The Easter season is a wonderful opportunity for Christians everywhere to unite as we praise our living, risen Savior! I think that Pope John Paul II expressed the Christian perspective on the resurrection so well when he said, "We are the Easter people and 'hallelujah' is our song!"
When we celebrate Easter, we commemorate one of the most wonderful--and important--days in all history. I say "one," because without both the day of Jesus' birth and the day of His death, there never could have been that day that He arose in victory! Jesus' sojourn on Earth and those milestones were a complete package. His birth, death, and resurrection were like a domino effect. One event caused the other to happen, and without the preceding event, the next one could not have taken place. All had to be fulfilled in order to produce the final victory. There had to be the agony of the cross in order for there to be the joy of the empty tomb.
Jesus' birth and resurrection are happy, joyful events--and we love to hear about them and celebrate them! At the same time, we know there was the pain, the heartache, the sacrifice, the fierce fight against evil, the afflictions, the temptations. There was the great agony and bitter sorrow that our Savior endured for us during His life and final days. But these were all necessary for the ultimate victory to be won.
Even though this was a "man of sorrows" who was "acquainted with grief," He also laughed and danced and sang! He brought joy to those around Him! The deep pain in His life did not overshadow the great joy (Isa.53:3; John 15:11, 17:13).
Anything so unspeakably priceless as Jesus offering His life in payment for our sins must have required years of intense preparation. It took immense strength of spirit and depth of character and closeness to His Father in order to accomplish such a colossal mission--His ultimate goal.
Even then, in the midst of facing what He had to do, Jesus requested that the Father would let the cup pass from Him (Mat.26:39). What was the cup? It was His great agony and the suffering that He would have to endure. But I think it was even more. I picture His cup filled with the sins of the world!--All the sins that had ever been committed--past, present and future. As a paraphrasing of 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, "For God took the sinless Christ and poured into Him our sins. Then, in exchange, He poured God's goodness into us." It was like Jesus drank--took in--the evil, the wickedness, the depravity, the iniquity, and the transgressions of the entire world, in order to overcome them.
The way I see Jesus bearing our sins is not externally, like a world-sized backpack. Rather, I picture all the forces of evil being poured into the cup that He took up and imbibed in the spirit. Out of love for us, He who knew no sin became sin for us and was made a curse for us, so that through His death He could destroy sin's power over those who would come to Him (2Cor.5:21; Heb.2:14; Gal.3:13; 1Pet.2:24).
Our human intellects, no matter how brilliant, can never fully understand these deep spiritual truths. However, physical illustrations of these concepts, even though insufficient at their best and "seen through a glass darkly," can at least help us to a partial, very limited understanding. Jesus taking our sins and evil into Himself could be symbolically likened to a terminal disease permeating the body and infiltrating the cells. His becoming sin for us was like His taking into Himself the disease of our sins and the resulting consequence of death.
The Bible says that Jesus poured out His soul unto death, and set us free through His blood (Isa.53:12). The cup now symbolizes new life through His blood shed for us (1Cor.11:25). Sin, death, ungodliness, and all that is evil is swallowed up in victory (1Cor.15:54). We were crucified with Him, along with all of the evil of mankind, and the full settlement for all sin for all time was made. The Scripture says, "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me" (Gal.2:20; Rom.5:8-11, 6:6-11).
He Who was the Spirit of Love and the Spirit of Life was destroyed in the flesh, but His Spirit could not be destroyed (Luke 23:46; 1Pet.3:18). What was destroyed for all who turn to Jesus was the power of sin and death, the spirit of the world, and those spiritual forces bound to them. Their power was broken and conquered by Christ for any who would receive His gift of sacrificial love. All the potential of the universe was released--when Christ's victory over death was won.
The resurrection and its results are worth repeatedly examining, since in this--one of the greatest moments of history--we continue to find Easter wonders.
He delivered us from death and the law so that we could serve in newness of life (Rom.7:6), and so that we can say with the apostle Paul: "The love of Christ constrains me" (2Cor.5:14-21). As we consider the miracle of Easter, let it motivate us to join in the same adventure!
May you and your loved ones have a meaningful Easter, as we all commemorate the undying love of the One who gave His life for all humankind.
("Rock of Ages" courtesy of ASK)