Easter is the most joyous day in the Christian calendar, when we celebrate the living hope won for us by Jesus’ defeat of death. We are solemn together on Good Friday, but on Sunday we celebrate together that Christ is risen.
Have you ever thought about exactly how Jesus death saves us? Would it surprise you to learn that people have disagreed over this? Well, here is a potted summary (my Easter present to you!).
Some see the death of Christ as Jesus’ great victory over the cosmic powers. They see Jesus’ death as a ransom paid to Satan in exchange for the release of his captives, with the unfortunate (for Satan) twist that Jesus was a victim he could not keep. However, this is not right, because Satan does not have the power to bargain with God in that way.
Then there are those who understand the death of Christ as a wonderful example of love and self-sacrifice, intended to inspire mankind to similar deeds. You may not be surprised to hear that many “liberal” church people – those who don’t really believe in the supernatural side of Christianity – understand Jesus’ death in this way. But it doesn’t answer why Jesus’ death was necessary. It also throws us back on our own resources for moral improvement.
Finally, there is the true view (often called “penal substitution”), which is that Jesus’ death turns the holy anger of God away from us. The penalty for sin is death (Gen. 2:17, Rom. 6:23). Jesus died this death in our place, as our substitute (2 Cor. 5:21, 1 Pet. 3:18). He is the atoning sacrifice, or “propitiation” for our sins (1 John 2:2), meaning that he bore God’s anger at sin in order to save us. Sadly, this truth has met with much resistance through the centuries (hence the other theories!) because in our sinfulness we find it so hard to accept that God is rightly angry at our sin. But when, with the Spirit’s help, we believe that Jesus’ death was a penal substitution, we see that it was also a greater defeat of Satan, and a deeper show of God’s love, than we could previously have imagined.
Some important news:
- Introducing God is a great way to get familiar, get refreshed, or go deeper with the basic beliefs of Christianity, through a video and group discussion. I’m running the Introductory session of this course on Sunday 18th April at 6 pm.
- If you’ve joined St Jude’s in recent months, you’re invited to a Newcomers’ Welcome at the rectory on Sunday 18th April at 12 pm.
- Plans for our 4 pm congregation are continuing. See back page for more details. 6 pm service has now closed.
- Please note that next Sunday, 11th April, due to roadwork in Frances St, access to our carpark is only by entering Frances St from Avoca St. If you let the traffic controllers know you are using the church carpark, they will let you through!