Sad to say the world’s idea of “Easter” betrays the same ignorance as its understanding of Christmas.
For the Church the real reason behind Christ’s death and resurrection often becomes blurred by those who would rob it of its sin atoning, propitiationary meaning. They make Christ’s death purely exemplary and make it mean that nothing more than the willingness to sacrifice self for the good of others. The tendency is to say God is waiting for man to return home and the death of Christ is merely a sign of God’s love. While there is truth in these ideas, these theories do not address what the Bible actually says.
The only satisfying explanation of the death of Christ is that of the problem of man’s sin. We see the justice of God and the love of God both at work. We see the sinner’s punishment exacted on the innocent holy Son of God become man as substitute and surety for him. We see the love of God in not sparing His own Son the death of the cross for sins not his own. We see sin punished to the full and yet the guilty spared: even more they are clothed with a perfect righteousness through faith in Christ’s sacrifice.
We must ever maintain the biblical teaching for the reason for Christ’s death on the cross. We must not let anyone rob it of its eternal significance.
I have no doubt that everyone who reads this article has a picture in their mind of what the scene was like at the time of Christ’s crucifixion. We have pictures and films and the scripture narrative to give our mind’s eye a small sense of this , to human eyes, tragic scene.
A noisy boisterous crowd, jeering priests and religious officials, cruel desensitized soldiers and a few sympathetic sorrowing mourners. Whoever else was crucified that day, all attention was on one man.
This self style “Messiah” has gone too far, he had to be got rid of. They would have preferred to have done it quietly but they had to take the opportunity to seize him when it came. Shame it was at the Passover when Jerusalem was at its busiest.
Even at the end when the nails pierced his hands he had prayed for his killer’s forgiveness but this could not evoke the least compassion from those who had arranged it.
True he had faced this shameful death with courage and fortitude even making future provision for his mother.
Perhaps he realized his self delusion when he cried “My God, My God why have you forsaken me”. His crying out for a drink surely proved that he was just a man. Yet at the end he cried out “It is Finished”. It seemed the cloud that had passed between him and the Father was gone forever.
There was something more than a mere man’s death here.
Darkness like nothing seen before enveloped the whole scene. This dying Jesus promised “Paradise” to a repentant fellow sufferer.
At the moment of his death the earth shook and the rocks were rent asunder. Even a battle hardened centurion saw something divine in this dead Galilean.
He was dead, the Roman spear in his side proved that beyond a doubt. He was entombed and sealed in. This was the end.
They had not heard the last of this man.