April 3, 2015
Why Does Easter Matter?
Happy Easter, Riverview!
Easter is a big deal for many of us, whether we’re “churchy people” or not. It’s about springtime, and pretty dresses, and candy for the kids—and for many people, it’s the one time a year that we pile into our cars and go to church to hear some pastor talk about Jesus.
But why? Why do we still celebrate some guy who died on a cross 2000 years ago?
The Apostle Paul wrote an entire letter in the New Testament—the book of Romans—helping give clarity to what the gospel is and why Jesus matters. In this letter, he carefully walked through several key concepts.
In the first three chapters, Paul lays out a clear foundation of our need. Here’s a quick summary of Romans 1-3: Everyone, Jew and non-Jew, is jacked up. By jacked up I mean we all sin. We all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). That’s what sin is. It’s the failure to reflect the image of God in action, attitude, or thought. So Paul would say that we’re all guilty of sin and because of that we are all separated from God.
So when Paul says all have sinned, he means more than we’ve all made mistakes. “We all have sinned” means that we’ve chosen to rebel against a holy God. And sin is a big deal. Sin is what originally caused the separation in relationship between Adam and Eve and God (Genesis 3). So our sin is what stands between God and us. In fact, in Romans 6:23, it even says that our paycheck for the work of our sin is death.
I recognized that I was sinful growing up. I knew that I was jacked up. Since I didn’t know the gospel message, I tried to work my way to God. Even though I wasn’t very familiar with the Bible, I knew that I was far from God and the only option that I could think of was to work my way back—to try and earn God’s acceptance.
That way of thinking has lots of issues. First, because of sin I am unrighteous. Sin is a stain that can’t be undone by doing good works. If I do a lifetime of good, I can’t undo the sin I’ve already done on my own merit. I remember growing up being taught that the 10 Commandments were to be kept in an effort to try and climb to God. But Paul right here in Romans 3:20 says that the Law (the 10 Commandments) were given so that we could see that we need a Savior. The Law shows us how messed up we really are, and that we’d never work our way up to God on our own.
A key transition in Romans comes in chapter 3. Paul says:
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. (Romans 3: 21-22)
The righteousness that you and I need isn’t found in trying to keep the law. You can’t work to earn righteousness.
We often refer to the work that Jesus did on the cross as the Great Exchange. As Jesus hung on the cross, He suffered the punishment that we deserve for our sin. God put our sin on Jesus and poured out His wrath on His Son. And in taking our sin onto Himself, He gave us His righteousness. In the Great Exchange, God made a way for sinful man to become righteous.
For our sake he made him (Jesus) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him (Jesus) we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Paul says that the key to becoming a Christian is realizing that the righteousness that you need is found in Jesus alone. And it’s through faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus that someone becomes a Christian.
If you’ve never responded to the work that Jesus did for you on the cross, I encourage you to put your faith and trust in Him. Here’s what that looks like: Confess your sin, thank God for Jesus’ death for you on the cross as complete payment for all your sin, and trust Him as the only One who can save you.
Want to know more about what it means to put your faith in Jesus? Learn how to become a Christ-follower.
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