As I have heard it said, the only two certainties in life are death and taxes. During the month of April we observe two very important days related to both. April 15 is the deadline for filing taxes. My beloved former accountant, David McLemore, had a small stained glass window behind his desk in his office. Underneath this window was an inscription, “The Lord Giveth, and the Government Taketh Away”. David has now gone on to be with the Lord, but what a blessing it was to see him once a year, even though doing taxes was and is never a pleasant task for me. The other important day that we will observe on April 12 is not related to taxes, but instead to death. The death of Christ. He died a terrible death on a cruel Roman cross. A cross reserved for the most terrible criminals.
Aren’t we glad though that Easter is about more than His death? It is also about His atonement and resurrection. There is no victory to be found in death alone. Only hopelessness. That’s why the death of Christ is so important to all of humanity. His death was not the final word. His Atonement and Resurrection were the final word. Death could not keep Him in it’s grasp, the grave could not hold Him, Hallelujah Christ is risen from the dead! Let’s take a closer look at these topics: death, atonement, and resurrection.
Much of the news lately has been consumed by the Coronavirus. Is it because people are getting sick from it? No. It is because people are dying from it. In general, people don’t like to talk about death. We don’t really like to attend funerals. Why is this? Because it confronts us with that very uncomfortable topic, death, and ultimately our own mortality. The glorious message of Easter is that death was not the end of the story but only the beginning. Death, for Christ, was simply a passageway into a greater and more glorious ending. Are you afraid to die? No need to be afraid if you have the right man on your side, Jesus, who is the Christ sent from God. If you place your faith in Christ, you too will be victorious over death whenever that day comes, and will live eternally with God in glory.
Death, for Christ, opened the door for Atonement. Why did God have the Israelites spread the blood of the lamb on the doorposts of their homes? Why did God have the people take sacrifices to the tabernacle? It was to teach them the concept of atonement.
“Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” Hebrews 9:22
But we know that these sacrificial animals did not save. They did, however, point forward to the perfect Lamb of God, Jesus, who would take away the sins of the world. When Jesus died, he made an atonement. Through that atonement, we are forgiven and reconciled to a Holy God. The veil in the temple was ripped from top to bottom. Through the blood of Christ, we can now enter boldly into the presence of a Holy God. The holy wrath of God which was directed at our sins, was unleashed on the sinless one when he cried out from the cross, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me”? When we place our faith in Christ, our sins are covered, forgiven, and removed from us as far as the east is from the west. That’s a long way!
When the Father, through the power of the Holy Spirit, raised Christ from the dead, it was a resounding AMEN to what Christ had accomplished on the cross. It was God’s affirmation that Christ was who He said he was and that he had accomplished, once and for all, what he had come to earth for, to save us from our sins and conquer death. When we drive by or visit a cemetery, we should remember that death no longer has the final word. Indeed, for the follower of Christ, we can rejoice when we visit the grave of a loved one who had placed their faith in Jesus, because we are standing on holy resurrection ground. The promise of Scripture is that at the last day the dead in Christ will be raised and those believers who are alive at his coming will be transformed instantly, without even experiencing death, similar to Enoch and Elijah.
As I close this newsletter article, I wanted to share with you some excerpts from Hillsong Worship’s wonderful worship song, “What a Beautiful Name”. I believe that these lyrics capture near perfectly the reason why we celebrate Easter.
were the Word at the beginning
One with God the Lord Most High
Your hidden glory in creation
Now revealed in You our Christ
didn’t want heaven without us
So Jesus, you brought heaven down
My sin was great, your love was greater
What could separate us now
could not hold you, the veil tore before You
you silenced the boast, of sin and grave
The heavens are roaring, the praise of Your glory
For You are raised to life again
have no rival, you have no equal
Now and forever, Our God reigns
Yours is the Kingdom, yours is the glory
Yours is the Name, above all names
May the Love, Goodness, and Grace of the Crucified and Risen One be yours in abundance this Easter.