Chag Sameach – A Joyous Festival
Today is a special day when the Jewish and Christian holidays of Passover and Good Friday coincide. The two pillars of Western Civilization – the Jewish and Christian faiths – will celebrate the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Jesus.
Jews all over the world will gather tonight to celebrate the miracle of Passover, commemorating the liberation of their people from ancient Egypt.
The Book of Exodus tells us that Moses was sent by God to tell Pharaoh to "Let my people go." When Pharaoh refused, a series of plagues were inflicted on the Egyptian people. Through it all, Pharaoh's heart hardened and he still refused to end the bondage of the Jews.
The final plague that God used to free the Jews from Pharaoh and Egyptian captivity was to kill all the firstborn males.
Forewarned by God, Jews marked their doors with the blood of a lamb, and, as a result, He passed over their homes. Pharaoh finally relented and released the Hebrew people. (Exodus, Chapter 12.) God told the Jewish people to mark the day as a memorial day and to observe it as a feast to the Lord forever.
God was with His people then as He liberated the Jews of Egypt and led them to the promised land of Israel. He is with them now.
To all our Jewish friends, Chag Sameach, a joyous festival!
Of course, Jesus and his disciples were Jews, so they celebrated Passover. And whether the Last Supper was in fact a Passover meal has been the subject of much debate.
Sadly, it seems that the resurrection itself has become debatable. A recent poll conducted for the BBC found that only 46% of self-identified Christians in the United Kingdom believe that "Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected at Easter so that you can be forgiven for your sins." I'm not entirely sure why the other 54% think they are Christians!
While Christmas tends to overshadow most holidays, ultimately, it is not a birthday (or chocolate bunnies) that we celebrate -- it is the resurrection. It is Easter that makes us Christians!
If Christ had not risen from the grave, He would have been forgotten as a common rabble-rouser whose birthday would have no significance.
Today, on Good Friday, we think about the Cross and the sacrifice paid for our sins; the amazing love that took our place; and the grace we have been given. Romans 5:8 tells us, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
While some worship a god who commands men to die for him, we worship a loving God who gave His son to die for us. Thank God for the cross and the empty tomb!
With Christ's resurrection, we have confidence in a caring Creator, rather than the chaos of the cosmos. We have confidence in a glorious future, rather than the finality of the grave.
Why do we have such confidence? Because "It is finished." Christ's atoning work on the Cross is done, and we are saved.
On Easter morning, we do not gather to remember a martyr. We come together to worship the risen Son of God!
He is risen! He is risen indeed!