What is the Real Story of Easter?
Brother Lawrence Damien Cos
Today is Easter Sunday the day when we celebrate the resurrection of Christ from the dead. If you come from a traditional, fundamentalist either Protestant or Catholic background you may as I was taught that God was mad at humankind because of their sins and alleged rejection of him. He was so angry that he was going to send us all to hell to burn for eternity unless something was done to placate his wrath. Therefore he sent his son Jesus to die for us so he can be satisfied and let us into his kingdom to spend eternity with him. However is that what Easter is all about making an angry, wrathful God happy? Does God get a kick out of watching his son suffer? If any parent had allowed or did half of what is alleged God allowed his son to go through even though he could have prevented it they would permanent custody of their children at the minimal and end up be hauled to jail for a good long while. So is God the big child abuser in the sky is that who we worship? Is that the story of Easter that God allows his son to be tortured and killed so he can be satisfied and turn his alleged wrath from us and grant mercy to us instead? Did God actually abandon Jesus on the cross allegedly because he couldnâ€™t look on sin? If so then might God if he did it once do it again because of our sins? Again I ask â€śWhat is the Real story of Easterâ€ť?
To answer that question we need to see how Jesus saw and understood his mission and the significance of his death and resurrection. In two places in Matthew and again in Mark Jesus defines his ministry as follows:
â€śFor even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.â€ť
Jesus says his purpose in coming was to be a ransom. So what is a ransom?
According to Strongâ€™s a ransom is an offering of expiation. It is also the purchasing money for ransoming of buying back something. Expiation is the act of making amends or reparations for guilt or wrong doing. Obviously I believe we as sinners are the ones who need to need to be ransomed. The Apostle Paul makes that clean in his letter to the Romans when says â€śall have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Thus we have to look at the question of whom or from what do we ransomed from? To answer that we need to understand to who a ransom is paid a good guy or a bad guy?
A kidnapper kidnaps a child and demands a ransom to release the child safe and unharmed. A person steals an item of value and then demands a reward to give it back or allow it to be ransomed again. Thus we see from these examples that itâ€™s the bad guy who gets the ransom. So who is the bad guy and who is the offended party here? Is God the bad guy or the offended party and if the latter by who is he offended?
God is consistently shown throughout scriptures to be a loving, kind and compassionate God. He is portrayed as loving his people and wanting to bless them. Through the judges and prophets God has one message. He wants his people to serve and love him so he can bless them. Even when he has to punish them its so they get the message and once they do and turn back once again he blesses them. God also reveals plainly his thoughts about his people,
â€śFor I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.â€ť
God is revealed here as having nothing but good thoughts towards us. Those thoughts are thoughts of peace which will give us a future and hope. This is theme is also shared at the close of the New Testament when God says that his ultimate will is for the healing of all nations. Thus God canâ€™t be the bad guy in this situation which leaves him one role which is that of the offended party. Now the question arises who is the bad guy who offends God? Who is the one who facilitates the event which lead to the downfall of our first parents and is therefore the one who actually offended God and whom a ransom needs to be paid to ransom us back again and set us free?
There is only one person in all of history that can fill that bill namely Satan or the devil himself. In Genesis we read how God has created a perfect garden with everything they need for Adam and Eve to take care of. In the center of the garden there are two trees the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The latter they are forbidden to eat from. However Satan in the form of a serpent appears and deceives Adam and Eve into following him thereby stealing what rightfully belonged to God alone. However God is not caught off guard neither do I believe he is angry at Adam and Eve for what has happened.
First God tells the serpent Satan that he will send someone who Satan will bruise his heel but the one coming will crush the head of Satan. Keep that in mind as I will have more to say about that when we get to Calvary and the crucifixion and resurrection of Easter.
Secondly God exclaims the consequences of their actions to Adam and Eve that they wouldnâ€™t be getting away with anything. They would have to pay a penalty.
You may say â€śYes but he punished them by kicking them out of the Garden of Edenâ€ť. I believe that is a wrong understanding and misinterpretation of the scriptures. Kicking them out of the Garden was not an act of punishment but an act of mercy and love. God gives as his reason for driving them out of the garden is so they donâ€™t eat of the tree of life and live forever in a fallen state of sin. He needed time to implement his plan so that all of humankind starting with Adam and Eve and lasting until whenever God chooses to wrap up everything and the end comes. When that action comes it will free the descendants of Adam and Eve (all of humanity) so they can live again in a perfect world governed by the realm of God covering all the earth.
