message, and seeing the evidence of real change in the life, hope and joy of the believers, hardened their hearts, and responded with threats and violence. Not wanting to bow to the authority of Jesus Christ as Lord, and not willing to repent, they clung stubbornly to their own ways, and in doing so they perished … eternally.
And this is what gives the Easter message its true meaning. For while the death and resurrection of Christ happened at a moment in time, it was eternal in its origin and eternal in its object.
The death of Christ was not some mistake, but as we’ve already considered, the focal point of God’s dealings with us from eternity and to eternity. It began in eternity when God ‘the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world’, and he did this because He loved you ‘with an everlasting love’, that you ‘should not perish, but have eternal life’.
A glorious victory has been won. An eternal provision has been made, and you can enjoy eternal salvation this moment by simply believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. You could also decide to enjoy the moment, the family, and the chocolate, but how foolish it would be if a momentary decision to ignore the true meaning of Easter ended in our eternal destruction, for ‘he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him’.