Jesus died on a cross. The life went out of him, and he was dead. Jesus was crucified and he died. The power was turned off and his light went out.
Satan was probably as happy as Satan ever gets. This was what he had wanted. He surely felt as if he had won. Do you remember how Satan made a deal with God before he could attack Job? It can be thought of as a bit like that. Satan got Jesus, God’s only son, in exchange for all the other people. You and me included.
When you turn on a light in your house, you press a switch. This connects a circuit and allows energy to flow from somewhere to your bulb. The bulb then lights up, and we could say it is alive. Break the circuit and the bulb goes out. In other words, when you break the circuit it dies. Life is from God, isn’t it. Disconnect from God and you are dead.
On a Roman cross, the circuit from God to Jesus was broken. Jesus cried out “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” ‘El’ means God or Yahweh, and ‘I’ means I or me or my. El’i means my God.
It is the Aramaic version of Psalm 22:1 –
“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
“나의 하나님, 나의 하나님, 어찌하여 나를 버리셨습니까?”
As soon as the circuit was broken, Jesus died. He was dead. Jesus was no longer connected to the source of life, YHWH (Yahweh), Adonai (The Lord), El, God Almighty.
That was on Friday. Today is Sunday. We are here to celebrate, because Jesus didn’t stay dead. The circuit was mended, life was restored. “He was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit.” That is what Paul tells us in Romans 1:4.
At just the moment when it looked as though all hope was gone, God won. At the moment when it seemed that Jesus had failed, he succeeded. We need to remember this. When life is hard and it seems it has all gone wrong, we turn to God and find he has won. The reason we think of crucifixion as failure is that we don’t understand God’s plan.
The Hebrew slaves were saved by Moses from Egypt. When they found that salvation meant they were wandering around in the desert without cucumbers and melons, they thought it was a failure. It wasn’t. It was victory. We have to stop looking at the world the way Satan wants us to and start seeing things through God’s eyes. We need faith.
Today we gather to remind ourselves what that looks like. It looks like an empty tomb. It looks like a resurrected messiah.
Life is a relationship with the living God. That only became possible when Jesus died instead of us. Until then we couldn’t escape from Satan. Now we are free.
Now it is our choice to be a disciple of Jesus and share in his resurrection. Or to reject the free offer that he died for.
When we recall this exciting story we have a chance to think about God’s purposes. From the very beginning, God has had a strategy. As we read the story of God’s people we can see how often they failed to understand God’s strategy. All through the Old Testament, they failed to grasp it. When Jesus came, they failed to grasp it. Today, do we grasp the strategy of God?
The women who early on Easter morning found the tomb of Jesus empty did not know what to expect. They thought they were going to visit the tomb where Jesus lay dead. Mark tells us in Mark 16:1 that “Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went out and purchased burial spices so they could anoint Jesus’ body.”
They didn’t expect to find the tomb empty and Jesus gone. Jesus had told them he would rise from the dead, but they hadn’t understood. Matthew tells us that “the women ran quickly from the tomb.” He says this was because “They were very frightened.” Mark says they were “trembling and bewildered” by their experience.
Jesus told the women not to be afraid. He told them to send the 11 disciples to Galilee to meet with him. The men went and met Jesus, but “some of them doubted!”
It isn’t easy for us to change the way we think. We have been brought up in a world that thinks the wrong way. We have spent much of our lives in a culture and society that only knows one way to think about the world. On Easter Sunday at last we can see God’s goal in the strategy he has been following. We may still struggle to understand the tactics that God has used to reach his goal, but we can know the goal.
We start by looking at what happened in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve fell. Turn to Genesis 3:4 and see what God did after he kicked Adam and Eve out of the garden.
“[Yahweh] placed a flaming sword that flashed back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.”
Through their sin, they are cut off from life. They are dead. The connection is broken. God’s intention ever since has been to repair that connection. That connection to God is life.
John 14:6 – Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”
John 10:10 – Jesus says his purpose is to give life.
How will Jesus give life? By dying. Yes, by dying and then being resurrected.
The whole purpose of the Messiah is to open the way for us to have a relationship with God.
The only way to have life is to have a relationship with God. It is a relationship of love. He loves us, and we return that love and love each other.
That is the purpose and meaning of life. That’s it.
On Easter Sunday this comes into sharp focus when we see the empty tomb, and the resurrected Jesus.
The meaning of life is not to be well educated in any of the things that this world teaches. The knowledge of the world has value only when it contributes to a better relationship with God.
The meaning and purpose of life is not to have a good job, earning enough to feed a family and take care of their needs. With enough left over for a holiday. The meaning and purpose of life is to love each other and to love God. We can only love because he first loved us. We can only love when we have a living relationship with Jesus.
The meaning and purpose of life is not to know that Jesus is the messiah. Satan knew that long before you did. The meaningful thing in life is to have a relationship of love with Jesus.
Does the world tell you this is nonsense. Does it tell you that it is a delusion to think that you can have a living relationship with a long-dead Jew? They don’t know that Jesus is alive. He is not dead. He is resurrected. He is the first of many.
The sixth law of spiritual success is ‘Stay close to God.’
1 Peter 3:4 – “You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.”
Philippians 4:8 – “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
All who have a relationship of love with Jesus will also be resurrected. We are plugged in. We have life. We have hope in Jesus, not in this world.
What is real, what is important, what is of lasting value, cling to these things. Hold tight to the Holy Spirit as he produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.