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Jesus publicly rebuked the religious leaders of His day for their hypocrisy – and they hated Him for it. He rightly expected their attitudes and behaviour to be consistent with the beliefs and values they claimed to hold, as followers of the God of the Bible. He constantly confronted them, and often contrasted their religiosity (corrupted by privilege, power and self-interest), with the simple faith of many poor and struggling people living on the fringes of society. His enemies could not handle the truth, and they were unwilling to change their ways, so they plotted to kill Him and eventually had Him arrested and executed on trumped-up charges.
Every Easter, we celebrate this moment in history, yet fewer and fewer seem to understand what it was all about. The tragedy of Easter is not that Jesus died at the hands of unjust men – as terrible as that was – it is the fact that many people do not realise that He was dying for their sins, so they could be reconciled to God. ALSO, more and more people are becoming scoffers – like those of the first Easter, who abused and ridiculed Jesus saying, “If you really are the Son of God, get off the cross and prove it” – not realising that He was doing it all for them.
Jesus understands what it means to be abused and betrayed, but also how to forgive. Even as He was dying on that cruel cross, He chose to forgive His abusers, rather than curse and condemn them. That is why His love and forgiveness have the power to bring true healing, transformation and salvation – to both abusers and victims.
The death of Jesus was not a tragedy (we call it Good Friday), because He was dying to save sinners like you and me. We have all been victims – and perpetrators – of so much that is evil in this world; and we all need the healing, forgiveness and hope that He makes available to anyone who will come to Him.
The resurrection of Jesus shows us that death is not the end of the story. The chocolate eggs that tantalise our taste buds every Easter, point to the empty tomb and the gift of eternal life that He offers to everyone who believes. This is the good news of Easter.
But, His resurrection is also a warning to scoffers, who think that this life is all there is. One day we will all stand before God and give an account of our lives; only those who put their trust in Jesus (and what He has done for us), will have nothing to worry about.
As the Bible says, “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23 Mark Trodd
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