The Bible tells of a time long ago when the children of Abraham, the Israelites, were in cruel bondage in Egypt. It was prophesied in the Book of Genesis (Gen 15:12-14) that the descendants of Abraham would be enslaved and oppressed for 400 years. God said that He would judge the nation that enslaved His people and that the people would leave that nation with many possessions.
The Book of Exodus (Chapter 4 through Chapter 12) record the story of Moses and how the children of Abraham were freed from their slavery. Moses was commissioned by God to return to Egypt and tell Pharaoh "Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, Let my people go!" (Exodus 5:1)
Pharaoh asked Moses "Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice to let Israel go?"(Exodus 5:2)
Pharaoh asked Moses a question that coincidentally many today ask in their hearts if not out loud. "Who is this God that we should listen to Him?"
God answered Pharaoh in a clear and explicit manner. He sent ten plagues to punish, or if you will, to judge Egypt. The tenth plague was the angel of death was going to sweep over Egypt and the first born of every person, from Pharaoh himself to the lowest slave girl, would die.
Moses was instructed to tell the people of Israel to prepare a meal that consisted of a young lamb, unleavened bread and bitter herbs. (Exodus 12:8) When they killed the lamb they were to put some of the blood on their door posts and lintel. Upon seeing the blood so placed, the angel of death would pass over the house and the first born of those inside would not die.
As a result of this plague, Pharaoh kicked the people of Israel out of his country. Before they left, the people were given all manner of gold, silver and clothes by the people of Egypt. In effect, the people of Israel gained their "independence" from Pharaoh/Egypt.
Each year the people of Israel remembered these events by observing the "Passover" holiday.
Now fast forward to the first century. Jesus, the Christ, ministered to the people of Israel proclaiming He was the fulfillment of prophecy from long ago. In fact there are over 300 prophecies that were fulfilled by Jesus during His life, but I digress.
John the Baptist was baptizing people in the Jordan River and when he saw Jesus approaching he said "Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world." (John 1:29)
Man has a sin problem. The Apostle Paul proclaims that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) A few chapters later he teaches that the wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23) Now everyone has sinned and the penalty for those sins is death. What are we to do? I'm so glad you asked...if only in your mind!
The Apostle Paul teaches us that God made Jesus, who knew no sin, to become sin on our behalf so that we can become the righteousness of God in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:21) He also teaches us that while we were still helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly...us! (Roman 5:6-12) Jesus was our passover lamb.
In the second chapter of the Book of Acts the Apostle Peter presents a sermon on the day of Pentecost. I commend that sermon to your reading. (Acts 2:14-39) The gist of Peter's sermon is that God planned from long ago to provide a way for man to become reconciled to God, in effect to deal with man's sin problem. Peter teaches that this way involved Christ dying on the cross at Calvary. Peter was asked by those who heard his sermon "What must we do to be saved?" Peter answered "Repent and be baptized each of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins." (Acts 2:37, 38)
When Christ died on the cross of Calvary he provided a way for us to be freed from the enslavement to, and oppression of, sin. Like the people of Israel being freed from enslavement in Egypt we are now freed from enslavement to sin.
So Easter is so much more than chocolate bunnies, brightly colored eggs, and ham dinners. Easter is in effect the celebration and remembering of our independence day, our being freed from the power of sin.
I urge all of you to seriously think about these matters. Please ask if you have any questions or if I may be of any help. Please come celebrate with us as we worship on Sunday at the Manchester church of Christ at 9:30 a.m. HAPPY EASTER Everyone!