The only hope of our salvation was for our sin, guilt and punishment to be laid on someone else. God’s holiness, justice and righteousness demand that sin be dealt with, all sin! Feeling sorry for us, looking the other way and ignoring it would violate his perfect character. Sin had to be judged, condemned and God’s righteous wrath had to be poured out on sin and sinners. God’s one and only Son came into the world, taking on human flesh and form, to accomplish just that. His “enfleshment” is what we celebrate at Christmas. Throughout the journey of his life on earth Jesus was perfectly obedient to the laws and commands of his Father. Something none of us could ever even hope to do. The climax came when Jesus Christ took on all of the sins of the world, into his own body, and carried them to a Roman cross where he died for them. He died to pay the penalty for them, to destroy them, and to satisfy God’s fury and wrath against them. In the resurrection we have the proof that the sacrifice was indeed sufficient for our sins, for the sins of the world. In rising from the dead Jesus claims victory over death and the devil, and gives us the sure promise that we too will rise again in the body to live forever in God’s kingdom. In rising for the dead we are given, by faith, the righteousness, the perfection, of Christ and now stand justified before God the Father, accepted by him for all eternity. Our perfect relationship with him has been reconciled by the life, death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ. Easter is the pinnacle of our life in Christ, our eternal life as a member of God’s family and heirs of his kingdom!
A quick look at economic data shows that the world has its priorities mixed up. In the world, and unfortunately all too often in the Church, it’s Christmas that takes center stage each year. The economic impact of Christmas adds up to more than $500 BILLION each year around the world…that’s half a trillion. An average of 720 thousand employees are hired for temporary duty to cover increase in business. Easter, on the other hand, accounts for about $17 billion in retail sales. That’s quite substantial but only 3.5% of the impact of Christmas. That makes Christmas, in worldly terms, about 30 times more important than Christmas!
Of course there is far more to it than the economic impact, but in this fallen world we usually measure things according to money, and truth be told, that was the easiest measure for me to find in the internet. But I think the point is very valid. We don’t give Easter its due…its proper attention. Easter is “The Big One” in terms of our Christian lives, and in terms of our life on earth. Without Easter Christmas would have no meaning, no importance. Christmas marks the beginning of the earthly Journey of Jesus Christ, the God-man. Easter is the point in which the entire mission, that of saving the world from sin and death, has been accomplished. It’s the victory celebration for heaven and earth.
We, the Church, are Easter people. We worship on Sunday as a continuing celebration of the resurrection, of our new life in Christ. That resurrection was of primary importance to the early Church, as Christmas, the birth of Christ, may not even been officially recognized until the 4th century AD. The first recorded celebration came about in 326AD. Like the first Christians, let’s put the resurrection, Easter, at the center of our celebration of faith. This is “THE BIG ONE!” Let’s let our joy and thanksgiving overflow to everyone around us.