Meditations: Easter and Hope
All over the world, celebration of Easter is underway. What is this holiday? From its origins, what does it represent?
Today I would like to write a brief post about my answer to these questions.
At the center of the answer is the Cross. On which Jesus Christ was crucified. After which, as He said He would, He arose from the dead on the third day - the first day of the week. Easter Sunday!
Before we can talk about the Cross, we first need to talk about what led up to that fateful day.
Is there any place on earth which is so universally understood and known than a garden? It can be many things. Beyond its practical purpose of providing a source of food, for many, it serves as a a place of peace and tranquility. A sanctuary. A place of refuge.
In the history of mankind, the Word of God provides two very important examples of a garden - the Garden of Eden and the Garden of Gethsemane. In these two gardens, men there made decisions which affected all eternity.
In the first, the Garden of Eden, we read about man living in a perfect state of harmony and peace with His Creator. He had only one requirement to remain in that state. Which he chose not to obey ...
"Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”"
Tempted by Satan to doubt this, in his willfulness, man was determined to go his own way. The consequence was immediate. Sin entered the world and the world was forever changed.
The Problem Statement
Many of us, in one way or the other, have heard of this famous story of the Garden of Eden. Of God's one commandment to Adam, to not eat of the Tree of Good and Evil. There is so much that has been written about all of this, for centuries.
I will not attempt to recreate it here, except to say God's Word tells us this is how sin entered into the world. And, as a consequence, forever changed it from what He originally intended it would be.
Sin. A simple three-letter word. We can all spend the rest of what remains of our lives trying to fully grasp the depth of its meaning. And its eternal consequences ...
Sin fundamentally stands in the way of man having fellowship with His Creator. There is only one solution available. Sacrifice. Again, much has been written about this, so I will not attempt to recreate it here.
Fortunately, the story of man does not end with his disastrous choice in the first garden and what followed. No, there was another garden.
In the second, the Garden of Gethsemane, we read about the tremendous agony suffered by Jesus Christ as He was also tempted not to obey.
And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by. 36 And He was saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.”
Born to die, as the ultimate sacrifice to atone for the failure of Adam and his descendants, Christ was obedient. Rather than go his own way, He chose to fulfill His Father's will for His life.
"For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive."
Adam failed. Jesus Christ did not. And in this we have Hope!
In the Old Testament, the story of the origins of man and God's history with His chosen people, we read a lot of details about their repeated cycles of living as they should, then falling away. Again. Over and over ...
In the midst of this history, we read this:
“Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other."
In God's perfect holiness and justice, He repeatedly called upon His people to repent of their waywardness and come back to the life for which they had been created. The Old Testament ends with them never having come back fully. And, even the times when they came back partially, it didn't last for long.
Mankind was helplessly and hopelessly lost. Powerless to do anything about it. In the fullness of time, God Himself provided the answer to mankind's eternal dilemma. In the New Testament, we read this:
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."
On the Cross, God's perfect holiness and justice were met with His perfect grace and mercy. Based upon His love, which is beyond the comprehension of man, He laid down His life. That we might be free, have life, and have it abundantly. Just as our Creator had intended, from the beginning of time.
He laid down His life? Why would the Son of God have to die?
Conviction vs. Condemnation
If you have read this far, I would imagine you may have conflicting emotions about how you are feeling about it. And how best to respond. Perhaps you will permit me to share with you how I have struggled with the same thing.
Before continuing, I am compelled to make a critically important statement:
I am no better than you. I am no different from you!
If we have any experience at all with Christianity and the message of the Gospel, we have almost certainly heard it from someone else. And how did that go? For many of us, the answer lies in these two words - conviction and condemnation - and understanding what they represent.
Both of these words are typically associated with hearing something ... a "message" ... which we likely would rather not have heard. The essential distinction between these two words is what lies behind the intent of "the messenger." I believe what ultimately lies behind conviction is love. And I believe what ultimately lies behind condemnation is hatred.
My own experience has been a much greater familiarity with condemnation, as too often even well-intentioned (Are they truly? Only God Himself can say ...) people can come across as condescending and self-righteous.
But ... Is that always the case? Thankfully and eternally grateful, I can say ... No!
Below you will find a link to "my story" and how a man was used by God to change my life. How did he manage that? By being humble and yet not afraid to speak loving words of conviction ...
To the world, the true, historic story of the original Easter Sunday represents the Lamb of God fulfilling the call to pay the greatest price possible for God's people to be free. To be returned, for all time and eternity, to a fully restored relationship with Him in a place of perfect harmony, peace, and prosperity.
There is only one way to get there:
"Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me."
While there is still time, on this Easter Sunday, I pray His words will come alive to you, dear reader.
Even for the most optimistic among us, there is a lot in the world which can lead to despair. For those who are "positive thinkers," what keeps you (us) going?
Hope! For what? Utopia! Paradise! There are many different words across the world for what is essentially the same thing. The great yearning in the heart of man for a better place to call home. A place of refuge from all the ills of the world around them. A place of peace and prosperity. A permanent sanctuary in which we are unconditionally loved and find everlasting joy.
On Easter Sunday, you just read through a brief post on the one source of hope provided by the Author of Life to us all. Not intended to be comprehensive, I will be happy to answer any questions which you may have, to the best of my ability.
Thank you for investing your time in reading this post. On this great day of celebrating the ultimate source of hope, I’d love to hear any feedback you may be inspired to provide.
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