So; the Easter weekend has come and gone, the Easter bunny has made its now traditional annual appearance and equally faithfully disappeared from shop floors along with all the eggs and chocolates which have now long gone. The Easter story has been told and retold from countless pulpits all over the world over and over again. (And so it should, it is but a token reminder of the greatest victory wrought in the history of humankind.)
But now that the celebrations have rounded off, are we meant to live off the leftovers of those Easter chocolates hoarded away somewhere and survive on the relics of a story recounted from countless pulpits for the rest of the year? Is that all there is to Easter – seasonal chocolates and a cute story about a man who conquered death thousands of years ago in a distant land?
What is its lasting and permanent significance to us in the here and now?
What is its relevance and implications on us now and every day in our lives? If there is none then there truly is no call for celebration.
Ever since the first Easter mankind (or rather, those who choose to avail themselves of this chance) enjoys unprecedented and unhindered access to God. The insurmountable divide between God and man that went by the name of sin and its unconquerable (but natural) consequence of death was finally bridged and conclusively conquered. Sin was the cause of the separation of God and man.
Isaiah puts it succinctly in Isaiah 59:1-2:
Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.
A clear gulf was created between God and man because of man’s sin. The communication channels had been shut down and the relationship annulled due to the destructive nature of sin which man first embraced in the Garden of Eden and has since then been incurably infected with it. The ability to connect with God and experience His powerful presence in our lives was clearly lost due to our sin, our iniquities. And the wages payable for sin is nothing else but death – alienation from God, total and permanent separation from Him. Romans 6:23 puts it simply For the wages of sin is death….
So sin, closely and unavoidably followed by death, conspired against us to cause our ultimate downfall. That is, until the appearance of God in human form – Philippians 2:6-7
…who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
For any victory over sin and death to be incontestable it had to be attained by humankind, in human flesh and blood and not by any other nature. It was clear that the divine nature stood separated and uninfected by sin, unconquerable and unaffected by it. Only victory attained in human form – the very form it was defeated in – would be deemed true and incontestable.
For which reason the Son of God had to take on human form, become like one of us who were miserably undone by sin and rendered hopeless by death. If He were to overcome sin and death He had to do it in our human nature for the victory to be valid and stand the test of the heavenlies. Only victory over sin and death attained in mortal form was able to stand undisputed for the rest of eternity.
Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.
Christ’s sinless life, death and resurrection marked the overturning of the power of sin and death – 1 Corinthians 15:55-57
“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Not only has death’s sting been neutralised but it has been effectively overturned.
And it is this doing away of sin on the cross that enabled our reunion, our reconciliation with God, from whom we had been alienated due to our sin, and His resurrection from the dead that reversed the effect and power of death in our lives.
This access to God that we enjoy (and very often take for granted) was attained at an unspeakable price. It took Christ’s not holding on to His divine status but taking on the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men, humbling Himself through total obedience unto death and that the most cruel and horrid form of it, on a Roman cross. (Philippians 2:6-8)
It was this utter humility, total submission and selfless sacrifice that made reconnection for a lost race to its creator possible.
Therefore, brothers, since we have boldness to enter the sanctuary through the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way He has opened for us through the curtain (that is, His flesh), and since we have a great high priest over the house of God,
With the ultimate sacrifice of God’s perfect and sinless Son in human form, and ever since the tearing of the veil in the inner sanctuary of the temple, God has quite literally flung wide open the way to Himself and provided us with a myriad of platforms through which we can engage with him directly and personally. Only the blood of Christ shed on the cross (Colossians 1:20) and His body broken at that same place opened a new and hitherto unrevealed way of reconnecting to God. There is only one way back to God, one way and no other.
It is God’s deepest desire and hunger to engage with you one on one for which reason he was ready to and happily paid the ultimate sacrifice to clear the way and make access to Him possible.
Access has been granted and made possible through this fantastically clear, new and living way which is Christ’s very body torn for us on the cross. But not only that, not only has a clean and open access been facilitated for us but we have also been afforded the confidence to walk through by His blood shed on Calvary. It is His blood that was shed on the cross at Calvary that makes us ooze with confidence in approaching and accessing God and His throne of grace.
Through the blood of Christ we are given boldness, and through His body that was broken for us, unprecedented and unhindered access to the Father. But it does not stop there – on top of the shed blood of Christ for our boldness and His broken body providing us with unhindered access, we have the risen Christ Himself, who has become our high priest, standing on our behalf in God’s house right now, in real time. Not only do we rely on the accomplished fact of Christ’s death on the cross but are called to enjoy its benefits evoked in real time by Christ’s current appearance for us before the Father.
How awesome is that! How comforting to know and confidence inspiring the fact that Christ Himself is standing before the father pleading my case founded on His perfect and sinless sacrifice on the cross. Such is the level of access we who have trusted in Christ enjoy and the reinforced confidence we have been afforded by Christ’s position He has taken and now occupies on our behalf, and the high priestly role He is playing for us.
All this is possible in the here and now, today, because of Christ who has passed through the heavens into the sanctuary not built by human hands and is there on our behalf pleading our case – our advocate and high priest.
To be continued….