The Beauty of Easter

The Beauty of Easter

A featured guest post by SPL member Kyle Cline

What I deserved was death. What I got was life – an amazing life to be lived in true connection with the God who created me. Easter is awesome.
(warning – long post ahead)

Easter is my favorite holiday. Don’t get me wrong, 4th of July barbecues are great with their delicious sweet corn and the potential of lighting things on fire. And Thanksgiving is such a great time for family connection and to reflect on all we have been given. And I can’t leave out Christmas with it’s amazing traditions – beautiful décor, wonderful music, and spirit of goodwill and peace – and the reason for the entire Christmas celebration, the arrival of mankind’s Savior on earth and the dawn of real, tangible hope.

So then, what makes Easter so special? Why is Easter my favorite holiday? I’ll give you a hint – it’s not the chocolate bunnies or the candy filled eggs (although I do LOVE Reeses eggs). Some might even go so far as to call it morbid to love Easter as your favorite holiday – after all, the whole thing started with an innocent man being horrifically tortured and killed.

Easter is my favorite holiday because the most significant event in the history of the human race took place on Easter. The most important battle against the most powerful evil that the world has ever seen was fought and that evil was vanquished. A debt was paid that I owed – a debt that I could have worked my whole life and never been able to repay – a debt that cost me my freedom and my life.

What does that mean? What debt could I owe at 33 years old that I could never repay in my lifetime? What could I have done that would cost me my freedom and even my life?

I have been asked before – Who is God? What is God? My best description of who God is comes from His autobiography to us – the Bible. In it, God describes himself in many ways – but 2 of the key truths are these:
God is Love.
God is Just.

God is Love – He loves you and He loves me like no one else on earth ever could. True unconditional love. That means – no matter what I do, no matter how much I’ve screwed up, He still loves me – and He still loves YOU too – individually, deeply, passionately.

God is Just – He is the one true and perfect judge. He is fair, without exception. He views ALL wrongdoing exactly the same – no wrong is greater than another. And when He passes sentence as judge, he punishes the wrong-doer and rewards the righteous.

But how can God be both of these things – Unconditionally Loving and yet, the Perfect Judge? Think about this – Imagine you go to court because someone stole $10,000 from you. You have all the evidence, the thief was caught red-handed – they are guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt. The jury finds that person guilty and now it’s time to pronounce the sentence. But before sentence is pronounced, the thief says to the judge – “I am so sorry that I stole this person’s money. I really don’t want to be a thief anymore and I am going to try really hard not to steal again.” The judge tells the court that the thief is one of his children that he dearly loves and since he knows the thief is truly sorry, the thief is free to go.

WHAT?!?! We would be OUTRAGED! This person is guilty!! At the bare minimum, they should have to pay back the money they stole! What a terrible judge! It’s not fair!!

So how can God be Just, the best and perfect judge? Shouldn’t the perfect judge make the thief repay all the money he stole? And what about situations that are beyond financial repair? The lifelong psychological damage to a child who is abused by the person who was supposed to love and protect them, the breakup of a family because of the unfaithfulness of a spouse, or what about the loss of a loved one because of a stranger’s decision to drive drunk? Shouldn’t someone be held accountable for these atrocities? The good and fair judge would condemn the wrong-doers! They should be punished, that’s what’s fair! Right?

As the ultimate fair and perfect judge, God views all wrong-doing the same way. He hates wrong-doing, it makes Him sick. He will punish those who do wrong – and the punishment is severe – death, eternal separation from Him.

On face value, that sounds good, sounds fair, sounds just. Only one problem – the part about God viewing all wrong-doing the same way. That means, in God’s courtroom, even what we would consider the smallest offense will count the same as what we would consider horrific evil. And let’s be honest, not one of us has lived a perfect life. We have all screwed up and done something wrong. I have, you have, we ALL have.

So where does that leave us? We want a just God in a seemingly unfair world. At least until it’s our turn to be judged, then we want a loving judge who will listen with compassion and maybe spare us from the punishment we deserve for the wrongs we have committed.

How can God be Love and be Just?

Easter.

In God’s perfect justice, evil cannot go unpunished. Wrong-doing (sin) has to be paid for and the sentence is death. Only, at the moment when we should be condemned, someone stands in our place. That someone is Jesus Christ.

The clearest example of God’s love is found in His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is God’s heart, God’s love in the flesh. Jesus lived the life that none of us could – He never did wrong. He was without sin, completely blameless. In God’s courtroom, Jesus would be declared a righteous man with nothing separating him from the holy God of this universe.

Then God did something unthinkable, something that appears beyond comprehension. God traded the blameless for the blamed. God took the wrong-doing, the sin of the entire world, the sin of every human being who has ever lived and ever will live – my sin and your sin – and He piled it all on Jesus. Remember, evil cannot go unpunished. And if we are honest with ourselves, there are times when we have all done evil. Someone will have to answer for that, and that someone should be us. But Jesus sacrificed himself to take our punishment, to pay our debt. He took our punishment so that we could be with God again, with no evil, no wrong-doing, no sin separating us from the holy God, our Creator. God accepted Jesus’s sacrifice and cleared the debt – yesterday’s debt, today’s debt, tomorrow’s debt – Jesus cleared ANYTHING that we could ever do that would separate us from God.

Why would He do that? Why would Jesus pay for our wrongs? Why would God let him? Because God is LOVE. He showed His love for us by sending His Son to make a way for us to come back to Him. Jesus paid the debt and it is PAID IN FULL.

EasterSunriseRISENBelieve it or not, the most amazing part of the Easter story comes 3 days after Jesus was killed. God in His infinite power raised Jesus up from the dead. He raised Him to show us definitively that our sins are forgiven! He tells us to leave our sin in the only place where it belongs – in His empty tomb. He wants us to follow Him back to the abundant life that is a life lived in true relationship with God.

What I deserved was death. What I got was life – an amazing life to be lived in true connection with the God who created me. Easter is awesome.

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