Easter

Today you will be with me in paradise (Luke 23:43)

Unlike Christmas, Easter theologically forms the central part of both the Old and New Testament. For the Old Testament it is the fulfilment of the suffering servant who will save the people. Similarly, for the New Testament it is the majestic mystery of the sacrificial Son of God who through his death overcame all sickness and disease and ushered in the salvation hope for mankind.

An interesting feature of the calvary story is the two crucified side by side of Jesus. While one criminal mocks Jesus with the gawking throng, the other rebukes him, saying, ‘We are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he says, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Jesus then turns and says, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise (Greek: Paradeisos, which can be translated Garden of Eden. Contextually it is far more likely that the Greek alludes to meaning a pleasant temporary 'heaven like place' in Hades the waiting place for virtuous saints until the end of the age).’

How extraordinary is this statement. Here we have a criminal who has no chance for recompense, no opportunity to say sorry or to make amends for his crimes and lifestyle. He is even in the actual process of dying, like Jesus he is bleeding and struggling for breath, hanging from a cross under a Middle Eastern sun, by a thin thread of life.

All the criminal does is recognise his guilt and that Jesus is God. One might say (by religious standards) hardly a confession at all. Yet this turn of heart, this moment of time is time enough for Jesus to accept him and give him salvation.

The Intimacy of God’s ultimate Sacrifice

It is fairly pointless to accuse God that somehow it is either easier for Him, or that He doesn’t understand, or even that he is not fair in His dealings. However terrible our suffering may be, we can’t blame God. The Bible teaches us that the circumstances we have today are a result of our original and habitual rejection of God and His ways. In mercy He set through His Son the very Image of Himself as a sacrificial lamb, a ‘paymaster' for sin. Most religions at their core understand that in essence the universe is in some kind of balance and subject to 'cause and effect'. God made a perfect plan that mankind rejected, he made us living beings with freewill. Sadly, humanity rejected God and caused failure in the world on many levels. However, in His mercy our failure still ultimately leads back to God through accepting Jesus. Jesus was as scripture teaches us the sacrificial lamb. Mankind in its heart knows all about sacrifice and our ancestors have been doing it for thousands of years in vain hope that the sacrifice of animals and humans will fix the problem. 

God chose to pay for this terrible situation by the ultimate sacrifice of all; to offer Himself on the throne of judgement, to fully pay the price through the cross. Philosophically if God made everything then He is by nature above everything, so His personal sacrifice is more than enough. Through Jesus Christ, God is connected fully with the human condition, with pain at its most extreme level. 

At some time in most people’s lives they find themselves in fearful and dark places and it is in this time remembering the sacrifice of a loving God through Jesus that we know He is both there with us and familiar with loss, pain and death.

Click below for related topics:

Christology

Deity of Christ

One God

Salvation

Trinity

The Easter Deception - Little eggs and fluffy chicks? 

Did you actually believe eggs and bunnies have anything to do with the resurrection? There is much that could be said about ancient religious roots that are sandwiched beneath the most sacred of Christian remembrances: Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection. There is significant historical evidence that links our fascination with eggs, bunnies and wrong attitudes to sexuality originating in two pagan goddesses. 

1) Ishtar the Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility and sex

2) Eostre the Germanic pagan goddess of sex and fertility (who oddly actually does have associations with bunnies and eggs).

Fundamentally whatever we believe the word Easter (Ishtar or Eostre??) may come from is not the focus of this writing. Actually we should be looking at what we are doing in our gatherings: our sacred remembrances. "Oh but the children like it” is usualy the comment or “It’s traditional, what’s really wrong with chocolate eggs?”. We'll apart from diabetes and tooth decay nothing, both chocolates and eggs are nice - what we associate them with by 'celebration' is another matter…

What is clear from the behaviour of our ancestors and current cultural practise is that people still water down their relationship with the creator. In theological terms we entertain syncretism  Syncretism is the blending of religions or religious ideas, and this is absolutely an abomination to God on so many levels. In fact it is the work of a particular spirit that pastors and leaders have allowed to enter gatherings. (click link).



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