Easter, Not a New Beginning
Pastor Hall contributed the following Easter column to a local newspaper. We think it’s worth sharing…
A certain pastor in Texas, one with a famously characteristic smile and cheerfully optimistic wife toted on his arm, gave an Easter message several years ago in which he said, “If you’ll let go of the old and have a fresh new vision, God can make the rest of your life the best of your life. Today can be your new beginning.”
I noticed this popularized theme of Easter several years ago as I was looking for power-point graphics for an Easter sermon, upon which to put my sermon outline for the congregation to keep up. Nearly every Easter-themed graphic said, “New Beginning” or “Fresh Start” or “Clean Slate” or “Second Chances.” There seems to be a theme, here…and the theme is, Jesus died to give you another chance, a fresh start, a new beginning.
“When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (John 19:30).
What does “It is finished” mean? It means that Christ had done everything necessary to propitiate for our sins. The atonement (or payment) had been made. The debt had been satisfied. From that point on, the sins of all believers had been paid for. So then, what was the point of the resurrection? The resurrection proved Jesus true and validated his claims of godhood. And now, Jesus lives to serve as our priest and make intercession for us, continually bestowing to us grace each and every time that we sin. This is what Jesus meant by, “It is finished.”
Friends, if all Easter is, is some metaphor for a fresh start, you’ll blow it. If all Easter is, is a clean slate or new beginning or second chance, you would blow it. Probably, by breakfast. And the salvation offered by the Gospel isn’t about second chances because we continually sin…over and over and over again (yes, even Christians). Easter is about Jesus doing what we couldn’t do, and using his first and only chance to perfectly accomplish what we wouldn’t be able to do on our five-hundredth chance or four-thousandth chance or eight-millionth chance.
The reason a believer doesn’t have to be born again, again, and again and again is because Christ accomplished once and for all what we can’t. Just as a believer can’t lose their salvation (for to do so, Christ Jesus would have to fail to accomplish the will of God in keeping all those he’s been given), we have no need to be born again over and again. Christ Jesus has scored our goal, accomplished our feat, achieved our merit, and fulfilled our task for us.
Easter isn’t a day to gear up and get ready to be really, really good in the coming days to take advantage of a fresh start. Easter is a day of celebration and rest in Christ’s accomplished work. It’s on this day we remember that Jesus rose from the dead after conquering death, hell and the grave for us. It’s on this day that we remember sin has been paid for by a Savior who gave his life out of love for his chosen people, who paid for their sins, and rose again from the dead. It’s a day not to remind ourselves of what we must do, but to remind ourselves of what Christ has done.
– JD Hall
[Contributed by Landon Chapman]