As we approach Easter, we might ask ourselves what is its real meaning? Is it about Easter egg hunts and cute bunnies or is it more than that?
Nowhere else do we celebrate two events each year focusing our attention on one person, Jesus. The first event is Christmas. The word has “Christ” in it. At Christmas we celebrate the Virgin birth of the Savior, Jesus Christ, Jesus being his name and Christ his title. Jesus is the Lord’s human name given to Mary by the angel Gabriel (Luke 1:31). The meaning of ‘Christ’ comes from the Greek word Christos, meaning ‘anointed one’ or ‘the chosen one’. This is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word Mashiach, or ‘Messiah’. His birth, His coming and His earthly mission was prophesized many times throughout the Old Testament.
The second event, Easter Sunday, acknowledges and celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. He told us in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (gospel meaning ‘good news’) that He would rise from death three days after His death and burial. The resurrection would confirm to the world that Jesus was more than mere man. He came to us as God in human form, called the Son of man, i.e., the Son of God in the form ‘of’ man.
Why would Jesus Christ come from the pristine environment of heaven, being in the presence of God the Father, to a world marred by sin, strife and bitter dissension? The answer is that God is totally devoid of sin. Man’s nature is flawed and sinful in its natural state. God, the creator of all things, is devoid of sin. Man is unable to have a relationship with God in his fallen, sinful state. Jesus came to earth to bring forgiveness and redemption to fallen man, opening the path to eternal life beyond our mortal life.
Jesus, as man, was unlike any other human being. He was born of a Virgin mother, lived on earth without sin and without a fallen nature. He went to a brutal, cruel death by crucifixion, shedding His precious blood and life as the price for forgiveness of our sinful debt. On the third day, He rose from the dead, a resurrection witnessed by many and accepted by so many for over two thousand years since His presence on earth.
As a consequence of His death and resurrection, all who accept and embrace Him, believing in Him as Savior has relationship with the three persons of God’s Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and a path to eternal life. In the Bible, God’s word, we are told in Romans 6:23 “the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” In John 14:6 Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.”
What Jesus accomplished for fallen man costs us nothing, but cost Jesus, as man, everything. Prior to His crucifixion He was spat upon, flogged and mocked by Roman soldiers who placed a crown of thorns upon His head and a purple robe around Him, laughing as they said “hail, King of the Jews!” He was punched in His face so much that His visage was marred. This was only the beginning of His incredible suffering and pain. As He went to the cross, stripped of His garments, spikes were driven through His wrists and feet as He lay on the cross, and He was again mocked by bystanders: “He saved others but He cannot save Himself.” How did Jesus respond? “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
It is instructive to consider an incident before Jesus’s crucifixion involving Nicodemus, a Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin, a ruler of the Jews. In Chapter 3 of John’s gospel, we find Nicodemus coming to Jesus by night. Perhaps he came when it was dark not wanting the Jews to see him talking to Jesus. He said to Jesus, “Rabbi, we know that you have come from God as a teacher, for no one could do these signs unless God is with Him.” Of what signs was Nicodemus speaking? Well known for His miracles, including turning water into wine, healing people with leprosy, restoring sight to the blind, and driving out demons from people, Jesus said to Nicodemus “you must be born again”. Jesus was speaking of a spiritual birth but Nicodemus thought Jesus was referring to a physical birth. Nicodemus should have realized that Jesus was no mortal man since he was a teacher of Israel. Old Testament scripture in many places pointed to Jesus, the coming Messiah. Several of these scripture prophesies are in Jeremiah 31:15, Isaiah 53: 3-7, Psalm 22: 17-18, Micah 5:2, and Daniel 9: 24,25,27.
The Word of God was written by 40 authors over a period of 1400 years – written by men but inspired by God with its ultimate purpose to point us to the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who came that we might have life and have it to the full. Life is full of choices and decisions, but it is my belief that knowing Jesus as Savior is life’s most important decision because it determines our destiny after we have passed from our earthly life. This life changing decision also greatly impacts the way we live in the present life. I believe the more we know about Jesus, the more we learn to love Him. We love Him because of what He provided for us as He went to the cross and His resurrection. As we learn who He was, we are encouraged to be like Him: kind, compassionate, forgiving, loving, always caring for the needs of others, without pride and deceit, so humble and so much more.
My hope for you as you read this article is that you too may come to know Jesus Christ as Savior. The gospel of John is a very good starting point to learn, know and begin or strengthen your relationship with Jesus. As so many Christians for so long have come to know so well, this is the real meaning of Easter. It is about His gift of redemption for us and a relationship with the Lord that brings forgiveness, peace and righteousness in this world and a path to eternal life in the next.
As we move through 2023 and into the next election cycle, The Prickly Pear will resume Take Action recommendations and information.