Amidst the bunny rabbits and chocolate eggs sometimes the message of Easter gets lost. Many people are too busy packing the car on Thursday night (often just to sit in traffic streaming out of Sydney!) to take the time to think why we have this public holiday every year. Of course, for Christians Easter is the most important celebration of all. In fact, whenever we meet together, every week of the year we celebrate Easter. At Easter time we remember the death of the Son of God. On the one hand this is one of the most horrible events in history, where mankind showed its rejection of God once and for all! However, the Christian understands that, even in the horror of that day, something incredible was happening – Jesus was dying and facing the awful judgement of his Father so that we didn’t have to. His death was in our place. 1 Peter 3:18 describes it in this way:
For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.
We can be certain of God’s love and forgiveness because Jesus has paid the price that we owed for our sin. That is why it is called Good Friday.
Of course, the message of Easter doesn’t end on Good Friday. On the Sunday after he died, Jesus’ friends went to the tomb where he had been laid, only to find that the stone had been rolled away and he wasn’t there. He then appeared to Peter, the other disciples and over 500 people. Jesus had defeated death and his resurrection declares him to be the Son of God.
However, the resurrection is not just about Jesus. It also shows what we have to look forward to. One day Jesus will return and we too will be raised from the dead. The resurrection shows us that death is not the end and that our hope goes beyond the grave. While this sounds good, it also strikes a note of warning. Jesus tells us that some will be raised to eternal life and some to eternal destruction – and our fate rests on our response to him. Eternal life is for those who turn from their sin and believe in Jesus. As a result, the message of Easter is not just to be celebrated by Christians – it is to be declared to all people. As Jesus said:
I am the way, the truth, and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.