Yesterday we celebrated Easter.
Greetings of “He is risen!” were met with, “He is risen, indeed!” in the halls of our church. Faces were bright, happy, and hopeful.
Worship was enthusiastic and joyful in a way it isn’t on other Sundays. I’m good with that. It is similar to how my affection for my husband is amplified on our anniversary. The annual celebration of our wedding anniversary is more than a nice dinner out, it’s an opportunity to remember our commitment, to celebrate faithfulness, and to look ahead to another year of being married and walking together with Jesus. Celebrating our anniversary inspires affection and renews desire.
The annual celebration of Easter is more than an Easter Egg Hunt and a festive service with like-minded believers. It’s an opportunity to remember God’s commitment, to celebrate his faithfulness, and to look ahead to another year of being in his church and walking with Jesus. Celebrating Easter inspires gratitude and revives my weary heart. I need the annual reminder of God’s sacrifice and victory at Easter the same way I need the weekly reminder of the relevance of scripture for my days through Sunday worship, and a daily reminder of his presence in my moments through personal study and prayer.
I don’t want to move on too quickly from the refreshment I find in an Easter service.
Easter is why we worship.
Easter is about the risen Christ who has set us free to live the life for which God created us.
On Good Friday we think about Jesus on the cross. We should.
We think about him hanging there between two criminals – thieves.
Stop there a minute.
Theft earned crucifixion.
We don’t really think about stealing as a crime deserving the death penalty. We barely view murder as deserving the death penalty!
God takes theft seriously, doesn’t he? As a matter of fact, he takes all sin seriously.
All sin deserves the death penalty – which is why Christ came.
If you think about it, all sin is theft, in a way.
- We are stealing God’s glory when we sin. We tarnish his name by taking the image of God in us and distorting it into something ugly.
- We steal from his world when we abuse the earth rather than exercise dominion over it.
- We steal from his inherent creativity when we create vulgarity instead of beauty.
- We steal from his people when we hoard instead of giving lavishly to others.
- We steal life through abortion, slander, gossip, and silence.
- We steal joy through criticism and judgment, cruelty, envy, and anger.
- We steal innocence and destroy fidelity with our clothing choices, language, and no-fault divorce laws.
I think these are just some of the ways our enemy steals, kills, and destroys. Jesus stands in stark contrast to the thieves hanging beside him, because they deserved to be there for taking, while Jesus came to give (John 10:10).
We don’t think too much about the thieves because we know they at least did something wrong – even if we don’t consider it worthy of the death penalty.
And I think sometimes we don’t think too much about ourselves in that light either. Sure, we did something wrong, but is it really worthy of the death penalty? If our sins came to light – the half-truths, the critical words, the judgmental heart, the coveting spirit, the contention, dissension – and we were condemned to death by lethal injection or electrocution – we’d be outraged! It would seem unjust.
But it’s not.
God said, “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
I need to be reminded of the death penalty I earned by my sin. Not because I live condemned, for “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). No, I need to be reminded of the great debt that was paid.
Easter reminds me of a life characterized by theft, murder, and destruction (even in their lesser forms), and that I have been freed by someone else to live a different life.
The events of the first Easter are why we can worship.
Praise be to God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ through the power of his Spirit who calls us and teaches us to worship him in spirit and in truth!