When I was a kid, the coming of spring heralded a strange and special time. My sister and my grandpa Bud observed a time-honored wager about whether or not it would snow on Easter morning. That would be odd if we hadn’t lived in the heart of the fabled “lake effect” snow belt that lies to the west of Lake Erie.
That’s a place where, from Halloween to Easter, the constant presence of snow would eventually rob the snowstorms of their power to surprise and impress. So, when spring finally arrived, even our most snow-hardened friends were always ready for a change.
One of the predictable seasonal changes was my mom’s encouragement to return to Sunday School. At best, my sister and I were occasional and reluctant Sunday School-goers. But Easter usually felt like a good-enough occasion.
During one springtime Sunday School class, I was asked what Easter meant to me. My mom had told me that, on Easter, we celebrated the resurrection of Christ. I understood that we celebrated the day that Jesus rose from the dead. But I honestly didn’t understand why he died — let alone why he rose again.
I’m thankful that, since that time, my understanding has blossomed. Now I understand that, according to the Bible, Jesus shed his blood and died on the cross in order to satisfy His Father’s requirement that a penalty be paid for my sin. And I understand that Jesus rose from the dead, in part, to prove that He is indeed the Son of God.
In the Bible, the Apostle Paul succinctly describes the message of the cross: “… Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; … he was buried, and … he rose again the third day according to the scriptures …” (1 Cor. 15:1-4).
According to the Bible, without the Cross, our only hope would be a very real hell. Why? The Bible explains that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). And the Bible describes the consequences of our sin: “… the wages of sin is death …” (Rom. 6:23).
I’m thankful that, according to the Bible, the Lord is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). I understand that my sins may be forgiven only because “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).
However, that forgiveness remains only a possibility until we personally repent and place our faith in Christ alone. The Bible says that “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” This Easter, I pray that you are ready for that kind of change!
If you have never made a decision to both turn away from sin and to receive Jesus Christ as your Savior, I urge you to do so today. “… behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2).
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom.10:13).
The Rev. Robert Hammond is pastor of Long Hill Baptist Church, 100 Middlebrooks Avenue, Trumbull, LHBaptist.com.