Easter is one of the sweetest moments in the year for Christians. We celebrate the death of a man who claimed he would actually raise from the dead because he would defeat death – as if he would battle it and win. Not only that, we believe he paid a debt with his death – like a human sacrifice – for something we could not pay. We believe this because we believe the Bible is true about how we were created by God and in his image but did what he told us not to do and, in that, choosing something more than him – our desire.
The free will given to us as humans to choose is love. If we were forced to love God, is that love? So, in our free will, we chose something else – ourselves. And we have been choosing this ever since. Because of that first choice, our world that was created perfect, and humans who were created perfectly, became broken. That is when our need for saving also began.
I’ve grown up in the church and it still doesn’t fully sink in some days.
In the Easter season perpetuated by the season of Lent, Christians become hyper focussed on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ; much like Advent is to Christmas.
This year, these focusses have been blurry at best for me – they have yet to come into focus. And the difficulty is when you don’t desire something, it’s counterintuitive to move in the direction of them. This means the daily and weekly rhythms of prayer, reading the Bible, confession to others my sin – the rhythms of a Christian life – have become distractible at best and unnoticed at worst.
How do I FEEL the truth again? It’s the most common question and wrestle I hear from those in my life and myself.
Sadly, I’m a slow learner. I’m one of those people who takes a while to process and get things right, but once I do, it’s golden. What I have learned in this long process is community and communication is a life-saver – spiritually and literally. How will people know what they don’t know unless I tell them? It’s another counterintuitive move for me.
In such an act this week, I have met with similar responses of numbness. I don’t consider this a lack of faith; otherwise, why would any of us persist in attending church, reading, community with believers, etc? Faith is an assurance of things hope for and a conviction of things we cannot see – basically, faith is acting in such a way that what we believe is true even if we cannot see it right now. No wonder this Christian life is a messy one.
Because of all of this, one of my friends this week gave me a reading. In a week where reading truth has proved to be like sticking opposite poles of a magnet together (the determination is there, but the desire becomes resistant), I was hopeful I would be diligent in this reading. But I again put it off until this morning when it laid face-up on my table staring at me, waiting.
Through this reading, it is as if a bit of a spark happened. Not necessarily even a full feeling, but I believe the truth of scripture from the Bible cannot help but spark something when read (Isaiah 55, Hebrews 4:12).
When I am faced with the truth of who God is and what he has accomplished, I cannot help but feel at some level the weight of that and the relief of that, which leads me to worship. Maybe not the full expression of worship deserved, but what little I have is everything I have to give and that’s enough for this Easter day.
If you are struggling with this Easter season, my hope is that this would maybe spark something for you as well.
Why Jesus Came to Die: 1 To Absorb the Wrath of God
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written,“Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.” Galatians 3:13
God put [Christ] forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. Romans 3:25
In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4:10
If God were not just, there would be no demand for his Son to suffer and die. And if God were not loving, there would be no willingness for his Son to suffer and die. But God is both just and lov- ing. Therefore his love is willing to meet the demands of his justice.
God’s law demanded, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5). But we have all loved other things more. This is what sin is—dishonoring God by preferring other things over him, and acting on those preferences. Therefore, the Bible says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We glorify what we enjoy most. And it isn’t God.
Therefore sin is not small, because it is not against a small Sovereign. The seriousness of an insult rises with the dignity of the one insulted. The Creator of the universe is infinitely worthy of respect and admiration and loyalty. Therefore, failure to love him is not trivial—it is treason. It defames God and destroys human happiness.
Since God is just, he does not sweep these crimes under the rug of the universe. He feels a holy wrath against them. They deserve to be punished, and he has made this clear: “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4).
There is a holy curse hanging over all sin. Not to punish would be unjust. The demeaning of God would be endorsed. A lie would reign at the core of reality. Therefore, God says, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them” (Galatians 3:10; Deuteronomy 27:26).
But the love of God does not rest with the curse that hangs over all sinful humanity. He is not content to show wrath, no matter how holy it is. Therefore God sends his own Son to absorb his wrath and bear the curse for all who trust him. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13).
This is the meaning of the word “propitiation” in the text quoted above (Romans 3:25). It refers to the removal of God’s wrath by providing a substitute. The substitute is provided by God himself. The substitute, Jesus Christ, does not just cancel the wrath; he absorbs it and diverts it from us to himself. God’s wrath is just, and it was spent, not withdrawn.
Let us not trifle with God or trivialize his love. We will never stand in awe of being loved by God until we reckon with the seriousness of our sin and the justice of his wrath against us. But when, by grace, we waken to our unworthiness, then we may look at the suffering and death of Christ and say, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the [wrath-absorbing] propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
(You can see the entire writing and even download this for free here: https://document.desiringgod.org/fifty-reasons-why-jesus-came-to-die-en.pdf?1446647227)