It’s a joyous time. It’s Spring, a time of new beginnings, a fresh start, the end of a gray, cold winter. Like the colorful candy eggs so associated with Easter, flowers burst forth delighting the soul. Screams of excitable children fill the air as they scurry about gleefully searching for those elusive, colorful, egg-shaped candies, hidden here and there by a mythical bunny.
But, next to a carved out tomb in the hills of Jerusalem there’s a totally different mood. Roman soldiers lay, as if dead, beside a large stone rolled in place to seal the tomb. Their charge was to guard the site just in case disciples of the dead man should come and attempt to steal the body. More importantly, they wanted to make sure the man remained dead and in the grave, for the man said, prior to His crucifixion, that His Father would raise Him from the grave in three days. (Click images to enlarge)
Just a good man or actually God?
It’s a pretty far-fetched idea of course that one would make such a claim and could actually pull it off, but then this man, who claimed to be the Son of God had done things no other person on earth had ever done. He is the promised Messiah of which the Bible prophetically speaks. His teaching and many miracles substantiated His claim. Additionally, He led a sinless life. He caused the lame to walk, the blind to see, the deaf to hear; He walked on water, controlled the weather, fed thousands with just a few fish and loaves of bread, and brought a man back to life who had been dead three days. So, when He arose from the dead as promised, there was nothing the Roman soldiers or anyone else could do that was going to stop Him. He is indeed the Son of God. His resurrection is just further proof.
When on earth, Jesus taught that man is spiritually dead and in need of salvation. It had not always been that way, for when man (Adam) was created, he was perfect, without sin, and given dominion over all the earth…only one stipulation…don’t eat the fruit of a certain tree, for on the day you eat, you will die. Lucifer, a fallen angel, who wanted to ascend to God’s place, likewise tempted Adam’s wife with the same appealing idea…Eat, and you’ll be like God. The temptation was too appealing to resist, so both Adam and his wife ate. At that moment man died morally and spiritually and began to die physically. Because Adam is the federal head/representative of all humanity, by imputation all humanity is guilty as well. As a result, we are born spiritually dead and are dying physically.
There are two kinds of people, those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, “All right then, have your way.”
When they disobeyed, a great gulf between man and God was created, a chasm so deep and broad that it can’t be traversed. Man needs a new identity, a federal head/representative in whom we can identify anew…someone who did not inherit Adam’s sin. Jesus, out of His love and mercy, came to call man to repentance from his sin, and to provide that new identity. “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which translated means, God with us. He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:23)
Who are His people?
To whom then does God’s individual, special, specific, sacrificial love apply? Does it apply to a person once close to me who said the pages of the Bible were only useful for toilet paper, or another who’s speech was littered with “Jesus Christ!”? Does it apply to a leader and participants of an LBGTQXYZ Parade who claimed if Jesus was here, He would be the parade’s grand marshal? Most American’s believe God loves everyone unconditionally and that just about everyone goes to heaven because we’re all basically good and doing our best. Go to just about any funeral and you’ll hear glowing reports of the deceased, regardless of the life they led…a common expression…”They’re in a better place.”
Well, the Bible teaches something quite different. It reveals a God of absolute righteousness and says of man, “There is no one righteousness, not one who does good, not one who seeks God.” Despite this, God extends His love to everyone in a general sense. Just think of all the benefits that come from life itself, but, God’s redemptive love through Christ is specific and special only to those that love and trust in the Son. “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to Him.” (John 14:21)
The road that leads home is narrow, but there are a thousand wide roads that lead into the wilderness and destruction.
Man doesn’t like the Gospel message because it indicts him of his sin, and he loves his sin. The Gospel message is just too narrow, too exclusive, authoritative, and judgmental. Man believes he can enter heaven on his own merit. In establishing his own standard for acceptance with God and what is required to enter heaven, he denies God, the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice, and makes himself out to be greater than God. Man has brought God down to his level and assesses Him accordingly. If we all make it to heaven on our own merit, God is not God. His standard of righteousness is nullified, and we need not concern ourselves with judgment. If God is only a God of love, as many believe, we can rest comfortably that He will overlook our frailties and “mistakes” and we can pretty much live as we want…and there was certainly no need for Jesus to come and offer Himself as a propitiation for man’s sin. But, whether we like it or not, God is God and His word stands unchanged. “The deeds of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21)
“The effect of sin is not only that it blinds the mind of man and makes it impervious to the evidence but also that it renders the heart of man utterly hostile to the evidence.”
(The Westminster Confession of Faith)
Of course, all this means nothing to the one who has little regard for God or the Bible, to those the Bible is irrelevant, full of myths, or at best, it contains some nice stories. If God exists at all, He is either all loving and forgiving, or mean, vindictive and unfair.
One hope, one God, one salvation
“If Scripture is the word of God, then obviously it must possess divine authority within itself, and if it does possess within itself divine authority, then it cannot and need not depend on anything else other than God.” (The Westminster Confession of Faith)
“If we confess our sins, God is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
“For there is one God and mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 2:5) When we repent of our sin and place our faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice, God gives us a new identity. We are no longer identified with Adam but now identified with Jesus and His righteousness. We become a new creation.
The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is more beautiful than any colorful candies, more satisfying and lasting than the taste of sugar, and infinitely more real than the Easter bunny. The best way to celebrate Easter is to receive the resurrection life that Jesus promises to all that place their faith and trust in Him, and Him alone.
If you’ve found this article convicting, even challenging, call upon the Lord Jesus to forgive and save you from eternal destruction. He will.