In traditional Christian circles, this week is the most significant week of the church year. Each day relates the progression from the opening parade which marks what we know as Palm Sunday through the first part of the week to Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, to what is called Holy Saturday, and culminating with Easter Sunday!
The one principle which arises out of all the events of that first Holy Week is very simply stated: Forgiveness always comes at a cost!
One pastor and author, J. D. Greear, had some very profound thoughts about the Easter message. He wrote:
“I remember a Muslim asking me when I lived in Southeast Asia, why would God need somebody to die in order to forgive our sin? He said, ‘If you sinned against me, and I wanted to forgive you, I wouldn’t make you kill your dog before I forgave you. Why would God require some kind of sacrifice to forgive?
“Here’s how I answered him:
“Choosing to forgive somebody means that you are agreeing to absorb the cost of the injustice of what they’ve done. Imagine you stole my car and you wrecked it, and you don’t have insurance and or the money to pay for it. What are my choices? I could make you pay. I could haul you before a judge and request a court-mandated payment plan. If you were foolish enough to steal my $1.5 million Ferrari (No, I do not actually own a Ferrari), you might never pay it off, and you’d always be in my debt.
“But I have another choice. I could forgive you …. What am I choosing to do if I say, “I forgive you”? I’m choosing to absorb the cost of your wrong. I’ll have to pay the price of having the car fixed. … You have no debt to pay—not because there was nothing to pay, but because I paid it all. Not only that, I’m choosing to absorb the pain of your treatment of me. … I’m choosing to give you friendship and acceptance even though you deserve the opposite.
“… If you forgive someone, you bear the cost rather than insisting that the wrongdoer does. And that is what Jesus, the Mighty God, was doing when he came to earth and lived as a man and died a criminal’s death on a wooden cross.” [Source: J. D. Greear, Searching For Christmas (The Good Book Company, 2020), p. 52-53]
The beauty of the forgiveness which God has provided through the Easter message of Christ dying on the cross for us is that it is the essence of the gospel story. And that is good news.
The very term “gospel” means good news. The whole point of Easter is that the news is good, that it brings to all who grasp it incredible and unbelievable joy.
What that means for you and for me is that victory is snatched out of the jaws of defeat. You and I were condemned to an eternity apart from and rejected by God.
But because of that first Easter, that is because of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, all who trust in Jesus and follow Him are assured of that forgiveness He promises us. In Romans 8:1, we read, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
There really is Jesus. Joy. It’s real. You have to have it. Fun may last for a moment or two, but joy, real joy lasts for all eternity and it only comes through Jesus.
Are you living joyfully yet? If not, perhaps you should accept the forgiveness which only comes through Jesus Christ. If you trust Him today, what a wonderful Easter that will be!
Have a joyful Resurrection Sunday!
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the News Journal and a former pastor in the area. He may be reached at [email protected]