By Bill Webb
A couple thousand years ago — on what the Bible calls the third day — all heaven broke loose. The occasion was the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, the ultimate contrast to His agonizing death on a cross and burial in a donated tomb two days earlier. Easter, or Resurrection Sunday, has been the most important Christian holiday ever since.
The story makes for good theater. Indeed, movies about this series of events have done well at the box office. Paintings depicting the series of events during Holy Week are memorable as artists through the centuries have tried to capture the meaning — the essence — of this compelling week in the life of Christ.
Alas, Easter has become highly commercialized, reduced to just another holiday by candy, stuffed animal, clothing and greeting card industries — and a willing public. Perhaps the secular celebration has been a mechanism to soften the spiritual edge that is at the heart of the resurrection event.
For Christians, Easter is not simply a good story or another holiday. It is at the heart of faith itself, and its implications are both immediate and eternal. Long after the last Easter egg has been consumed or a fine outfit has been outgrown, Easter and its Savior remain. Undoubtedly, some who celebrate Easter as just another American holiday find themselves wondering if there isn't more to this Christian holiday.
The words of Jesus in John 3:16 explain God's purpose for entering the world as a man, dying on a cross for the sins of people and then conquering death by His own resurrection:
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
To some, the whole notion that the Christ whose glory fills all of creation would reduce Himself to a mere person — and a poor one, at that — is beyond belief. That anyone would love others enough to absorb the penalty for their sins seems even farther beyond belief. But that was — and is — the plan hatched by God.
Human nature says this plan is too good to be true. In fact, God's plan for reconciling human creation to Himself is not only true, it is immediately accessible. It is the Good News above any other good news, no matter who you are or how bad your record to this point.
Accepting Christ isn't necessarily painless. In the Bible, Jesus confronted a Samaritan woman dipping water from the same public well where He had paused to rest. Their conversation focused on comparative religion and semantics until this lady acknowledged the sin that Jesus already knew she harbored. No doubt, acknowledging — confessing — her failures was painful. It is for every would-be follower.
For the woman, repentance freed her to understand her need of a relationship in her life that had redemptive qualities. To her credit, she discovered it in Jesus and responded — joyfully. Not everyone responds to Jesus with a yes.
Jesus submitted to questioning by a young man who would have been a welcome catch for most organizations. He lived a good life by society's standards. A good religious boy, he had handled his money well, so well that many regarded him as rich. But something was missing in his life. He couldn't place loyalty to Christ ahead of his regard for his many possessions. Unlike the woman at the well, he left Jesus still unfulfilled, still not reconciled to God, still feeling empty.
That's the nature of the resurrection event. Believers sing the old hymn, "Jesus Paid It All," but the decision to accept His offer always is up to the individual. The woman at the well could have been offended by Jesus' knowledge of her sinful lifestyle and scurried back to town. Fortunately for her, she chose a relationship with Christ. When she hurried back to town, it was to tell everyone else about her remarkable discovery. The rich young ruler had the option of saying, "Yes, Lord," but he left saying, "No, thank you."
If you have already made a decision for Christ, rejoice. You might consider printing this column or e-mailing and sharing it with a friend who needs to make the same decision. If you have never responded positively to God's personal invitation, now is the best time. Don't miss out on all that God has planned for your life, including an eternity with Him in heaven. God bless.