Easter is upon us. It is an event that has been celebrated for thousands of years but definitely not as regular as clockwork. It is what is known as a 'moveable feast'. Originally, it was just to celebrate the Jewish Passover, when the Israelites were led out of captivity in Egypt by Moses. Then Christians, using the Jewish calendar for the time of Passover began to celebrate Easter following the death of Jesus on the cross. Some would say we celebrate the resurrection of Christ every Sunday. Some, like the Roman Catholics offer Jesus in sacrifice at every mass. Others may only see Easter as the time of giving and receiving Easter eggs, and sending cards with cute bunny rabbits. One wonders if some people would prefer to take the 'religious element' of the Cross out of the Easter celebrations altogether.
Easter is the bitter sweet time of Christianity. Christmas, or to be more precise, the time of the birth of Jesus Christ, when God became man, changed the earthly calendars. Albeit the dates are out by a few years and it is now believed that Jesus was actually born around September time. Nevertheless, Christians celebrate this time at Christmas. Yet it is Easter that is the defining point in the whole of history. Christ, the Son of God, was born to die. Not a natural death as most of us will die. Not a death through illness, accident or even murder. Not even a death for punishment of a personal crime.
No, Jesus was born to die on the Cross as a sacrifice for your sins and mine. He knew before the beginning of time that His death, and His death only, would be the only acceptable way for each of us to enter into the presence of the Father, cleansed by the blood of the lamb. When Jesus approached John to be baptised John declared "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." In Old Testament times it was an actual animal that was slain. In fact, there was a constant sacrificial slaying of animals to atone for the sins of the people. Yet the animal blood was never really sufficient enough. God the Father required a 'once and for all' sacrifice.
The penalty for our sins, past present and future has been paid. On the Cross Jesus said "It is finished". Yet how many of us really understand that? How many of us truly appreciate all that was done on the cross? How many of us live as though our sins really have been forgiven?
I can remember some years back crying out to the Lord. I was seeking the peace of forgiveness. I had been told that "He felt my pain.  He had been there. He knew what I was going through." In my anguish I wanted so much to believe that. But as one of millions of women who have killed my baby through abortion, I needed assurance. I cried out to God and asked Him how He could know my pain? He couldn't. The pain of a parent who had killed their child? Deliberately allowing their own child to die at their own hands?
Then it struck me. Not only did God the Father know my pain. But He had been there. He had willingly offered up His son, Jesus, to die. To die an horrendous death. Just like I had allowed my baby to die an horrendous death. He had known, before the beginning of time, that I would cry out to him, accusing Him, my God and Creator, of not knowing what I was going through. Oh, yes. He knew. And did I know the pain I had caused Him? In my innocence, naivety, pride, selfishness, call you what you will - did I now know that He had indeed 'been there'? Yes. I now fully knew, or at least as fully as we may ever know this side of eternity.
What was my response? One of thankfulness, gratitude, love. I know my responses are not really adequate and words cannot express them. But I do know that only God the Father, through the death and resurrection of Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit can forgive sins. I know that forgiveness for my sins. Abortion is a sin. However, it is not the unforgivable sin.  Each person who has had any part in an abortion decision needs to know the offence to the Father in destroying or allowing to be destroyed an innocent human, whatever the reasons.
Easter is indeed a bitter sweet time of year. The bitterness of betrayal and death and the sweetness of forgiveness and life.  I now know the blessed assurance of peace that follows true repentance and forgiveness.
Jesus is Lord of my life. This Easter, will He be Lord of your life? Or will you trust the Easter Bunny to make your life as sugary sweet as the chocolate Easter eggs?
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