Having said that letâ€™s move on then to the New Testament, Calvary and what I believe is the real story of Easter. First letâ€™s establish a couple of facts so we can understand better the events of Calvary and Easter. Luke says in speaking of the shepherds on that first Christmas night says the saw a host of angels who announce that the savior Jesus has been born. The word savior means a savior, deliverer, and preserver. Thus Jesus is the one who will ransom and deliver us from Satan and his grasp and kingdom into freedom and the kingdom of God. John the Baptist confirms this when he calls Jesus the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Thus we see also in the testimony of John the same message as told by the angels. In this case that Jesus is Godâ€™s perfect sacrifice for the ransoming of all of humankind from the clutches of Satan and making them into children of God.
Keeping this is mind then lets fast forward to the cross of Calvary and see how this all applies. The last words spoken by Jesus before his death are â€śItâ€™s finishedâ€ť. So what is finished what did Christâ€™s death on the cross accomplish? For one thing is paid the ransom for our salvation and deliverance. However thatâ€™s not enough. If we stop at Good Friday then Satan wins as he still holds the keys of death. As long as Jesus is in the grave he is not a threat to Satan or anyone else. That is what Satan is sure has happened and he won in his battle with God. However then Jesus comes Easter morning and lo and behold is alive and well and Satanâ€™s worst nightmare has just begun. Now instead of just one man trying to win a few followers there are millions of people around the world who have Christ living in them and are out as often as they can to deliver people from Satanâ€™s clutches and free them into the kingdom of God and the true liberty of the Children of God. This Satan was not expecting. Paul says
8 which none of the rulers of this age knew; for g had they known, they would not have h crucified the Lord of glory.
So brother and sisters and the family of God are you beginning to see what really transpired at Calvary and what the real story of Easter is all about? It is not about placating some angry God. It is however about the ransoming and redemption of all of human kind through the death of Christ on the cross and the spilling of his precious blood for us. It is the news that Satanâ€™s prison has been destroyed, the doors flung open and we are now free to walk out simply by acknowledging that fact. It is made possible for us because on the cross Jesus triumphed over all the power of the enemy. That fact is seal in the resurrection of Christ to where they keys of death are taken from Satan leaving him with nothing by which he can overcome the true Church of God. All he has to look forward is a future in the lake of fire where he will be tormented forever.
Let me state lest anyone misunderstand where I am coming from that Satan is still alive and a powerful foe. However there are two things I believe we need to see here. One thing is he has had his teeth pulled. All he can do is make suggestions which we either accept and follow or reject out right. If we do accidentally fall all we have tt do is confess which it to agree with God we blew it again, and he will forgive us, pick us back up again, cleanse us off and then restore us back into his good graces and send us on our way again. Secondly the Jesus we serve is more powerful than Satan and proved it by his resurrection. Satan couldnâ€™t prevent us from following Christ and therefore canâ€™t prevent us from serving him/
In closing then Easter is about the ransoming and the redemption of all of humankind. It is to know we are all free and simply need to realize that the prison doors are open and we can walkout anytime we want into a totally brand new life. However the good news doesnâ€™t stop there. We are not expected to live this new life and make the journey on our own through our own efforts. Pentecost is on its way to empower us to be witnesses (martyrs in the Greek) to the ends of the earth. Also to be able to be a witness for him in the ordinary days of our life I all the mundane things of live we have to do to survive. It is remembering as Paul too says that Jesus always leads us in triumph
Today as we celebrate Easter let celebrate the fact we are a ransomed and redeemed people of God. Not only that we have as we will see at Pentecost been empowered to live and complete our journey in victory because of what happened on Calvary. Let that be our message to the world that they too have been freed and can come join us in the kingdom and family of God where all are welcomed and no one is rejected. They too can join our journey and together we will successfully make to the finish line and see Christ face to face. That is what I believe the true story of Easter is about freedom and victory. That I think is a much more exciting and earth changing message that one about placating some angry God. What do you think?
This is one view shared by me alone and shared here for food for thought and another way of looking at Easter. Any comments or thoughts welcomed.
Brother Lawrence Damien Cos