On Easter Sunday, little Billy listened as his Sunday school teacher told the class that the lesson would be about the meaning of Easter.
"Can anyone tell the Easter story?" she asked.
No one in the class spoke up, so finally, little Billy decided to raise his hand.
"On Easter," said Billy, "Jesus and his disciples were eating the Jewish Passover at the Last Supper, but later Jesus was betrayed and turned over to the Romans by one of his disciples. He was accused of teaching that he was the Messiah and when he confessed it, the Romans made him wear a crown of thorns, took him to be crucified and hung him on a cross with nails through his hands and feet. He said, 'It is finished,' which means, 'Debt paid in full,' and died. He was definitely dead because the water was separated from his blood when they stabbed his side. So they buried him in a nearby cave on Friday, which was sealed off by a large boulder."
"Very good, Billy!" the teacher gasped excitedly. "And what else happened that we celebrate on Easter?"
Little Billy thought for a moment and then continued, "Now, on Easter Sunday each year, we move the boulder aside so that Jesus can come out. And if he sees his shadow, then we know there will be six more weeks of winter!"
Little Billy did a great job, but obviously left out a huge part of the story. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:17: "And if Christ is not raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins."
Jesus' victory over sin and death was not complete until he rose from the dead. When Jesus died on the cross, he suffered for every one of your impure thoughts, every one of your inappropriate flappings of the tongue and every sinful deed you'd ever commit. Every one of your sins was punished so that you could be offered a pardon.
God's forgiveness is a gift. Those too proud to receive it or too busy trying to earn it will never have it. Our religious rituals and good deeds contribute nothing to our salvation. Jesus' death and resurrection were 100 percent sufficient and our efforts to make ourselves worthy of God's love are a slap in the face to the one who purchased our pardon with His blood.
While it's true that eternal life is offered freely to all, it's also true that eternal life is not just something to look forward to "some day." John 17:3 says: "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent."
Eternal life isn't just quantity of life, it is also quality of life. It begins the moment you humble yourself to acknowledge that what Jesus did on the cross, he did for you. Knowing Jesus and submitting to Him results in peace, joy, meaning and fulfillment -- life.
The message of Christ's resurrection is not just forgiveness, it is the new life that is found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. May you walk in the newness of life today.
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