Easter day 2009 is now over and to Christians all over the world, the greatest gift ever given from God freely given to everyone who will accept was celebrated all around the world. As my wife and I were celebrating Easter with our local church during the last of the four services held there and later in the day as I was watching several pastors on TV tell the story of Easter to their church and TV viewers, the question of, “Why does anyone believe the story of Easter?” occurred to me.
To me the story of Easter is clearly understood and has been from when I was just a child as my parents explained it to me, it was taught to me during Sunday school, through the many church services that I have attended and from my study of the New Testament. Not everyone however has experienced the loving care that my God loving parents gave to me, the careful instruction given to me by the God loving Sunday school teachers and the time, planning and leadership I’ve experienced from the various God loving pastors I have had the pleasure of hearing preach the word of God.
There are many of you out there who have had just the opposite of my experiences and others of you who have had experiences somewhere in between these extremes. This thus has lead me to give to you the story of Easter as I understand it. My prayer is that you understand my teaching of Easter to you and that you will make a wise choice to learn more about God and His Son Jesus Christ.
To help someone understand Easter, one just cannot start out with telling someone that Jesus rose from the dead after He was hanging on a cross until He died and that His death and rising from the dead was done to pay for your and my sins and expect that everyone right off the bat believe it without question. The reason for this is that this is only a part of the story albeit the primary part of the Easter story, it is only a part of it. To truly understand the Easter story, one must start from the beginning.
Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Yep, we have to start from the very beginning for the story of Easter to be fully told. After God created the heavens and the earth, He later created man and then woman as told in Genesis 1:27.
Once God had created all of creation, He gave man work to do in the garden that was in Eden which God had just created and informed man that he was to freely eat from everything but from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 2:15-17 Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. The LORD God commanded the man, saying, "From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die."
A point to understand here is that God is Love.1 God’s love for man is displayed in God’s giving man boundaries within the garden. You may say to yourself, “Well if God loved man He’d have not put that tree of good and evil in the garden.” or “If God loved man he would have given man the knowledge to not eat of the tree of good and evil.” or “If God loved man God would not have let man eat from the tree of good and evil.” or something to this. Think about this for a moment. When you were a child, did you not get from someone at sometime a loving instruction to “not” do something because if you were to do it that something “bad” could happen to you? If you did not, I feel for you that no one loved you enough to give you boundaries for your guidance and growth. As an adult, do we not have “laws” to which we should follow or if caught breaking pay some sort of penalty be it monetary, imprisonment or both? If you do not follow the law, I feel for you that no one has loved you enough to inform you to do so so that you will at some point have to pay for your breaking the law if you are not doing so already. By the way, please do not break the law. You see, there is no love without boundaries. Think of everything where there is true love and you will find boundaries; some larger and some smaller than others but there are boundaries. It is each of our choice to which we adhere to staying within the boundaries or not.
Well, as we all know as we being mankind, we cannot stay within the boundaries now and the beginning of us not staying within boundaries goes back to that tree of knowledge of good and evil in the garden in Eden when man broke the very first command God asked of man to follow. Genesis 3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
Not only did man eat, man also did something many husbands do today, he blamed someone else for his actions, his wife. Man’s wife in turn did not take responsibility for her actions either in that she placed blame on being deceived by a serpent. Genesis 3:12-13 The man said, "The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate." Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" And the woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."
Here we have the introduction to “sin” in mankind coming into man’s knowledgebase of good and evil. That tree to which God did request man to not eat of did indeed open mankind’s eyes to good and evil because man at that point man knew he had done wrong in not following God’s command and that now was subject to death because God had given warning that to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil one would die. So man used his free will to and chose to disobey God. Only one request made by God for man to follow; only one command and from that not so bright choice man made it placed man in separation from God and as God had said, man will surely die.
God is the beginning of knowledge and as such, knows everything.2 Long before man ever ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, God had already set up a wonderful path of redemption for man’s sinful nature. Genesis 3:14-15 The LORD God said to the serpent [Satan], "Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you will go, And dust you will eat All the days of your life; And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel."
From this first prophecy in the Old Testament book of Genesis chapter 3 verse 15 we learn that God has a path of redemption for man that will bruise the serpent’s [Satan’s] head. How loving God is to have already planned for man’s sinful nature in His already having a path of redemption for man! Knowing that man would not follow His request, God set up a loving gift for all mankind to use their free will to chose to accept the path of redemption to which God places no stringent rules to follow, no special chant to chant, no undue pressure or coercion placed upon anyone to accept it and no works needed done by any to accept it. God’s only request for those who want to accept the free path of redemption is that He wants those who will accept to place their faith into the path of redemption He created.
Later in the Old Testament we find out more about God’s path of redemption for man. For example the Old Testament book of Isaiah, chapter 53 prophesizes how the one sent by God will be received, opposed, oppressed, and would be dying for our sin. So loving of God to give to us advance notice of the path of redemption He provides to us so that we can clearly see it and follow it for we can know for sure that it is the truth and not mere coincidence or happenstance. Clearly told to us way in advance so that we can make a wise choice to accept the free path of redemption, God insures to all who will accept it that it is theirs to freely choose. Wh
at a wonderful love for us God has for each and every one of us!
As we find out in the New Testament, Jesus, God’s only begotten Son fulfills each of the many prophesizes made throughout the Old Testament making Him God’s path of redemption for us. For you and for me, Jesus freely chose to come into this world to save us from our sin. Through His living His life here on earth without committing any sin, Jesus lived His life fully per God’s will. In being falsely judged by man to be wrongfully found guilty, Jesus took upon our sins. By His freely giving up His life, dying on the cross, Jesus took the place of you and me so that we would not have to die for our sins. With His rising from the dead, Jesus closed the separation man created between man and God and became the path of redemption God planned all along.
To summarize the whole story of Easter; God created everything, man disobeyed God, God told man there would be a path of redemption for man to freely choose, God sent His only begotten Son Jesus to live a perfect life on earth who was falsely accused, tried and wrongfully found guilty and was put upon a cross, died and rose from the dead as the path of redemption for man to accept as savior from man’s sinful nature. The New Testament book of John states it better than me:
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. "This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. "For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. "But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God."
Now what makes me believe the whole story of Easter isn’t that the Old Testament book of Genesis was written somewhere around the year 1450-1410 BC. Nor it isn’t that the Old Testament book of Isaiah was written somewhere around 700 BC. It isn’t even that the New Testament books were written between the years of around 65 AD and 70 AD. What makes me believe the whole story of Easter is the wonderful feeling I have knowing that God loves me so much that before I was ever born, He had set up for me such a loving path of redemption for me to freely choose so that I could make a wise choice of my own making to choose to accept Jesus as my savior, knowing that God loves me and wants to be with me. That’s why I believe the whole story of Easter.
How about you? Are you going to make a wise choice and choose to accept the path of redemption God planned for you before you ever existed?
1) 1 John 4:8 – The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
2) Proverbs 1:7 – The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.