Life on this earth gives us all burdens.
Our burdens are unique to us as individuals, but they all tell the same story, more or less. We experience tragedy. We feel pain and weakness. We succumb to the darkest parts of our nature. We do something wrong, and we fall. We experience the consequences of our actions, time and again - and yet we continue to stumble.
Eventually, the impact of this sin will take its toll. Everything we do comes at a cost - even the smallest of things. And the end result is death (John 3:18, Romans 6:23).Our world is broken, and those of us who live in it become just as broken as everyone else; this is a fact of life. The sins of humankind will kill us all - and there is nothing of this world that can save us (Ephesians 2:8).
But there is Someone who can.
The history we celebrate each Easter Sunday is the evidence of what people all over the world have come to accept as truth: The Creator wanted His people to understand just how much He loved them, so He came to earth as a Man to wipe the record clean (John 3:16). The consequence for any action against God is death, and so Jesus paid the ultimate price and took that consequence upon Himself - once, and for all.
The Easter story is not just about the mercy of taking away the consequence of sin. Anyone can show mercy. Mercy can be heartless. Mercy can be cold. Mercy merely demonstrates the superiority of the punisher above the guilty. Mercy can be kindness shown with the expectation of similar compensation in the future.
No, Jesus is so much more than that. Easter is about grace: mercy based on love.
Grace means the consequence for our sin has been eradicated completely and replaced by the love of God. Grace is unmerited goodness, undeserved faithfulness, and unwarranted forgiveness. When we sin against God - as we all have, in our own ways, through our own burdens - we deserve nothing less than death. But Jesus interceded for all of us and paid that price already, even when He didn’t necessarily have any guarantee that we would love Him back. “While we were still sinners, Jesus died for us” (Romans 5:8). He showed us unconditional love through grace.
Many of us haven’t loved Him back. True, unconditional love is rare in life, and there are those who never experience this from another living person. Because of that fact, it can be hard to believe that it could ever exist.
But the fact of the matter is that it does - and Jesus proved it to us through His death on the cross. By celebrating Easter, we put aside a special time every year to remember the awesome beauty of the grace He showed to us. He gave us the gift of freedom from the condemnation of our sins. All we have to do is accept the love that He has shown to us, and our spiritual burdens will be lifted (Revelation 3:20).
We come to God like little children. Like a child who has broken a vase, and approaches their father with tears of shame in their eyes, we understand that the sins we commit have doomed us. But God, as the loving Father that He is, only opens His arms to us and says, “You are already forgiven.”
Have you let God’s unconditional love into your life? Do you accept the grace that has already been given to you? If not, I pray that you would seek Him out. And if so, I encourage you to share that love with someone this week, because the gift of salvation is too important to keep to yourself this Easter.
Worship & Media Director
Riviera Baptist Church