March 2005

easterThe last Sunday in this month is Easter Sunday. The whole body of Christians will be celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. With Mel Gibson's film The Passion of Christ still fresh in our minds, we can't help but remember Christ's suffering at Calvary three days prior to His resurrection.

What Is Your View?

Easter was originally the name of a pagan festival honoring Eostre, a Teutonic goddess of light and spring. At the time of the vernal equinox (the day in the spring when the sun crosses the equator and day and night are of equal length), sacrifices were offered in her honor.

Our society views Easter from many different perspectives. I don't personally know anyone who worships Eostre today, but there is the Easter bunny story. Not until the eighth century was the word used for the annual Christian celebration of the resurrection of Christ. We celebrate it on the first Sunday following the full moon that occurs after March 21st. For Christians, Jesus resurrected on the first day of the week which is Sunday.

In the King James Version of the Bible, the word for Easter is a mistranslation of pascha, the Greek word for "Passover". 1 The festival of Passover commemorates the people of Israel's departure from slavery in Egypt. They sacrificed a lamb and placed it's blood on the lintel and door posts of their houses, so God would "pass over" their houses when He destroyed all the firstborn of Egypt. 2

Over fifteen hundred years later, Jesus was crucified in the city of Jerusalem during the Passover week. Jesus ate the Passover meal together with His disciples on the eve of His death. Like the blood of the lamb that saved the Hebrew people from destruction in Egypt, the blood of Jesus, as the ultimate Passover sacrifice, redeems us from the power of sin and death. 3

Lord, Open Our Eyes!

The analogy concerning Jesus as our Passover Lamb could be enlarged greatly, but it would go beyond the scope of this article. Nevertheless, it is very important to see and develop the knowledge of God's view of Easter. Our Heavenly Father had a plan from the foundation of the world to save His people by the blood of the Lamb. 4This plan is known in Scripture as the manifold wisdom of God. 5 Christ and the church is considered a great mystery. God's secret plan has now been revealed to us; it is a plan centered on Christ, designed long ago according to his good pleasure. 7

When I was growing up in Texas, I went to church with my parents until I went off to college. During those years, I went to Sunday school, sang the hymns and could quote the Apostles Creed from memory, but I never spiritually understood the Good News of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. I can't remember ever praying for God to reveal His love and wisdom to me, although He promises that if we ask for wisdom, He will give it liberally without fail. 8

The Apostle Paul prays that the Father of glory would reveal to us His secret plan through the spirit of wisdom and understanding, so that we might grow in our knowledge of God's love. Let's pray with Paul that our hearts will be flooded with light so that we can understand the wonderful future, the glorious inheritance and the incredible power God has promised for us who believe. 9

Our prayer is simply for God to reveal His love to us. As we spiritually understand the sacrifice of Jesus Christ through His death, burial and resurrection, our eyes are opened to God's expression of love for us all. Let's pray with Paul that our roots may go down deep into the soil of God's marvelous love. And may we have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love really is. That we may experience the love of Christ. That we be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God's love. 10

Reflecting On God's Love

The understanding of God's love grows in our heart, as we reflect on all He has done for us. One of the purposes of the annual Passover festival is to remember God's loving deliverance by symbolically acting it out with the Passover meal as described in Exodus 12. Similarly, we celebrate the Lord's Supper regularly in remembrance of God's love through the blood and body of Jesus, reflecting upon our Lord's death until he returns. By celebrating these ordinances, the meditations of our heart becomes not only a physical expression of God's love for us, but an expression of our faith and love for God.

As Christians, our meditations are to magnify the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He took our judgment for sin and forgave us for past, present and future sins 2000 years ago. To the contrary, many Christians magnify their sins, not partaking in the Lord's Supper because they are so sin conscious. They misinterpret Paul's admonition to the church in Corinth, Greece, to not partake in the Lord's Supper unworthily. It had become an unruly love feast, done unworthily, not in remembrance of the Lord's death. Paul urged them to examine their behavior and to see themselves in light of the blood and body of Christ. 11 As a result of rightly understanding the Lord's body, they would not feel unworthy and act in an unworthy manner. They were to view themselves dead with Christ and alive with Him as a new creation, a whole new species of being. 12

If anyone has a reason to condemn themselves for past sins, I do. The murders that old man "Tex" committed thirty-five years ago could have consumed me if the Lord had not opened my eyes to His great love for me. When I sin, I acknowledge it and by faith receive God's forgiveness supplied at Calvary. As I live with the revelation of God's love for me, the attitude of my mind is renewed to my old man's death and the spiritual resurrection of my new man with Christ, which is created in righteousness and true holiness. 13 I see myself as having an entirely new identity, as God sees me, rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the Kingdom of His dear Son. Jesus purchased my freedom with his blood and has forgiven all my sins. 14

A Time Of Celebration

This Easter can be a time of celebration when we come to understand our resurrection with Christ. The Apostle Paul considered all else as garbage when compared to his experience of oneness with Christ and His resurrection. He desired to learn what it means to suffer with Christ, sharing in His death, so that somehow he could experience the resurrection from the dead. 15 This is why we pray for the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God's love and the power of His resurrection.

Let me assure you that it is not boring to have a mind filled with God's love for us. On the contrary, it is the most exciting life of freedom that you can possibly experience. Nothing compares to the promises we have in Christ. Everyday of my life is filled with the presence of God's love. The love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given to us. 16

The revelation of God's love is the healing agent for every area of our lives. The wisest man of all time, King Solomon, said: "Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint." 17 In other words, without a vision of God's redemptive revelation, we perish from the unrestrained penalty and power of sin, which is a life of continual pain. But with the vision, we have progressive healing working in our life on a daily basis.

We know those areas of our life that are so glaringly wrong can only be restrained by this heavenly vision. This is why we celebrate, speaking to ourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in our heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 18

Jesus says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 19 If you haven't, won't you believe in Christ and receive His everlasting life today?

A Prayer For You...

"Dear Father, I believe that Your Son, Jesus Christ, paid the price for my sin with His blood, was buried and rose from the dead. I desire a rich experience of knowing Your love for me with real certainty this Easter. I receive the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Your love. Fill my thoughts with a desire for Your Word, calling, inheritance and power, so that I don't spend time worrying about earthly things. Amen!"

Footnotes:

1) Acts 12:4 KJV
2) Ex. 12:7-13, 22, 23
3) 1 Cor. 5:7
4) Rev. 13:8
5) Eph. 3:10
6) Eph. 5:32
7) Eph. 1:9
8) Jm. 1:5
9) Eph. 1:17-19 NLT
10) Eph. 3:17-19 NLT

11) 1 Cor. 11:17-34 NLT
12) 2 Cor. 5:17
13) Eph. 4:23, 24
14) Col. 1:13, 14 NLT
15) Phil. 3:7-11
16) Rom. 5:5
17) Pro. 29:19 NKJ
18) Eph. 5:19, 20
19) John 3:16

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