by Dr. Foster H. Shannon
Easter Sunday is this week. It is the most recognized of all Christian celebrations. Why is it so significant? For many, it is a spring festival with parades, Easter egg hunts, dressing up, possibly remembering some of the nice things that Jesus has said. But for Easter Sunday, we reach much deeper than that. It is God’s challenge to the powers and forces of evil, who sought the destruction of
Jesus, through arrest, false trials, and execution. The Devil would no longer have to worry about the Son of God promised by the Old Testament prophets. Those who feared the teachings of Jesus could ignore them. Those who saw in him a threat to their cordial relations with the Romans would be freed from concern. Sin would be victorious!
Jesus was beaten, humiliated, crucified. His death was pronounced. He was buried in a tomb, a large stone was rolled against the opening, and a military guard was set before it. This was all on “Good Friday”. The followers of Jesus were all convinced that he was dead; thus, his burial in the tomb with the care of Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. On the Sabbath (Saturday) the followers of Jesus rested. Early Sunday morning a number of believing women went to the tomb, with the purpose of completing the burial process for Jesus. When they arrived, they found the stone rolled away from the opening of the tomb. The Roman guard had fled, and the women encountered angels who told them that Jesus was not dead—that he was alive. They ran to report what they had seen and heard to the
disciples. Mary Magdalene lingered near the tomb and encountered Jesus—not expecting to see him—supposed that he was the gardener, and inquired what had happened to the body of Jesus. Then she recognized Jesus and worshiped him. He was not dead; he was alive.
The powers and forces of evil had met defeat with the resurrection of Jesus. More than that the forgiveness of sins for all who would believe in him had been secured! The New Testament recounts what many had been unable to understand: the efforts to destroy the Messiah, The Son of God, the Savior had failed. But there was something more. The Old Testament, written prior to the earthly life of Christ, and the New Testament, shortly after his death, tell us that the purposes of God had been fulfilled.
All of us are sinful. We have broken the commandments of God. We have ignored the prompting of our consciences. We have deeply offended a perfect and righteous God. He could not and will not overlook the depth of our sin. His justice demands either condemnation or atonement for all of us. The Heavenly Father offered his Son as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of all who will believe in him and trust in him. Jesus on the cross was the offering to God to endure the penalty for the sins of all who would believe. The Trinity made this possible. God is one, yet Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Thus, God could be in heaven condemning his Son for our sins and, at the same time, become the sin offering enabling God to forgive our sins.
There is good reason to worship and celebrate at Easter. The resurrection of our Saviour was a stupendous work on the part of God. It was a rebuke to all that is evil, and it was the assurance of triumph for all who believe in Jesus Christ. Let us rejoice as we worship on Easter Sunday!
More about Foster… Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.
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