Perhaps you were raised in a religion that does not celebrate the cross or maybe you grew up never hearing about Jesus the Christ. Let’s take a look at why the cross and the true reason for Easter are so important. When Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden, sin entered the world for the very first time. That sin is then passed from a father to his children. It’s called a sin nature. If you don’t think that is true just take a look at your own life, did anyone have to teach you to lie? Of course not, you came to it naturally; someone had to teach you to tell the truth though! Romans 3:23 says; For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.(NLT) Colossians 2:13 says; You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. (NLT)
We all have a problem then because we all have sinned. It gets even worse; let’s take a look at the second half of Romans 3:23. If by sinning we fall short of God’s glorious standard, or come short of the glory of God, (KJV) what is God’s standard? It is to be without sin, or perfection right? What is the penalty for all that sin? Romans 6:23 says For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. (NLT) The question then becomes what is a wage? A wage is what you earn! If you work at a job you earn a wage. Romans therefore says that, we all have sinned and that what we earn by sinning is death!
In Leviticus chapter 1 it talks about the sacrifice of an animal that could be offered to cover over the sin of a person. The death of the animal was accepted instead of the death of the person. There were some stringent requirements that had to be met by the person offering the animal and by the animal offered up for sacrifice as you can see in the following verses. Leviticus 1:1-5 1 The Lord called to Moses from the Tabernacle and said to him, 2 “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. When you present an animal as an offering to the Lord, you may take it from your herd of cattle or your flock of sheep and goats.
3 “If the animal you present as a burnt offering is from the herd, it must be a male with no defects. Bring it to the entrance of the Tabernacle so you may be accepted by the Lord. 4 Lay your hand on the animal’s head and the Lord will accept its death in your place to purify you, making you right with him. 5 Then slaughter the young bull in the Lord’s presence, and Aaron’s sons, the priests, will present the animal’s blood by splattering it against all sides of the altar that stands at the entrance to the Tabernacle. (NLT)
The Animal had to be a Male and without defect, or in other words perfect! A common misconception is that the sacrifices were carried out by the priests but a close reading of the above verses shows that the person bringing the sacrifice would lay his hand on the head of the animal and then sacrifice it. People who have slaughtered an animal in this manner will tell you that it is not a pleasant experience. You can actually feel the life drain out of the animal as the blood drains out because as Leviticus 17:11 says; for the life of the body is in its blood. I have given you the blood on the altar to purify you, making you right with the Lord. It is the blood, given in exchange for a life, that makes purification possible.
This presents us with several problems. First we owe a debt of a death each time we sin. That death must be both a male and perfect. Therefore even if we were to offer our own life as payment it would be rejected by God because not all are male and no one is perfect. Also the death of an animal in our place never removes the sin, only covers it until the next sin.
That is where Jesus’s death on the cross and subsequent resurrection come into play. Remember in the second half of Romans 6:23 how it said that God will give us the free gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord? The NLT version was used here because of its emphasis on free gift. God’s gifts do not have strings attached to them like a lot of our gifts. You cannot earn a gift, if you try it becomes a wage, and we already saw how we are bankrupt when it comes to paying for our own salvation. Isaiah 64:6 says We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind. (NLT)
In Geneses after the serpent or satan convinced Eve to eat of the forbidden tree God addressing satan says in 3:15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”(NKJV) Wait a minute! Doesn’t the seed come from the man? Yes it does except in the case of Jesus who was born of a virgin and therefore the seed of a woman! Remember how the sin nature is passed from father to children? Because Jesus was the seed of a woman He never received a sin nature. Jesus was also fully God while being fully Man at the same time and therefore never sinned. See John 1:1-5, John 1:14, John 10:30, 1John 3:5, 1Peter 2:22, Luke 1:35, Matthew 1:20-23 and Colossians 2:9. Hebrews 4:15, speaking about Jesus, says This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.(NLT) or as it has so aptly been said, “He came to pay a debt he did not owe, because we owed a debt we could not pay.” How many sins did Jesus pay for? Look back to Colossians 2:13 for the answer.
Let us not forget also, that three days later Jesus was raised from the Dead. Sin had no hold on Him so, therefore, neither did death.
For more on our sin nature see Romans chapter 5
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked (NKJV) taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked (KJV) are taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version, Cambridge, 1769.