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What Is the Meaning of Easter?

by Jeanne Gowen Dennis

What is the meaning of Easter? Does it exist so we can delight in daffodils, bunnies, and newborn chicks? Do we celebrate so we can welcome the beauty of spring with decorated eggs and chocolate bunnies?

No, Easter commemorates the unfathomable kindness of God. A love so deep it can break the heart of the most hardened sinner. A victory so decisive it shook hell to its foundation. A hope so sure it fills believers with glorious, unspeakable joy (1 Pet. 1:8–9).

It All Started in a Garden

In order to truly understand Easter, we have to go back to the first garden. Here the Creator of all, the eternal God, placed the first man and his wife. He provided everything they needed, including intimate fellowship with himself.

God had only one rule. He warned the couple not to eat fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The devil tempted and deceived the woman, and thinking they knew better than God, they disobeyed. Just as all people have disobeyed ever since. That first sin broke humankind’s communion with God.

But God had a plan to restore our fellowship with Him. He would do it through one man’s offspring.

Abraham and His Children

God chose Abraham and made him the father of many nations. Through him, God promised to send a redeemer to bless all the peoples of the world.

Abraham’s descendants through his son Isaac became known as Israel. Later this people were enslaved in Egypt for hundreds of years. God miraculously rescued them through ten plagues against Egypt. This judgment culminated in the death of the firstborn of every Egyptian household.

That night, each Israelite family sacrificed a lamb and placed its blood on the doorway of their house. When the Lord saw the blood, he passed over that house and the firstborn inside were spared.

God commanded the Israelites to commemorate this miraculous event with the feast called Passover every year.

Then God rescued the Israelites out of Egypt and destroyed their enemies in the sea. Eventually he brought them into the Promised Land.

The Sacrificial System

On their way to the Promised Land, God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, God’s laws. He also mapped out a sacrificial system so that when people broke the laws their sins could be covered.

Animals without any flaw became the sacrifices to cover people’s sins. The sacrifices, however, only provided a temporary fix.

The Savior

Through the prophets, God repeated his promise to send a redeemer. He also identified himself as Israel’s Redeemer and Savior (Isa. 43:11, 60:16). Finally, he proved his love by sending Jesus.

Jesus, part of the three-in-one Godhead, miraculously entered human flesh when the Spirit of God impregnated a young virgin named Mary. Since we inherit our identity and sin nature through our fathers, Jesus’ mother had to be a virgin. The God-man, Jesus, inherited God the Father’s perfect nature.

The Final Sacrifice

Sin against the holy, righteous, eternal God deserves the ultimate punishment of eternal suffering and death. If God didn’t punish sin, he would be unjust, against his nature.

The final sacrifice for sin against the holy God had to be perfect and holy. Only God is perfect and holy, so the Redeemer had to be God. The sacrifice also had to be human in order to represent us.

God loved the world so much, he himself through his Son became the sacrifice to pay for all of humankind’s sin. Jesus became our sin so he could confer to us his righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21). By his grace through faith, God credits the holiness of Jesus to us. Otherwise, we would never be able to stand before the holy God.

Victory Over Sin

At the time of the annual Passover feast, God poured out his rightful wrath for all humankind’s sin onto the perfect Lamb, his own Son.

Jesus had lived a perfect life, yet he was arrested, ridiculed, spat on, crowned with thorns, and whipped with a skin-ripping flagellum by people he had created (John 1:3).

By the time the Roman soldiers nailed his hands and feet to the cross, Jesus’ face didn’t even look human (Isa. 52:14).

Yet from the cross, as he struggled for each breath, he prayed, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Jesus became sin for us, but sin cannot dwell in God’s presence. So in ultimate agony, God the Son was separated from God the Father for the first time in all eternity.

Finally, crushed under the weight of the world’s sin and the Father’s wrath, Jesus cried, “It is finished.” He had accomplished his goal in obedience to his Father. He had made atonement for all sin and paid our debt with his own blood.

Victory Over Death

Jesus died and his body was laid in a tomb. Then on the third day, early on Sunday morning, he burst forth as the triumphant and glorious victor over sin and death.

Because Jesus lives forever, all who repent (turn away from sin) and believe in Him can receive his free gift of salvation and live eternally with God.

The Meaning of Easter

Jesus said we must be born again to see the kingdom of God. That new birth can come only through Jesus who satisfied our debt for sin.

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12–13 esv).

God’s kindness, his amazing love even for sinners who hate him, defines Easter. It means that everyone, no matter how evil or hopeless, can find new life – eternal life – in Jesus Christ.

Halleluiah!

Jesus took on the sins of the world on Calvary – including your sins and mine – to make a way for you to have peace with God. Click the button below to learn about God’s love.


Related Articles

Jesus’ Resurrection: Fact or Fiction?

Resurrection Sunday: More Than Eggs and a Bunny

Don’t Let Passover Pass You By

The Lamb of God

 

As an author, speaker and online host Jeanne Dennis helps families understand and apply biblical truth, answer tough spiritual questions, and pass on their faith in a confused culture. She is a commissioned Colson Fellow and Centurion and an award-winning author of a dozen books. She and her husband of over 40 years produce Heritage of Truth TV. Learn more at JeanneDennis.com

 

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