1 Thessalonians 5:10 (Jesus)who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with Him
Easter week is a lot more than jelly beans, colored eggs, new clothes, and chocolate bunnies. Though I must say I love the Cadbury mini eggs, and of course a good solid chocolate bunny, along with some of those Jelly Belly tangerine jelly beans. Actually, I enjoy most all sweets and chocolates! Yes, Easter week is full of all kinds of celebrations: egg hunts, family gatherings, annual traditions, and for many it means a visit to church. Now, if you are a regular church attender, Easter Sunday is an incredible day, for it is the celebration of Jesus rising from the dead.
1 Corinthians 15:3b-4 …that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,
Easter Sunday is resurrection day. Jesus conquered death, proving all He taught and proclaimed is true. He is our Savior and Lord. There are many proofs of Jesus’ resurrection as Lee Strobel, an investigative journalist, reported in his book Case for the Real Jesus.
The Apostle Paul gave proof as well, saying the risen Jesus was seen alive!!
1 Corinthians 15:5-7 and that He appeared to Cephas (Peter), then to the twelve. Then He appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared also to me.
To read of Paul’s encounter of the risen Jesus see Acts 9:1-19.
So here is the first paradox. Jesus had to die for us to live.
Romans 6:10 For the death He (Jesus) died He died to sin, once for all, but the life He lives He lives to God.
1 John 4:10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation (atoning sacrifice) for our sins.
1 Peter 2:24 He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed.
Jesus took punishment for sin upon Himself and died in our place. See, we as humans have been born with a disease called sin and that sin leads to death (Romans 3:23) and separation from God (Isaiah 59:2). This separation blocks us from God’s influence, keeps us out of living up to God’s purpose, and excludes us from heaven. The good news is we have a choice to deal with our sin and the separation with God is removed. It’s faith in Jesus. When we believe in purpose of Jesus’ death we live! A strange but good paradox.
Another paradox of Easter is with hate and love. There were some religious people who did not like Jesus, and actually hated Him. They wanted Him dead, for Jesus claimed to be God. Also, because He did not adhere to their human power based religious system, and because He did miracles only God could do (like raising Lazarus John 11:1-44). Actually, after Jesus raised Lazarus the religious leaders plotted to kill Jesus (see John 11:45-53). They hated Jesus, yet Jesus was all about love, giving His followers the command to love like Him.
John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
Though there are more paradoxical realities of Easter there is one more to think about. It’s the paradox of accusation and forgiveness. The gripping scene of these contrasting elements is in the story a Barabbas (Matthew 27:15-26, Mark 15:6-15, Luke 23:18-24, John 18:39-40). Pilate, wanting to free Jesus because there were no valid accusations against Him, let the crowd know they could release (forgive) a criminal on this day. They did not choose Jesus who had healed people, fed people, cured lepers, cast out demons, and even raised the dead! They chose a known murderer, one already accused and convicted, a very bad man. Why? Yet because of Jesus, Barabbas went free: free of his crime, free of his punishment, free to do as he pleased. Jesus was then led off to the horrors of crucifixion. The accused was forgiven. And so are we, if we choose to believe.
Though there are a lot of mind stretching paradoxes at Easter, the greatest truth is we have loving Savior who made it possible for us to be free to know God, live out the purpose God created us to live, and have our reservation set for heaven.
Church is a great place to go for Easter, or any Sunday. If you don’t already have a church you regularly attend, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or any of our branch churches. Our website has more information: http://www.cypresschurch.net.