I’ve observed many Easter celebrations over the years- pretty spring dresses, family gatherings complete with ham and deviled eggs and Easter eggs hunts, Passover seders and Good Friday services. The reason we celebrate Easter has always been there, but I have heard the story so many times I tend to move past it without much of a thought.
So why do we celebrate Easter? Why did Jesus have to come at all, what made His sacrifice on the cross necessary?
I picked up John Piper’s book today called “Fifty Reasons Jesus Came to Die”, as Kristin has it on our coffee table and I needed to fill a few moments. Piper’s words at the beginning struck a cord as we move toward Easter in a few weeks.
“If God were not just, there would be no demand for his Son to suffer and die. And if God were not loving, there would be no willingness for his Son to suffer and die. But God is both just and loving. Therefore his love is willing to meet the demands of his justice”.
I normally like to think I am a pretty good person. I remember once my youth pastor wanted the youth group to decide who was “the best” person at our meeting, the most holy I guess you could say. They picked me. But my ‘goodness’ does not match the perfect standard of our just God. Any time that we preference something over God, we sin. We dishonor the Creator of the Universe by loving things more than Him. I am so quick to turn to other earthly pleasures before Christ.
Piper said, “We will never stand in awe of being loved by God until we reckon with the seriousness of our sin and the justice of his wrath agains us”.
If you want to understand the depths of your depravity, the seriousness of your sin, move overseas. At least for me, I was able to put on a good front and keep all the ugliness in my heart in check while I was in America (at least a good portion of the time), but somehow being thrown into a foreign culture, dealing with all kinds of new and often unpleasant things, the sin in my heart seems to spill over. How often I choose my own way rather than God’s way! How often I react in anger/frustration rather than love, walk right past someone caught up in my own problems or thoughts and give up an opportunity to speak a kind word or be the light of Christ.
But God loves me, a sinner in need of His grace. From the depths of sin we can see the gift with fresh eyes. Salvation is not just our ticket to heaven but rather a glorious invitation to be loved and in a relationship with the Creator and Sovereign King, who longs for each man, woman and child to choose to honor Him by loving Him above all else.
As we journey toward another Easter celebration, I want to look with open eyes at the gift of salvation we have and the enormity of God’s grace poured out through the death and resurrection of Jesus.