Easter is a time for being with family and enjoying the love of others. It is also a time of celebration that the relationship between God and man no longer needs to be defined by the law of “thou shalt” and “thou shalt not.”
This is what Easter is about. To make a long story short, God needed a perfect and complete sacrifice to answer for the evil of mankind. God is just and His holy justice demands satisfaction. But His mercy and grace demands that He and His creation be together in all things. Thus the former must be satisfied so the latter can occur. This is why Jesus was born, lived but most importantly died and rose on the third day.
On the Day of Atonement, the priest of Israel would enter the holy sanctuary and place an offering and sacrifice before God for the entire nation of Israel. If the priest came out alive, the nation as whole would be blessed and the sins of the entire nation would be forgiven by God. If he did not come out alive, the whole nation would enter a year of suffering for their sins. This was a picture of what Jesus would do for all mankind. Jesus was not simply a good man with a nice message of peace and good will towards man. He was the Son of God, the priest and the sacrifice for the sins of mankind once and for all. When He came out of the grave on Easter morning that was the proof that God’s judgment was satisfied and His grace and mercy would now govern His relationship with mankind henceforth.
As Isaiah 53 says, “He has borne our griefs . . . He was wounded for our transgressions . . . the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Because Jesus has done this, God says in Isaiah 54, “with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you . . . For this is like the waters of Noah to Me; For as I have sworn that the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you.” Reading Isaiah 61, Jesus said of Himself, “He has sent me . . . to proclaim liberty . . . to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” and upon concluding the reading, he proclaimed, “today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Easter is first about knowing who Jesus is (cognitive awareness). Secondly, it is about believing who He said He was (mental recognition). Most significantly, it is about accepting (mental submission) what He did.
As to who He was, consider one aspect of the trial of Jesus. When Jesus was hung on the cross his judgment, which was nailed over His head, read “Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews” in Hebrew, Latin and Greek. It is the Hebrew that matters. Bible and Hebrew language scholar Joseph Prince explains that Hebrew is read right to left. The inscription read, HaYhudim (of the Jews) Vemelekh (the king) HaNazarie (of Nazareth) Yeshua (Jesus). As Prince explains, the name of God, in Hebrew is HEI VAV HEI YUD. When the Jews saw the inscription above Jesus, they called on Pilate to change the words to read, “he said he was the king of the Jews” to which Pilate said, “what I have written, I have written.” So what was the big deal? Remember the complaint came from religious and educated Jews. They saw H V H Y, the four letters of the name of God over the head of the man they had conspired to have killed. Look at each letter of the name of God and each letter of the judgment of Pilate. Remember, Pilate would not have known the significance of his inscription for he was a Gentile and unschooled in Hebrew or the faith of the Jews. What’s the point? Through the mouth of a man who did not know, God made clear this was His Son.
Dr. Arthur Garrison is an assistant professor of criminal justice at Kutztown University. This piece is the work of Dr. Garrison and does not reflect the opinions of Kutztown University or its faculty, staff, students or alumni.