Easter is the most important holiday that we celebrate as Christians. All of Christianity revolves around the resurrection of Christ from the grave. It’s where the symbolism of baptism comes from. Most people think Christmas is the most important, and the birth of God into the world in the human form of Christ is certainly important, but not nearly as important as His leaving His human form in this world. All the hoopla and attention paid to Christmas boils down to commercialism. The wise men bearing gifts gave rise to our exchanging gifts as a symbol of the reverence of the wise men paying tribute to Christ, and merchants were-and still are-quick to capitalize on selling gifts.
The resurrection is fundamental to our salvation. It gives us our life in Christ forever. Jesus’ death on the cross is most often looked to as the means of our salvation, and it is the first part of God’s work on our behalf. But it is not complete without Christ’s rising from the grave on Sunday. Paul wrote, “If the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from he dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwells in you”. To understand the significance of the resurrection in your life, you need to first understand the meaning of His death on the cross.
Jesus dying on the cross gave a universal absolution for sin to all who believe in Him: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have ever lasting life” (John 3:16). A universal remedy requires a universal cause. The universal remedy in Jesus dying on the cross is for the universality of sin in human nature. Sin is distinct from sins. Sin is the human nature of humans that has its origin in Adam and Eve’s sin of eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. All humans have known this distinction since then. It is our knowing the difference between following God’s commands and not following Him completely that causes our spiritual death to God. And, all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Therefore all have died.
Christ’s death on the cross provided a universal remedy for sin, the human inability of mankind to keep God’s law. As a result, we commit individual sins which are acts, or failures to act, that fall outside of God’s law. The law has no provision for salvation. It has no power to return us to fellowship with God, but only alienates us from Him. Only Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection provides our means of salvation. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by Him (John 14:6).
Absolution from sin requires that a penalty be paid. Jesus paid that price by dying in your place on the cross. Therefore, you are bought by Christ because he has paid your penalty ( 1 Corinthians 7:23 ). Three words in the New Testament speak of our purchase by God: agorazo, meaning to purchase in the market (Romans 7:14); exagorazo, to buy out of the market (1 Timothy 2:6) and; lutroo, to loose, to set free by paying a price (John 8:32; Galatians 4:4,5; 5:13; Romans 8:21). In other words, Jesus paid our penalty to set us free from the bondage of universal sin. An example is your going to court for a crime. The judge finds you guilty and imposes a fine you cannot possibly pay, so the judge orders you to stay in prison forever. Jesus comes forward and pays your fine for you, and then sets you free. Almost.
Having your fine paid is one thing. Living a new life without further penalty is another. This new life requires two things, God’s providing the means for our new life, and our faith in Christ as our Savior: “By grace you are saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the work of God: not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that you should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10). In other words, those who accept God’s gift of salvation are set free forever from universal sin, and we are not held legally accountable for our individual sins, although there is accountability for them and chastisement by God for our misdeeds.
Christ’s paying for our sin today over 2000 years ago is possible because He eradicated sin from Christians’ lives by paying our price. The New Testament is a New Contract between God and those who choose to follow Jesus. A contract requires that those on both sides of the agreement meet certain requirements. God’s new contract with Christians is that they meet the requirement of doing the work He has planned for them since eternity past. Christians are recreated, born again, into Christ, He is in us and we in Him. The works are necessary for two main reasons. First, God is concerned with mankind as a whole. Jesus spent His life on earth helping others, and He expects the same of us. Second, God can see our faith, but men can’t see faith itself. People can see our faith only through our works that God has planned for us. It is our working out our faith that causes lost persons to want what we have. It gives them the incentive to come to Christ because you have something they don’t have, and they want that something.
So in short, Jesus’ death on the cross paid our price for sin in our lives, and His rising from the dead gives us a new life in Christ. Old things are passed away, all things become new. A person is subject to the law only when he lives. He cannot be punished after his death. Jesus died in our place, so we are now free from sin. But being free doesn’t mean anything if we don’t have a new life in which to enjoy our freedom. This is the meaning of baptism. We die to our old self and are buried by the dunking under the water, and we rise to a new life in Christ by our being lifted up out of the water: ” Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism unto death: that like as Christ was raised up by the glory of the Father, even so we should walk in the newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection. For he that is dead is free from sin” Romans 6:4,5).
This is why the resurrection is all important. It fulfills God’s plan of salvation by freeing us from the law and giving us a new life in Christ forever. Without the resurrection we would have no means of obtaining a new life to enjoy our freedom from sin. Our end of the New Contract is to let Christ’s light shine out through us so that others are attracted to that light. By accepting God’s gift of salvation through Christ as Savior you have signed the New Contract, and are obligated to fulfill your end of the agreement. How many people will be attracted to His light shining out through your works?