From death to life

Outside the empty tomb

Today we remember the culmination of a battle won, we celebrate a great victory. It’s a victory that has changed the course of history and dramatically altered the quality of life of millions on this planet, yet strangely is understood by so few.

Almost two thousand years ago, and documented by a variety of historians of the time, Jesus died on a Roman cross outside the walls of Jerusalem; but His death was planned before the world began. In fact He said that He came to give His life as a ransom. It was to be a divine exchange: Jesus’ perfection sacrificed for our guilt, that we may go free, forgiven, accepted and cleansed for all eternity.

Death is a formidable enemy. It is something that none of us can avoid, but it was helpless against Jesus. Yes, He succumbed to death, but that was His choice. It could not hold Him, as hundreds of witnesses at the time could testify (1 Corinthians 15:6). He rose from the dead, even keeping an appointment in Galilee that He made before His death (Matthew 26:32; John 21).

Throughout His time on earth, He frequently spoke about life; not just humdrum, everyday life, but a new quality of life that continues into eternity, and that is on offer to all who will put their trust in Him. John, one of His closest followers, records His words: “I came to give life with joy and abundance.” “Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” “Whoever trusts in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life.” “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

However, Jesus didn’t just talk about it, He fought the battle with death and came out the victor, and because of what He did two thousand years ago, we have the opportunity today to receive that free gift of life, life in all its fulness, life for all eternity.

To find out more, check out: Time to Change.

The Passover Lamb

The Cross
The Passover Lamb

Tomorrow is Good Friday, the first day of the Easter weekend. Cadbury’s Creme Eggs have been in the shops for months, and families are packing for the Easter getaway.

This year Easter falls at the same time as the Jewish festival of Pesach (Passover). In fact that famous Easter meal, the Last Supper, was actually a very Jewish Passover meal, where a Jewish rabbi and his twelve students recalled the miraculous deliverance of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. This meal was a bitter-sweet occasion for the rabbi as only he knew that he would leave there to face torture and death. It was to be his life for ours, his goodness and purity for our wrongdoing and rebellion. Just as Jewish people around the world remember the Passover lamb that gave its life to save the lives of others, here we have Jesus – his real name was Yeshua – who had lived a spotless life, but gave it so that others may be free, forgiven, accepted and loved by their Creator. In so doing he fulfilled the prophecies of the Hebrew King David and the prophet Isaiah.

Another rabbi, Sha’ul, or Paul the apostle as he’s more commonly known, writes about this event, but in doing so he leaves a challenge for us all.

“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t only look out  for your own interests, but take an interest in others too. You must have the same attitude as that of Yeshua the Messiah:

“Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Yeshua every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Yeshua the Messiah is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:3-11)