There's more to this than you think!
There’s more to this than you think!
How would you sum it up? The message of Easter? In a sentence? Here is one man’s attempt. To be fair he hadn’t been asked – as I’ve asked you. Easter, in fact, wasn’t on his mind. But to all intents and purposes it’s what he has given us: his own take on the Easter story.
His name was Festus. He was a Roman governor of the first century and at the time he had a very prestigious prisoner in his custody, Paul the Apostle. Why was Paul a prisoner? Here is Festus’s explanation, made to a petty king by the name of Agrippa. It was all because of “a dead man named Jesus whom Paul claimed was alive” (Acts.25.19).
I make that my starting point because Festus’s summary is not very different from that of many people today. They wouldn’t put it in the same words, of course. But it comes to the same thing. Easter is all about a dead man named Jesus whom Christians claim is alive. That’s about as much as they know. And what is more, it’s about as much as they care to know.
For most people the big things in life are the here and now things. Their jobs, their families, their health, their retirement, their happiness, their hobbies, their friendships. These are the things that matter; the things that absorb their time, their energy, and their thoughts. What do they care about a dead man named Jesus whom Christians say is alive? It’s just not important to them.
If that is where you are, can I ask you to take a moment or two to weigh the following?
Jesus was one amazing man. I once read of a king who from time to time would dress in ordinary clothes and ride the bus like everyone else. He was still the king. It was just that all of the insignia of royalty were invisible. So with Jesus. Only in his case, the truth was more amazing by far. Charles Wesley, in a famous Christmas carol, stated it so well: “Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; hail, th’incarnate Deity”. You wouldn’t have guessed it just by looking. But this was the man who was God. Quite literally.
Jesus’ death was one amazing death. In the town in which I used to live there is a McMullen Road. It was named after a Royal Canadian bomber pilot who sacrificed his life to save others – remaining at the controls of his stricken aircraft until it was clear of the town and the six members of his crew had parachuted to safety. It is a picture of what Jesus himself did. Only in his case, as before, the truth is more amazing by far. For Jesus died to save us from our sins; to deliver us from the eternal punishment to which we had been sentenced; to bring us back to the God from whom we had strayed; to bless us with God’s friendship forever.
And the amazing claim is true! Jesus is alive. He promised that on the third day he would rise to life again. And he did. Paul the Apostle saw him alive. So too a host of others. It was the proof that he had done what he set out to do. To make a way to God. To become the Savior from sin each one of us so badly needs.
Has God so worked in your heart that what you need you want? To be saved? From the guilt and power of sin? So that you might know and love God? He has a promise for you! Whoever calls upon the name of Jesus shall be saved. And God is faithful to his word.