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There is plenty of disheartening and worrisome news. Children have been gassed to death in Syria. North Korea is testing nuclear weapons. Christians in Egypt, still reeling from the Palm Sunday massacres at two churches, will not be celebrating this Sunday. Easter festivities have been cancelled in many churches in Egypt.
Around the world, the persecution of Christians is accelerating. A report in January noted, ¡°For the third year in a row, the modern persecution of Christians worldwide has hit another record high.¡± Here at home Judeo-Christian values continue to be pushed out of the public square.
But today, we focus on the perfect Lamb, the truth of scripture and exactly what it is that we as Christians are celebrating. (And it¡¯s not chocolate bunnies or marshmallow chicks!)
As a child, when I read the Easter story, there was a part of me that wanted a different ending. If only He had come down from the Cross and destroyed His enemies ¨C that would have demonstrated His power. That is what I thought then. Of course, I soon learned how wrong that thought was.
Christ had to die so that we might have everlasting life. His sacrifice on the cross saved all who believe in Him. As Charles Wesley¡¯s great hymn states: ¡°Amazing love! How can it be that Thou, my God, should die for me?¡±
Romans 5:8 tells us, ¡°But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.¡±
While some worship a god who commands men to die for him, we worship a loving God who gave His son to die for us. What a contrast!
But Christ did more than just give up His life. He conquered death and rose from the grave. While Christmas tends to overshadow most holidays, ultimately it is not a birthday that we celebrate ¨C it is the resurrection. If Christ had not risen from the grave, He would have been forgotten as a common criminal, a rabble-rouser whose birthday would have no significance.
And with Christ¡¯s resurrection, we have confidence.
Confidence in a caring Creator, rather than the chaos of the cosmos.
Confidence in a glorious future, rather than the finality of the grave.
Confidence that sustains us in times of trial and tribulation ¨C in times such as these.
On Easter morning, we do not gather to remember a martyr. We come together to worship the risen Son of God!
Thank God for the Cross and the empty tomb. Thank God for the Good News of Christ¡¯s resurrection.
He is risen! He is risen indeed!