Imagine for a moment that even though you are feeling great, it’s time for your physical exam. After the doctor examines you and runs some tests, he calls you back to his office. You walk in with a smile, and he hands you a large stack of papers. Your smile fades as you begin flipping through the many print outs, and a puzzled look comes over your face. He explains that the papers contain detailed instructions about what you should eat (and not eat—which includes most of your favorite foods!) the amount of exercise you are to do every day, and the minimum amount of sleep you should get every night.
Whether you take those instructions seriously or not depends on WHY the doctor decided to give you all those papers. If he said, “I just think that these instructions are nice things to do,” I doubt you would put out much effort to follow them (I know I wouldn’t). On the other hand, your attitude would be much different if he warned you that you were definitely going to die in six months if you didn’t follow his instructions very carefully. If you were convinced of the doctor’s medical knowledge, that stack of papers would suddenly take on new significance.
Now that the Easter holiday is over, I’m sure that there are some who think of it as nothing more than just another nice religious holiday like Christmas, Yom Kippur, Ramadan, Thanksgiving, or Hanukkah. Different religions, after all, have different and interesting celebrations. Who is to say if one religious holiday is more important than any other?
The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead will be nothing more than “just another interesting religious holiday” to us until we see WHY we need it.
We need the death and resurrection of Jesus because we have a large sin-debt with our Creator. We owe Him our love and our affection and our obedience because that is why He made us. God wants us to have the humility to see that we need Him constantly: “In all your ways acknowledge Him…” (Proverbs 3:6). The greatest commandment is to “… love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37) None of us obey these commandments fully, and most of us seldom even consider them.
Our sin–our self-centeredness—keeps us from giving God the things that we owe to Him and that means we are in debt to Him. We now have a sin-debt that we cannot pay. Jesus made this clear when He told us to ask God to “forgive us our debts…” (Matthew 6:12). Jesus didn’t tell us to work at paying off our sin debt—that would be impossible—He said that our only hope was His forgiveness.
Let’s be honest. Our sin-debt is much bigger than we can imagine. That’s because we are constantly adding to it by living our lives as if we don’t need the One who made us.
Do you see the point? We have a huge sin-debt that we owe to a holy God. Not only are we continually adding to it, but we can do nothing to pay off the debt we have already accumulated. We have a big problem. We can’t pay off our sin-debt, and God’s holiness demands that the debt be paid. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against ALL ungodliness and unrighteousness of men …” (Romans 1:18).
Thankfully, there is no reason to despair. “When you were dead in your transgressions… [God] made you alive together with [Jesus], having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross” (Colossians 2:13–14).
The death and resurrection of Christ is the answer, the only answer to our sin-debt. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).
That is why Easter is the most important holiday. Without Christ’s sacrificial love on the Cross and His victory over death in the resurrection, we would be forever stuck with a sin-debt we could never pay. That is why Paul said, “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain…and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:14, 17).
Easter is far more than the beginning of springtime. When you just trust Jesus and turn from your own sin and your own religious efforts, Easter can be the beginning of an eternal season of light and life and love as you walk in a personal relationship with our Creator God.