The significance of Easter

Published 10:17 pm Friday, March 16, 2018

By Thurman Hayes

As the calendar turns to March, Christians begin to look forward to Easter. Although Christmas has become the biggest holiday in our culture, Christians know that Easter is the most biblically significant. At Christmas we remember the incarnation of Christ, that God became man. But why did God become man? To rescue sinners like us. And how did he do that? By dying for our sins and rising from the dead! That is what we remember and celebrate at Easter.

During the weeks leading up to Easter, sometimes called Lent, we focus on the cross and the resurrection, which are at the heart of our faith.

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During this time of year, I like to read a good book on the events of the Passion. This year I have chosen to read “The Cross of Christ,” by John Stott.

John Stott was a British pastor and author who died in 2011. For a quarter-century, he pastored All Souls Church, in London. All Souls Church is right across the street from the British Broadcasting Corporation. Just as the BBC has a worldwide influence, John Stott had a worldwide influence on Christians. He continues to have an incredible influence through his writings.

If you are a Bible study teacher or preacher, I highly recommend that you use Dr. Stott’s biblical commentaries in your teaching or preaching. He was amazingly gifted at bringing out the richness of the biblical text. And I would recommend that you read his classic, “The Cross of Christ.”

As we approach Easter, let us meditate on what Jesus has done for us. The Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.”

This is the good news, the gospel, at the heart of Christianity. First, Jesus “died for our sins.” We are all sinners in need of a Savior. Romans 3:23 tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” God is holy and perfectly righteous. He is morally obligated to punish sin and evil, and we are all guilty. But the good news is that God loved us so much that He took our place. He substituted himself for us, dying for our sins upon the cross. Second, He was “raised on the third day.” This was no spiritual resurrection, but a bodily resurrection. Jesus really came walking out of the tomb on the third day, with a real, glorified body.

What does this mean for us? It means that if we turn to Jesus in repentance and faith, receiving him as our Savior and King, we are united to the only One who can save us. Only Jesus, who had no sin, could die for ours. And his resurrection guarantees the resurrection of all who trust in him.

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:20, “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” Those who die in Christ go to be with him. When he returns, we will be raised with imperishable bodies. Reflect on these glorious promises with me as we approach Easter!

Dr. Thurman R. Hayes Jr. is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Suffolk. Follow him on Twitter at @ThurmanHayesJr.