Like Christmas, Resurrection Sunday has become all but lost in the secular trappings that surround the holiday. The world’s focus, on this most meaningful of all Christian holidays, is on Easter bunnies, Easter eggs, Easter bonnets, and Easter dresses...anything to distract people from the true significance of the day.
At Christmas, Christians celebrate the coming of God into our world in human flesh. At Easter or, as many Christians prefer to call it, “Resurrection Sunday,” we celebrate what His coming means for a world of lost sinners.
The Christian Bible consists of an Old Testament and a New Testament. Some folks see the two testaments as being totally different works, often assigning more importance to one than to the other; but nothing could be further from the truth. The two are in perfect harmony with each other, and each needs the other if the full significance of both is to be realized.
The Old Testament tells of God’s creation of the world; mankind’s fall into sin, which resulted in separation from God; the terrible effects of that sin on the world and everything in it; and God’s promise of a Redeemer that would one day come to rescue sinful man and restore him to a right relationship with his Creator.
The Old Testament records the first step in God’s plan of redemption, which was to call out a people for Himself, a people through whom He could be revealed to the world. He chose Abram, later changing his name to Abraham. God made a covenant with Abraham that He would make of him a great nation and that, through Abraham, all the nations of the world would be blessed.
Abraham had a son named Isaac, and Isaac had a son named Jacob, whose name was changed by God to Israel. Jacob (Israel) had twelve sons who became the patriarchs of the twelve tribes of the nation of Israel. From one of those tribes, the tribe of Judah, was to come the Redeemer that would bless all the nations of the world.
Throughout the Old Testament, God’s dealings with His people included much symbolism, the reality of which would be ultimately revealed in the Redeemer that was to come. One such example of that is the Passover.
The nation of Israel had come under bondage to the nation of Egypt. God’s purposes in allowing that bondage had finally been fulfilled, and it was time for the release of His people, Israel, so that they could go and inhabit the land that He had given them.
God had been preparing Moses to lead His people out of Egypt and into the land of promise. So He sent Moses to the Egyptian Pharoah to demand the release of His people. Of course, Pharoah refused, resulting in a series of ten plagues sent by God on the Egyptians. The tenth plague was to be the death of every firstborn in the land, both of man and of animal.
Because they also lived in the land of Egypt, the people of Israel would have suffered the deaths of their firstborn, too, unless God had provided a way of escape. And He did. He instructed them to choose a perfect lamb from among the flocks, one for each household. They were to kill the lamb and put its blood on the doorposts of their dwellings. Then they were to stay inside that dwelling until the plague had been completed. God said, “...when I see the blood, I will pass over you...”
From then on, the Passover was established as an annual day of remembrance of God’s grace in sparing His people from the death by which they were surrounded on that night.
The New Testament tells of the arrival of the promised Redeemer. God clothed Himself in human flesh and entered our world to live among us. When He had grown to manhood, He gathered around Himself a group of twelve men into whom He poured His life for approximately three years. These men became his closest friends and He theirs.
He taught these twelve and others spiritual truths. He healed the sick and gave sight to the blind. The lame walked, and the deaf heard. He explained to His disciples that He had come into the world to save sinners. He told them what lay ahead for Him: arrest, torture, crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection. They believed that He was the Son of God, the long-awaited Messiah; and their human minds couldn’t fully understand these sayings until after the predicted events had come to pass. They didn’t understand that the Messiah must first be punished for sin...not His, but ours...before He would come again in power as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Jesus was the “Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world.” As God’s perfect Passover lamb, Jesus was crucified at Passover. Only a sinless Savior could pay the penalty for the sins of the world. And only God is sinless. Jesus' resurrection on the first day of the week was confirmation of God's satisfaction with the payment Jesus had made for our sin.
When a person places his faith in Jesus and asks God to forgive his sins based on the fact that Jesus already paid the penalty for those sins, the blood of Christ is applied to that person’s heart. From then on, God sees that believer as one whose sin debt has already been paid. And, as He said to the people of Israel on that first Passover, He now says to those whose faith is in His Son, “...when I see the blood, I will pass over you...”
Every one of us is ultimately accountable to God for the things we do in this life. God has gone to great lengths to reveal Himself to us through creation, through His written Word, and through Jesus, Who is the Living Word. He has communicated His standard of perfect righteousness which is required for admission to Heaven. He has also revealed that no human ever has achieved or ever will achieve that standard. But, rather than leave us without hope, God Himself bore our punishment and offers Heaven to us as a free gift, which can be received by faith in the substitutionary death of Jesus on our behalf.
As we approach the holiday most commonly known as Easter but which is best described as Resurrection Sunday, it is my prayer for each of you that you would place your faith in Jesus and allow Him to come into your heart as Lord of your life. Then we can be assured of meeting one another some day...if not in this life, then in the next.
And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. (Exodus 12:13)