Sunday, March 27, 2005

Easterish Thoughts

By: UnrepentantNewDealer

Happy Easter! For Christians this is the most important day of the year. The resurrection of Jesus was not only more important than his death, his resurrection necessitated his death. Jesus died so that he could rise again after three days.

I'm no theologian. The standard way Jesus's death and resurrection has always been explained to me makes little sense. Ok, Jesus died to save us from our sins. We hear it all the time, but what exactly does that mean? Does that mean God couldn't forgive sins before Jesus died? Well, no. God forgave the many sins of David, remember. Jesus himself forgave sins before he died (the woman at the well; the convicted felon on the adjacent cross who repented and to whom Jesus said, "Today, you will walk with me in Paradise.").

Here's another one that is repeated so often with nary a thought of what it means: "Jesus died for your sins." Yes, that's right, right up there on that cross, Jesus didn't die for the sins of mankind in general, he died for each person's individual sins, all those people who came before and after him. Even you. Even on that cross, while he was enduring that unimaginable, excruciating pain, between being nailed up there and having a spear thrust into his side to make sure he was dead, he somehow was able to think, "Aaaron Aaaronson, I forgive you your sins. Allison Abernathy, I forgive you your sins. Amanda Abazaid, etc." Not that such a thing is not possible, it just doesn't seem all that likely, given the circumstances.

Of all the parts of the standard telling of the "Last Weekend" story (hey, I like that!), the one that I have always had the strongest objections to was the part where Our Lord and Savior goes to Hell. This appalling conclusion is based on the belief that, on the cross, Jesus somehow took upon himself all the sins of every person who had ever, and would ever, live. These sins "stuck" onto Jesus like Post-It Notes. Because, as Paul says, "The wages of sin are death," Jesus went to Hell. From his death till his resurrection, the Son of God, part-and-parcel of God himself, languished in Hell, subject to all the torments of Satan. I'm sorry, that just doesnt seem to based on the Gospels at all, or at least my understanding of them. After his death, Jesus must have gone back up to Heaven to be in "my father's house."

I think the true significance of Jesus' death was as an example. God sent His Son to die on a cross as a demonstration. What is the one thing people fear most? Death. By sacrificing his son, God showed his love for us. By allowing him to be resurrected, God demonstrated that death is nothing to be afraid of. It is God, not Satan, who has all the aces.

Satan surely rejoiced at that dark hour on Calvary. He had stirred up the passions of the crowd to kill the Son of God. Yet, in his time of triumph, a mighty earthquake rocked the Earth to its very foundations and the rock was rolled away from the tomb. God proved that Life is stronger than Death, Hope is stronger than Fear, Love is stronger than Hate, and Good is stronger than Evil. If God's love for us, despite our abominable sins, can conquer death itself, then we have nothing to be afraid of. That is the message of Easter, brought to us by the angel of God on that Easter morn so long ago: "Be not afraid!" Since God has conquered death, he can bridge the great divide that separates him from us mere mortals and grant us forgiveness from our sins. That bridge is Jesus.

Our sins were not magically washed away when Jesus died on the cross. We have to earnestly repent of our sins and strive to do better. Again, let me repeat that I am not a theologian. These are just my opinions. Yours is as good as mine. Let me know what you think.