Easter is the high point of the Christian year – celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But beyond commemorating this event, what meaning does Easter provide for us today? In particular, can we use specific Bible verses to celebrate Easter? The following are a sample of inspirational verses that have had a deep and lasting impact in my life.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (NIV)
Paul is describing the peace and joy we have in Christ once we accept the free gift of salvation offered to us. I have spent too much effort in my life trying to earn God’s favor, or to be good enough to deserve God’s salvation. But the great news for everyone, including me, is that God does not wait until we are “good enough.” He loves us now, and has sent His Son to die for us. Once I grasped this truth, I experienced a much greater peace in my life concerning my eternal destiny with God. The first step God had to take in restoring fellowship with mankind was the atonement, or payment, for our sins. Christ’s death as commemorated on Good Friday satisfied this payment.
“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” (KJV)
These verses are used in Handel’s Messiah to help describe the suffering, or passion of Jesus Christ. This description of the suffering and death of Jesus as payment for our sins was revealed by Isaiah 700 years before it occurred. Every time I hear this portion of the Messiah I reflect on the suffering Jesus endured before he was even nailed to the cross. Then the pain experienced during a crucifixion was so intense that a new word, excruciating, was developed to try and describe it. Knowing that Jesus Christ willingly endured this pain and brutal death on my behalf helps me to never take His sacrifice lightly. Any discomfort or suffering I encounter is miniscule compared to what Jesus bore for me.
“The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said,'” (NIV)
I can only imagine the dread and fear hanging over the disciples after the crucifixion of Jesus on Good Friday. The women were going to the tomb to complete the burial process, so imagine their shock when they encounter an empty tomb and angel! Jesus revealed Himself to the women shortly afterward, to turn their confusion into joy. This is true and lasting victory, in that Jesus did not stay dead, but rose back to life on Easter morning to live forever! This victory over death means that I can have hope in eternal life with God. I am normally someone who does not peek to see how a book ends; I allow myself to be surprised. But when it comes to my life, I do like to have a hope in the future. Even during the darkest times on earth, the risen Christ provides me hope for an eternity with Him.
“Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing” (KJV)
This verse, also in Handel’s Messiah, describes heaven as revealed to John. He is watching the angels and other beings in heaven surround the throne of God, singing praises. They then focus on Jesus, the risen Lamb of God, who after rising from the dead now reigns victoriously in heaven at the right hand of God. This chorus, along with the Amen chorus, is the finale to the Messiah. The music is a masterpiece, taking the listener through a range of feelings ranging from hope to despair to celebration, leaving one emotionally exhausted. Then this thunderous climax occurs, in which the musicians and audience are virtually experiencing the glory of God in heaven, moves me to tears like few other experiences. The sheer joy of knowing that God is victorious, that He loves me, and that He has taken the steps necessary to bring me into fellowship with Him, stirs me to the depths of my soul. My only response can be to worship and thank God for His matchless love.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (NIV)
Although God’s work of atonement is done, there is plenty of work for us as believers. The final words of Jesus to His disciples before He returned to heaven were this commandment to: make disciples, or additional followers of Jesus; baptize them as a sign of their new commitment to God; and teach them the truth of successfully living out their new life of following God. I first made the decision to accept the free gift of grace through Jesus Christ by listening to what others, including my brother, taught me about Jesus. Who knows what my life would be if these people had not come to me at that time in my life? Therefore I know it is likewise my responsibility to go and tell others about the new life they can have in Jesus Christ.
The death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ is the foundation for the Christian faith. Christians enjoy Easter eggs, brunches, and spring flowers like everyone else. But focusing on special Bible verses for Easter elevate the holiday beyond the fun family time and into a celebration of what God has done for us. Christmas is celebrated because it is the coming of Jesus into the world for the mission to which He was called by God, the payment for the sins of the world and reconciling mankind back to God. Good Friday and Easter celebrate the successful completion of that mission.