We all like things made simple – so here’s the traditional Easter story, the story of the Bible, condensed into a few verses of rhyme and stick figure.
She cheated on him.
He loved her. He gave her everything she could want.
But she wanted more. She wanted to be the boss.
It’s how the Easter Story starts – right back at the beginning: a story of him and her. The Bible describes it as a lover’s betrayal – but it’s talking about God and us. He created a beautiful world, perfect satisfaction of every kind, but we left him. We broke the rules. We’ve gone against the loving morals God created for life. In every unkind word, thought or action, we rebel against God.
What happened next? We cut ourselves off from the maker of the universe, and the world we see shows it – war, natural disaster, and human evil – suffering, in this life, and in the next. But …
… He didn’t give up. He didn’t owe her anything, but he loved her. She meant everything to him. He gave everything to get her back.
Wrongs cannot be ignored or swept under the carpet. But she had nothing to give to make it up to the one who had given her everything. So he sent someone to rescue her – to rescue their relationship. Someone to pay for her wrongs. And not just anyone – he paid for them himself.
Easter is the story of the greatest act of forgiveness – a man called ‘Jesus’ (meaning ‘Rescuer’), unjustly executed in AD33. His good life and teaching had created enemies with the religious hypocrits of the day. Even worse to them, he claimed to be God – something incredibly arrogant, unless it were true. But this God came not to condemn – as they were so good at doing – but to serve a human sentence, die a human death, and pay for the things that hurt him most – our wrongs.
He, she – did they meet again?
He forgave. Did she return?
The Easter Story has an open ending, we write it ourselves. Will you keep running, or will you return to the one who loves you more than anyone ever can – the one who gave everything for you – the relationship that makes us truly alive: spiritually, emotionally, physically?
Jesus died and returned from death to prove he really was God’s rescue plan – the one who could take away the sentence we have brought on ourselves. He made it possible for people to do the unthinkable, to become friends with God – forgiven and accepted, in this world and the next – not through our merit but his.
It’s Easter. Are you ready for a new start? Are you ready for a new relationship?
All of us have done wrong, and fallen short of God’s goodness. But God treats us much better than we deserve … Even when we were God’s enemies, he made peace with us, because Christ died for us. From Romans chapters 3:23 and 5:10, The Bible
We’d all like it to be true but is it just wishful thinking? The Bible claims there is evidence for God and the afterlife – not just in a message or sign from God, but something more solid. God entered the world in the form of life itself, as a living person – Jesus of Nazareth. He gave us evidence – even better, a demonstration – of himself and of life after death.
But can we believe it? People just don’t rise from the dead. Wasn’t the idea that Jesus was God just invented later? It sounds outrageous to us, but remember that the God the Bible describes created the laws of physics. If he is to give us evidence of himself, the evidence has to defy these laws and show us there is one who controls them. If it were anything less than miraculous you might accuse God of not giving you good enough evidence to believe. It was meant to be something that doesn’t happen in our normal experience of life.
So is it believable? Jesus is one of, if not the most striking person in history. He made a claim that could only be made by a madman, unless it were true – that he and God were one and the same. Yet he did not behave like a madman – he was able to outwit his opponents with rational arguments and morality that has been admired around the world ever since. Jesus’ divine nature was not decided by a committe hundreds of years later, as one popular novelist recently described. We see him making this claim himself in the eye-witness accounts of his life in the Bible (John 10:30, for example).
And Jesus gave the reason God would do something so unbelievable as becoming man. He said he had come ‘not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many’ (Matt 20:28, Mark 10:45) – a perfect God dying a human death, in our place, for our wrongs, to give us a reward that we don’t deserve: heaven. And Jesus demonstrated life after death to prove it.
Has God given us evidence of himself and the afterlife? If he has, then Jesus’ life, death and resurrection is the most obvious sign in human history. It is too important to overlook, too much hangs in the balance. Take the opportunity to find out more.
The beard, the naughty or nice list … it’s how many picture God. So is he just a made-up Santa for adults? Can we know if he really exists or what he is like?
Has science, for example the Big Bang, ruled out God, just as gravity rules out flying reindeer? The Big Bang is an explanation for how the physical world has developed from an initial ‘dense state’, but does not explain how this, or the laws of physics, started to exist. Can something physical be the cause of it all, with no need to ask what caused that? In time and space there is always a ‘before that…’. So could something outside of time and space exist, someone eternal like God? And would he care about us if he did?
What evidence would convince us that there is a creator of the laws of nature and life itself? An act that breaks these laws or creates life itself, perhaps? The Bible claims that God has given evidence, in the life and death of a person called Jesus: a life created from nothing, born from a virgin, and 33 years later, raised from death.
It sounds outrageous … We often want to dismiss anything labelled ‘miraculous’, but remember if God does exist, we’d demand something similar as proof. Is it so strange that God would communicate with us, not merely in words or information, but in the most advanced form – life itself?
But the Bible claims these events are not just evidence of God’s existence. They show that God has not abandoned the world but rolled up his sleeves and got dirty to fix it. He gave us a prototype for life: one of love and forgiveness. From the baby in an animal trough onwards, the most powerful being in the universe showed how real power is so different from how humans have exercised it.
But here is where God is most unlike Santa … He did not come to make a list of naughty or nice, but to erase our record of wrongs. As Jesus died, he chose to suffer death and hell for us, pay the penalty for our wrongs, and offer forgiveness and life after death to those who turn to him. If such good news is true, we cannot ignore it …
The Bible says we need to admit that we’ve ignored God and broken his rules. We need to say sorry and have a change of direction – with God in the picture this time. To make things right between us and God, we cannot rely on our own efforts and goodness, but we need to rely on what God has done for us through Jesus.
The Bible puts it like this … ‘For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son so that anyone who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it. There is no eternal doom awaiting those who trust him to save them. But those who don’t trust him have already been condemned for not believing in the one-of-a-kind Son of God. The Light from heaven came into the world, but they loved the darkness more than the Light because they were not really interested in pleasing God’ (John 3:16-19, ‘The Living Bible’ & ‘The Message’ Translation)
Enjoy our Easter video …
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