HE IS RISEN!  WE ARE FORGIVEN. AMEN.

 I always chuckle when I watch the tv commercial where two boys are camped out in a mini-van parked in their driveway.  The dad, who has obviously been working hard on a building project, excitedly tells the boys that he finally finished building the tree house they’ve been waiting for!  The boys are comfortably situated in the back seats of the mini-van enjoying  a movie played on its ‘media system’.  Instead of responding with shouts of glee and excitement to the news that their long-awaited tree house is ready, they ask if the tree house offers the same comforts as those they’ve gotten used to in the van.  After determining that it doesn’t, they decide they’re good where they are, close the van doors, and the dad walks back to the tree house alone, scratching his head in bewilderment as he goes.  

The point of the commercial is to promote the features of the mini-van.  Although I do get a chuckle from this commercial, it occurred to me that we are often like those kids, so comfortable in our surroundings, that we fail to recognize the gift our Father worked so hard to prepare for us, too. 

The Easter story tells us that God loved us so much that He sent His one and only son to die for us, as a sacrifice on the cross, an offering for our sins, so that we could be forgiven for our sins.  I’ve known that story for as long as I can remember.  My boys learned it at a young age, too.  When my youngest son was just 4 years old he looked up at a dark red sun-catcher cross that hangs high on a window in our home and told me the dark red color reminded him of the blood Jesus shed for us on the cross.  (I remember that moment well.  It was one of my ‘proud Mama’ moments.  My son understood the meaning of the cross!  Thanks for that go to the education he received at church Sunday School and Weddington Christian Preschool. God bless our teachers!) 

We learn to recite the meaning of the Easter story, but do we actually understand it?  Until I read about sacrifices in the Old Testament, I did not have a true understanding or appreciation for what Jesus did for us when he died on the cross.  Sacrifices began way back in the Old Testament.  I started recognizing the significance of sacrifices and their importance to God when I read through the Book of Leviticus.  It immediately follows the Book of Exodus which tells of the Israelites exodus from Egypt.  Now that the Israelites are separated, ‘set apart’, from the influences of other people and religions, God is instructing them (the Hebrew people) that they are to be holy because He is holy (Leviticus 19:2).  Being holy meant living in a righteous and proper way that was pleasing to God, and offering proper worship to Him. An important part of worship was offering sacrifices.  The notes of my Bible (NLT- Life Application Study Bible), explain well what I want to say, so I will share them with you. 

“When God taught his people to worship him, he placed great emphasis on sacrifices.  Sacrifices were God’s Old Testament Way for people to ask for forgiveness for their sins.  Since Creation, God has made it clear that sin separates people from him and that those who sin deserve to die.  Because “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23), God designed sacrifice as a way to seek forgiveness and restore a relationship with Him.    Because He is a God of love and mercy, God decided from the very first that he would come into our world and die to pay the penalty for all humans.  This he did in his Son, who, while still God, became a human being.  In the meantime, before God made this ultimate sacrifice of His Son, he instructed people to kill animals as sacrifices for sin.  Animal sacrifices accomplished two purposes: (1) The animal symbolically took the sinner’s place and paid the penalty for sin, and (2) the animal’s death represented one life given so hat another life could be saved.  This method of sacrifice continued throughout Old Testament times.  It was effective in teaching and guiding the people and bringing them back to God.  But in New Testament times, Christ’s death became the last sacrifice needed.  He took our punishment once and for all.  Animal sacrifice is no longer required.  Now all people can be freed from the penalty of sin by simply believing in Jesus and accepting the forgiveness He offers. “   – Life Application Study Bible  New Living Translation

Did you catch that last sentence?  All we have to do to be freed from the guilt and weight of our sins is to believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior and to accept His gift of forgiveness.  It’s a shame that the boys in the mini-van missed out on all the joys and delights they’d find in the tree house their father worked so hard to build for them.  Unfortunately, they thought they already had everything they needed.  The father was left to walk away without them. 

It’s Easter.  Christ has risen!  We are forgiven!  Through Christ, your Father worked hard to build a new Kingdom for you.  It’s one of love and forgiveness.  Will you go with Him to check it out?  Or will He have to walk away without you?  

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