Sunday, March 31, 2013

Resurrection Day! Does it matter?

Today is Easter.  Resurrection Day.  Kids are eating Easter eggs and candy that the bunny left in their baskets last night.  But, while Christians may participate in this, they know the real reason for celebration today.  Today we celebrate that Jesus has risen from the tomb.  To someone who doesn't believe in Christ, they may not understand the significance of his resurrection. 

First of all, why did Jesus have to die in the first place?  His coming was prophesied all the way back in the book of Genesis after Adam and Eve sinned in the garden.  God had prepared a plan for the salvation of the world.  "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel." Gen 3:15  This speaks of a coming Savior who will deliver a death blow to Satan.

In the Old Testament, Hebrews were directed by God to make sacrifices to cover their sins.  They were instructed to kill an unblemished lamb.  Why?  The penalty of sin is death.    "For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement."  Leviticus 17:11  This was a foreshadowing of the sacrifice of the perfect Lamb, Jesus.  When John the Baptist saw Jesus coming to be baptized, he said, "Behold!  The Lamb of God!" 

Jesus lived a sinless life, being tempted in all ways as are common to man.  He was the real Unblemished Lamb.  He laid down his life for the payment of our sins.  He was in full control.  No Jew or Roman soldier took his life from him.  When He walked the earth, people tried to kill Him, more than once.  He said, "My time has not yet come."  He knew he had a date with death.  That date was Passover.  The Levites were commanded to select a spotless lamb on the 11th of Nisan, three days before Passover.  Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the 10th of Nissan on a donkey.  The people cried out, "Hosanna!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord"  This means that they were ready to crown Him as Messiah.  He fulfilled prophecy perfectly when he came riding into town on a donkey.  "Rejoice, O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem! Look, your king is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding on a donkey--riding on a donkey's colt."  Only, three days later, they would be crying, "Crucify him!"  And as the Passover lamb was being slaughtered in the temple on Passover, Jesus, the real Passover Lamb was killed on the cross.  When he died, he said, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit."  He gave up his life. 

Three days later, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to the tomb where he was laid to prepare his body.  It was empty!  They didn't understand what happened.  They thought the Roman soldiers who were guarding the tomb moved His body.  But the men they saw were not Roman soldiers at all.  They were angels.  The angels said, "Why are you looking for the living among the dead?  For He has risen as he said!"

The fact that Jesus rose from the dead proves that God accepted his payment in full.  Christ triumphed over sin and death.  This validates what Jesus said when he cried out on the cross "It is finished!"  Paul said in the book of Hebrews, "And when sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices."  In fact, at the moment of Jesus's death, the curtain in the temple was torn from top to bottom.  The veil was no mere curtain.  It was approximately sixty feet high and four inches thick.  Once a year, the priest was allowed in the the holy place (where God dwelt)  to make an offering for sin.  When Jesus died, this veil that separated man from God was torn from TOP to bottom.  Not the other way around.  Meaning it was done by God Himself.  There was no longer a need to make offerings for our sin.  Jesus did it all.  And through Jesus' sacrifice, we have access to God. 

Have you accepted Jesus' payment for your sins?  Without it, you do not have access to God.  Your sins are not forgiven.  For God says, "At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you." Indeed, the "right time" is now. Today is the day of salvation." 2 Cor 6:2

Ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins.  There is no other way to God.  Today, I will rejoice that my Savior has triumphed over death and my sins have been forgiven!