Thursday, 13 April 2017

Passover 1 - The Significance of Easter

 There is something in human nature that longs to memorialise our past. Weddings, birthdays, and anniversaries of various events; marriage, death, and employment to name a few. Facebook even likes to remind us of what we posted on this day numerous years ago, which I often enjoy. Especially as I look back on how much my boys have grown. This is true, not just on an individual level, but a social-collective level too. Public holidays like Australia Day, Remembrance Day, and the American Independence Day are days set aside to remember significant events in their past. And now that school holidays are upon us, we are approaching one of the most significant memorials in the Christian calendar: Easter. A time when followers of Jesus remember His death, burial, and resurrection. Although Christmas is typically a much bigger celebration, owing to its commercialisation, Scripture makes a much bigger deal over Jesus’ death and resurrection then it does His birth. In fact, Scripture never once tells us to memorialise His birth. It does, however, tell us to memorialise His death. We have in the words of Paul:
“For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes” (1Cor 11:26). 
Now, the incarnation and birth of Jesus is a very significant event in salvation history, please don’t misunderstand me on that. Obviously without the incarnation nothing else would have been possible. What I am wanting to show is the weight and significance Scripture places upon the Passion event compared to Christ's birth.

The death and resurrection of Jesus is far more significant for two key reasons.
The first is that, as Paul said, our faith hinges not on the incarnation, but the resurrection:
“if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” (1Cor 15:14)
The other, is because of what it achieved for those who put their faith in and follow Jesus:
A share in Jesus’ victory over sin and death.
Eternal life
Reconciliation with God.
Forgiveness of sins.
Becoming a new creation.
The appointment of becoming an ambassador for the Kingdom.
The empowerment to live as God created us to live.
The implications of the very fact that we can be restored back to our original purpose for which we were created, which was corrupted by sin, is just incredible. And that my creator did that for me, to have left the comforts of heaven where He enjoyed constant praise, to come and endure the junk of this world, enduring rejection and accusation is mind blowing.  Or as I have heard elsewhere, He went from ‘Holy Holy Holy!’ to ‘Crucify him, Crucify him, Crucify him!’
As Paul said to the Philippians:
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Phil 2:5-8)
Christ’s setting aside of His status in order to bring about Salvation makes Him truly worthy of our praise and worship. I like how Jeremy Riddle puts it in his song, This is Amazing Grace:

What other king leaves his throne?...
What other king leaves his glory to die?...
This is amazing grace,
This is unfailing love,
That You would take my place,
God, that You would bear my cross,
You would lay down Your life,
That I would be set free;
Jesus, I sing for
All that You've done for me.

The significance and weight of the Passion event demonstrates not only the praiseworthy character of Jesus, but also the importance of its memorialisation. Are we putting in the same effort, energy, and enthusiasm, even finances, to celebrating the cross and the empty tomb as we would Christmas, if not more? Shouldn't we be investing more in celebrating the things Scripture encourages us to observe than the celebrations inherited from tradition? During this season, may our Easter cheer outshine our Christmas spirit.

In part 2, we will begin to consider how Scripture intended us to memorialise the death and resurrection of Jesus.


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