Perhaps even more than Christmas, the church celebrates the Easter season with spectacular displays of art, music, and public worship services. The hymns and choruses are majestic and glorious; the banners and flowers magnificent; the worship services are breathtaking; and the season of Lent is frequently marked by “out of the ordinary” acts of prayer, fasting, devotion and self-denial.
In the midst of all these outward celebrations — however appropriate they are — it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that Easter calls for a response of humility and repentance.
The cross was necessary because not only was our rebellion tragic, it was wrong. There’s a judicial penalty to our rebellion and justice demands recompense.
Our rebellion is to metaphorically turn our back on God and we experience sin and death as a result. But there is a further consequence.
The penalty of our rebellion is for God to metaphorically turn His back on us. The consequence of that is devastating. Because until God’s wrath is satisfied, repentance is futile. He decreed that He will not bless us until the judicial penalty for our sin is paid.
Thankfully, Jesus paid our debt on the cross.
O Lord, who hast mercy upon all,
take away from me my sins,
and mercifully kindle in me
the fire of thy Holy Spirit.
Take away from me the heart of stone,
and give me a heart of flesh,
a heart to love and adore Thee,
a heart to delight in Thee,
to follow and enjoy Thee, for Christ’s sake, Amen.
— Ambrose of Milan, 4th century bishop
Photo taken by Michael Quinn and used here under Flickr Creative Commons.