Christians today are celebrating Easter Sunday, the day that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, after giving his life as a sacrifice for the sins of mankind.
Jesus was God’s innocent sacrificial Passover lamb who took the sins of the world on his shoulders as he went to the cross.
As John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
British pastor John Stuart Holden wrote the following during World War I, “We sometimes forget that the mere fact of death has brought a richness into life which it could not else have. It is, for instance, the certainty of death which takes the littleness out of life and invests it with seriousness.
“The elaborate emptiness, the complicated triviality and the carefully planned nonsense which go to the make-up of life for so many, are all revealed in their worthlessness when death intrudes upon any circle in earth’s fellowship of frivolity. It is then that those who are left are ready to listen to the voice of the most eloquent preacher of all, and under his warning to set themselves toward the Life that is life indeed. And it is the enforced recognition of death which energizes men to worthy activities.”
Rev. Holden continues, “Death helps, like nothing else does, toward concentration upon the present duty of living worthily. And it is the sureness of death which puts passion into human love. For it deepens all our relationships, and clothes our friendships with a significance which they could never otherwise wear.
“It gives eyes to our affections and acts as an inspiration to the duties of sympathy and consideration. Hearts are bound closely together when they share the certain knowledge that one day they must be separated far beyond sound of voice and touch of hand. Yes, death has a real mission in making life more fruitful. It gives a value to the present which is beyond all count.”
Finally, Rev. Holden states, “Christ transformed his people’s outlook on death. After death’s reign was defeated, death became but a door into a larger and surer kingdom, a door whose keys the Son of Man wears at his girdle. The act of dying came to be regarded as the mere casting off of a ship’s moorings. Men were bidden to look upon death as a servant ministering to their highest interests.”
Our era is unique in that we scarcely consider death, let alone eternal death. Previous generations, however unfortunate, were all too acquainted with death in ways that are today unimaginable in America. Their faith in an afterlife thereby sustained them.
In this day and age, all that matters is the here and now to most people. They are too busy and distracted to think much about the fate of their souls as it pertains to things eternal. Hence the impetus to go back to a message written over 100 years ago.
Easter represents the blessed hope that any person who realizes they need saving from the guilt, penalty and power of sin in their life, along with the abject fear of death, is welcomed to repent and receive forgiveness and eternal life because the blood of Jesus satisfied God’s penalty for the sins of mankind — the penalty of which was death. If you could earn your way to heaven based upon your own good works and behavior, then Jesus didn’t need to die at Calvary. Hence, Christianity is no glorified self-improvement course.
Alternatively, Christians believe eternal life is theirs only by virtue of the death of Jesus, and the subsequent empty tomb of their risen savior, who conquered death.
Happy Easter Sunday!
Andy Caldwell is the COLAB executive director and host of “The Andy Caldwell Show,” airing 3 to 5 p.m. weekdays on KZSB AM 1290, the News-Press radio station.