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Celebrate Easter Week: But Choose Carefully!

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What will Easter Sunday mean to you—and those who hear you preach? Choose carefully: How you celebrate Easter indicates your priorities of faith. This “Holy Week” is filled with powerful images of the Christian life: Jesus gave us a covenant meal on Thursday night—the very night he was betrayed. He suffered torture and death on Friday—a death that paid the price for the sins of humanity. On Saturday, he descended into the depths of Hades and kicked in the gates of Hell itself. And, of course, on Sunday he was resurrected with power, receiving the vindication of the Heavenly Father.

Choose Carefully What you Will Preach

We can (and should) celebrate his death. His death on the cross is unique because of who he is—the sinless perfect Son of God: the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. No one else could accomplish what Jesus accomplished on the cross, because his perfect sacrifice came by virtue of his identity as God come to earth. His sacrifice was for the sin of all people, in all times and in all places. His death was unique. One time. Once. For all. But I would like to ask a difficult question: Is Friday’s sacrifice enough?

When we concentrate on the substitutionary death of Jesus to the exclusion of his life and teaching, we limit his ministry to a divine rescue mission—a rescue mission that only becomes effective for us when we die. Many Christians understand that they have no hope of heaven apart from the price Jesus paid on their behalf. But apart from gratitude for his kindness, there is little connection between what Jesus did then and how we can live today. Our appreciation for what he did does not empower us to fulfill his teaching. Our gratitude for his suffering does not release the wisdom, insight or strength for each one of us to live as a new creation, a new kind of person.