This Easter is more meaningful for me than the last ones as I’m really starting to get a handle on just what Jesus did. It’s not the exact date of death and then resurrection, but it is the time of year we pay tribute to our King of Kings, Saviour, and Redeemer. Easter changes each year, depending on the Lunar cycle as it follows the Jewish calendar rather than the Gregorian one which follows the Sun.
I saw “The Passion of The Christ” movie years ago, and while awful, someone else’s illustration doesn’t always help us gain real understanding. The more I screwed up, the more I made him sweat blood (caused him to experience hematohidrosis) in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before. The more I sinned, the more I helped the Romans lash his body raw with the cat o’ nine tails. I may not have been born then, but Jesus came to pay the price for all sins that would ever happen.
I consider when Jesus went into the wilderness for 40 days. He had nothing to eat. Yes, many will argue this never happened. Don’t you think He, being mortal at the time, would have been nearly dead? Of course…but that was when Satan tempted Him. At His weakest point. At the time He was least on guard. Which makes His denial of Satan’s temptations, not once, but three times, all the more remarkable.
Had He succumbed to Satan, He would not have been able to redeem us. But Jesus knew what was on the line and yet at the same time, isn’t it possible that He could have become so weak that He might have failed this test?
Jesus didn’t fail His test. And He didn’t fail in His ultimate mission, which was to do what only Jesus could do to give us the opportunity to receive salvation. He didn’t fail, because He is perfect.
His blood cleanses us of our sins and blots out our wrong-doings from being able to be seen by God. It’s like when the court seals a record….it’s hidden from public access. The only way it’s going to be unsealed is if you go and screw up again. With sin, that might only come back if you decide to go the other way and depart from the Lord.
Blood sacrifice is not new in Christianity. It features a lot in the Old Testament, particularly with the Israelites when Moses led them out of Egypt. They were given instructions on how to atone for sins against God with animal offerings, grain offerings and blood offerings. What was a common theme throughout the instruction on these offerings is they were to be without blemish. There’s a whole book on this in the Bible – see Leviticus.
Jesus was without blemish. He was sinless. He became the final and ultimate sacrifice to atone for our sins. Not sins he committed, but sins you and I had committed. And even though we continue to sin (whether by mistake, or bad habit) we are still forgiven. The reality of repentance is to make a genuine effort to turn from sin. Turning from sin isn’t always easy.
What is a sin?
A sin is something we do/think/say that goes against God’s moral law. If you need to understand what the moral law is, please see Exodus Chapter 20. Some of the laws are what we follow in order to live in a civilized society and are intended to keep the peace. However, being able to keep all those laws is almost impossible as the Israelites show us through their history. You’d have to be perfect. Even Moses screwed up!
Here I’ll refer you to Matthew 26: 36-37 where Jesus gives the most important laws of all and if you think about it, they’re all the commandments in one, but it’s still hard to follow when we are governed by our own flesh and millennia of sin coursing through our blood lines.
Remember what I said about Jesus being in the wilderness, hungry and being tempted by Satan and how He was at his weakest point? What do you think often happens when we are at our weakest point? We are often tempted by Satan to break a moral law. So, if anybody can understand you and your sin, no matter how heinous or minimal it is in human standards, Jesus can. And that’s why Jesus came for the broken, the down-trodden, the grief-stricken, the desperate and those with a hunger (for knowledge). He didn’t come for the self-righteous know-it-all who doesn’t even want saving. He came for those who would see what his gift truly was. Salvation, peace of mind, victory over death, being made worthy to stand before God, to be able to live in His presence in the life after this one. To have a friendship with the one who matters most. To understand your purpose and what your whole reason for living is.
For me, Jesus’ sacrifice wasn’t just a few days of hell on earth, but it was an agonizing time overall. He knew what was coming, but He went, like a lamb to the slaughter, because He knew the bigger picture. He knew what was at stake. He knew it was going to be the worst pain He would ever endure and He even knew many people would continue to deny Him as God (effectively throwing away His work, His pain, His terrible suffering). Yet He did it anyway.
Because He thinks you and I are worth saving. That is pure love.
If God didn’t have a certain moral upright way of doing things, He wouldn’t have had to sacrifice His son, but because He is perfect, it was the only way as you and I are perpetual screw-ups. Despite this, He loves us anyway.
As I reflect on the ultimate sacrifice and the times of temptation that could have stopped Jesus from being able to ‘finish the job’, I feel humbled, guilty and pathetic. But I also feel grateful and loved and I appreciate that God knows what it’s like to be human. He humbled Himself to our level so that He could save us from eternal death. Because we weren’t originally made to die. We were meant to live with Him.
When you think about Easter, what does Jesus’ sacrifice mean to you?