The Story of Easter

5 min read

The story of Easter has reverberated throughout the ages. As it has passed from one generation to the next, the significance of this event has never faded. To this day, millions of people find renewed hope as they reflect on and remember the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

The Story of Easter: The Backdrop

To understand the fullness of what Easter means for us, we must first consider the celebration of Passover. The book of Exodus tells us that some 3000 years ago, God saved the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob from captivity in Egypt. These were his people, inheritors of the covenant he had made with Abraham long before. One night, after witnessing the power of God displayed, the Jewish people received their salvation soon after the angel of the Lord swept over the land and brought death to the firstborn son in every family. The Hebrew people, however, were commanded to slaughter unblemished lambs and paint their blood on their doorposts. The angel passed over the houses marked by the blood of the lambs, and this would become a picture of our own salvation.

The meaning of Passover is simple: only God can save his people, and He is in the business of saving.

Easter and Passover

The Passover meal celebrated God’s faithfulness in freeing his people from captivity in Egypt through the blood of many lambs. Easter celebrates God’s faithfulness in freeing his people from our bondage to sin through the blood of the Lamb.

The gospel writer Mark tells us that Jesus shared the Passover meal with his disciples in Jerusalem, as was custom. All around, families were remembering the faithfulness of God, but in one room, at one table, a rabbi was looking to the future, and he saw the faithfulness that was to come. It’s become a famous story, with all the elements that draw us into the art of storytelling: the hero, betrayed by a friend who was driven by greed; the fear and uncertainty of the disciples, which so perfectly mirror our own perplexity at the unexpected turns of life; the villains, seemingly triumphant in their malice, lies, and deception; the ultimate sacrifice of an innocent, willingly given.

A Story about all of us

The story of Easter does not appeal to us because it’s a story about things that we find entertaining. Rather, the story draws us in because it is about us. We are the betrayers, the fearful, the anxious, the villains, and the sinners. Yet, despite the overwhelming gravity of this situation, there is hope to be found in the darkness.

God saves.

For centuries, blood has continued to serve a distinct and sacred purpose for the Jewish people. God had ordained it for atonement, just as it had delivered them from Egypt. Every year at the feast of Passover, unblemished lambs were slaughtered and the blood was sprinkled on the altar in the temple, signifying the continuing covenant of God with his people. But at Easter, blood was spilled to atone for sin for the very last time.

Our sin!

Victory over sin and death

The story of Easter is the fulfilment of that which was foreshadowed by Passover. Like the Israelites in their bondage to the Pharaohs, our natural state of being is one of captivity to sin. It has a hold over us that we cannot resist in our own strength. Such is the problem of the human condition. In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul describes sin as entering the world through one man, Adam. Paul sees this sin as saturating the world and leading to death and destruction.

But the hope he recognises in Jesus Christ is one of freedom and victory! He argued that just as one man introduced sin into the world, another man made grace and righteousness freely available. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the unblemished Lamb of God, offers the only way for all of us to regain righteousness in the eyes of a holy God. Even more good news follows as he states that faith, not works, receives this salvation. We don’t need to improve ourselves; Jesus accomplishes that!

This is the victory we proclaim at Easter. By dying on the cross, Jesus carried our sin and endured God’s justice towards it. By rising to new life, Jesus took away death—the penalty of sin—and secured eternal life for us. This was not a transactional sacrifice, in which people did something and God responded. Rather, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is a display of the love of God towards his created people. As Paul says in Romans 5:8, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

The Story Of Easter: A new hope

God has acted by providing his Son as a sacrifice for our own sin and brokenness. How we respond does not change the truth of this; but it does change us.

To respond to the work of God at Easter is to place faith in Jesus Christ. Paul puts it like this:

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. (Romans 5:1).

Sin is the problem, and grace is the solution. To access this grace, Paul tells us that we are to have faith in Jesus – the one who died and rose again. This means believing that he is who he said he is, and that he did what he said he would do. It means trusting that what he has done on the cross is enough for us to be made clean and whole again. And faith is surrendering to the God who gave his only Son for our freedom and victory.

The human condition can feel hopeless. Our world can look as though it is getting darker. But the story of Easter gives us a new hope that God, the one who saves, can still save us.

He hasn’t stopped bringing freedom to his people!

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