My father, a pastor, talks about the CEO’s of the church-going world: Christmas and Easter Only. Of these two, Easter is the day more people attend church services than any other single day. Out of tradition, faith, or obligation, people flock into buildings to attend a church service. Songs are sung, messages preached, and meals eaten. Pastors take this high-attendance Sunday to talk about the atonement, Calvary, salvation, forgiveness, the resurrection, and other things related to the religious meaning of Easter. But does it mean anything afterward?
There is more to Easter than a church service. Notice I didn’t say “worship” service—church service. Many who attend, including regular attendees, do not truly worship, they just attend. They may have sung the songs and even paid some attention to part of the sermon, but they did not worship. There was no humbling before a sovereign God, no exalting a risen Christ, no submission to the Holy Spirit. Rather, people attended a ritual, participated, and left afterward. In short, they went to a church service.
But Easter is more than a church service. Easter is more than recognizing and remembering Jesus’ death and resurrection. It’s about much more. Easter is about a holy, righteous, perfect, transcendent God intervening in human history. It is about that sovereign, holy God doing what he was not obligated to do. It is about a perfect, holy, righteous God the Son, Jesus, humbling himself for the benefit of a flawed, sinful, corrupt creation. It is about Jesus taking the sin of man upon himself, and dying the death you and I deserve.
Easter is more than a Sunday service. Easter is about God the Son, who was beaten and crushed and killed to pay for man’s sin. It is about God the Son who defeated death by raising on the third day, nevermore to die. It is about Christ, after taking man’s sin upon himself, imparting his righteousness to those who believe in Jesus. It is about us being the recipients of God’s grace. Easter shows us that man failed, but God prevailed.
Easter is about changed destinies and changed lives. Easter is about Jesus’ followers no longer desiring sinful things. It is about Jesus’ followers actually following Jesus: dying to sin, and living for God. Easter is about a new life, a new way of living. It is about a new perspective. No longer do we live for the moment and for ourselves—we live for eternal things and for an eternal God. Easter is about a passion for what is righteous: helping those in need, sharing the Gospel with others, loving our neighbors, finding ways to glorify God by serving God’s creation.
This new way of viewing the world comes only because of Easter. It begins win God redeeming man through Jesus: Jesus satisfied God’s justice by paying the death penalty for sin. It continues with Jesus defeating death and granting to his followers new life. Now we must live in that new life, because that new life is a life of eternal hope and supernatural joy.
In his book Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die, John Piper offers a beautiful summary of the meaning of Easter: “He died to produce in us a passion for good deeds. Christian purity is not the mere avoidance of evil, but the pursuit of good. . . . Christ died to make us this kind of people—passionate to help the poor and the perishing. It is the best life, no matter what it costs us in this world: They get help, we get joy, God gets glory” (p. 91, emphasis in original).
If you are a believer in Jesus, do you live Easter every day or just attend a church service?
If you are not a believer, will you put your trust in Christ alone? Will you confess Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that he rose from the dead? Are you ready to repent of your sins and accept Christ’s love today? Call on Jesus today!