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Monday, March 20, 2023

God’s Plan for Humankind and Easter as the Game Changer

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The initial plan of God was that humankind lives in abundance. God’s purpose is to have humankind on earth reflecting on God’s image and to have dominion over the earth under the sovereignty of the Almighty God. This is revealed in Genesis 1: 26, 28. Just the way we want to have a watch to tell us what time it is, we also need to have a purpose for that time and timing. Essentially, this implies that human beings were expected to live harmoniously with each other and with God. Ultimately, they would praise God. Therefore, all that was required of the human race was to worship and honour God. However, God’s great plan for humankind got a turnabout when humans sinned against God by eating the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge. It was after human’s fault and fall that God in His mercy offered Jesus Christ as a sacrifice so as to redeem us from sin. That was the birth of Easter.

God created the earth and all that is in it

Easter is celebrated as a commemoration of the suffering and crucifixion, culminating in the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is also marked as a celebration of the defeat of death and the hope of salvation. Easter is a time of reflection on the great love that Jesus showed and always has for humankind. To understand our text, there is a need to understand God’s purpose and love as revealed throughout the Holy Scriptures. This is because Easter is the climax of why Jesus existed, was born, and came to earth. It is well written in the Holy Bible that the sole purpose for which Jesus came to earth, was born of a virgin Mary and suffered and was crucified to death was so that God through Christ could save humankind from their sinful nature.

The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ during Easter is therefore the first of many resurrections rather than an event in itself. Christians celebrate it, not as a random act of divine power but as an establishment of God’s eternality into a family into which those who confess Christ are adopted into when we believe and accept Christ as Lord. This is because those who confess Christ are made children of God and heirs of God’s Kingdom, a promise necessitated by Christ’s resurrected life making us new. This is why the Apostle Paul contends that ‘therefore if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come, the old has passed away and behold the new has come’ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Jesus Mastered Death and Provides Death Answers

The story of the life and later the death and resurrection of Jesus appears largely in the synoptic Gospels. Indeed, the advancement in technology makes it possible to have several versions of the Holy Bible as well as various commentaries. The Gospels in particular cover in more detail the last steps of Jesus towards the cross. This is perhaps the reason why there are several interesting and compounding thoughts among people in regard to the life, suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ marked by the Easter Holiday is our focus in this Special Edition of The Counsel-ling Magazine as there are certain pertinent issues such as follows:

(1) If Jesus is one with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, how would God die?

(2) Where did Jesus go in death?

(3) What kind of a body did Jesus possess when Jesus rose from the dead?

Let us discuss these questions with reference to a series of biblical verses. In the book of John 11:25 – 26, Jesus confesses to be the resurrection and the life. This then means that in Christ, there is no death, but only life. So, even when Apostle Paul asks, ‘Oh death where is your sting?’, the answer is right there, that Jesus conquered death and there is life in Christ. During His life here on earth, Jesus performed many miracles, which includes Jesus healing people, giving sight to the blind and raising the dead. For instance, Lazarus got sick and died (John 11:1– 44). Before Lazarus died, his sisters, Mary and Martha had sent for Jesus with the hope that Jesus would heal Lazarus. John 11:21 says, “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.” But to Jesus, Lazarus was not dead. Rather, Lazarus was just sleeping. That is why Jesus was not in hurry to visit after receiving word that Lazarus was sick. This is because Jesus knew that he could reverse death into life. Hence, Jesus did not do much when raising Lazarus. Instead, Jesus just called Lazarus (John 11:43) out from the grave. In John 11:25, Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die, and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” It was the same thing when Jesus saw Jairus daughter. Jesus remarked, “she is sleeping.” And, Jesus just called Jairus daughter from sleep and she rose.

Probably, the greatest question I would pose as a person who confesses that Christ died and rose again is this: Do you believe that Jesus died and rose again from the dead?

Easter: A walk with the Lord Jesus Christ and Victory over Death

During Easter, we are taken through an important event in the History of humankind. In John 11:26 Jesus said, “and he who believes in me will live even though he dies.” However, Christ wants to demonstrate the faithfulness of those words and this is done through assurance and promise of eternal life in Jesus after the physical death. This implies that, although we will eventually physically die, we shall live again. The people that Jesus raised through several miracles might have physically died for a short time; hours or days, but there is no timeline for which one can be raised after death. In Ezekiel 37, we read of the valley of the dry bones and how God asked Ezekiel to prophesy to the dead bones to come back to life. This means that there is no death in God and in Jesus Christ. This is the whole essence of Easter. This is because we have an assurance and hope by believing in God, for Christ’s death reconciled us back to God.

“Earth recedes. Heavens opens before me. If this is death, it is sweet! There is no valley here. God is calling me, and I must go.” DL Moody

Easter then is not just about and has never been about the death and resurrection of Jesus. Instead, Easter is part of God’s plan of salvation. This is because God’s ultimate purpose in redemptive history is to create a people that dwell in God’s presence glorifying and praising God throughout our lives and forever will be with God. All of us now have the greatest hope and promise in our hearts, and our faith is restored by knowing that death is not the ultimate end of life, nor is death final. DL Moody while dying remarked, “Earth recedes. Heavens opens before me. If this is death, it is sweet! There is no valley here. God is calling me, and I must go.” Indeed, the death and resurrection of Jesus gives us hope of another life beyond the physical death and the grave. For believers who have died in Christ, there are those who had heaven opened to receive them and others who had angelic choirs. Stephen saw Jesus seated at the throne of God. To these and others, we are all smiles because of the assurance that the death and resurrection of Jesus made a significant difference in our lives.

Happy Easter now and always.

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