Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

Youth Page

Written by Peter Langbroek
Right now, in a ZellerÕs office, behind the desk and behind a computer, an accountant is adding. On the computer are the profits of Cadbury Easter eggs, baskets, and bunnies. Another Easter season has passed. In the stores the workers are packing the leftover baskets and boxes. And at home, a mother is cutting a $3.95 solid milk chocolate bunny for her children's bedtime snack.

Why the profit, why the packing, why the eating? There's nothing wrong with eggs. If you ever witnessed chick eggs hatch, you saw how first the beak cracks the shell and then the wet-looking chick hobbles out. It's amazing to watch! Bunnies, too, are cute. If you don't control bunny production (and some of you know that), you'd have to build a lot of cages! Sure, eggs and bunnies declare the beginning of spring and new life. It's an awesome act of God, and it reflects the meaning of Easter.*

Yet, are eggs and bunnies the message of what happened many years ago when Jesus hung on a cross? Do they resemble the stone rolled away that Sunday morning? Are they the reason you sat in church on Friday and Sunday? No, not a bunny, not an egg, but a lamb is the reason. Read on. I'll tell you why.

Jerusalem was packed as always that Passover Friday. An eerie day it was as people packed the narrow streets under the inky darkness. Hours ago it became night. No one knew why. There were voices of men, women and children, and the bleating of lambs: one year-old lambs, spotless, and healthy. They were going to the temple to be sacrificed. It would soon be the ninth hour, the hour of the evening sacrifice. The lambs looked so cute, so innocent and so gentle. If only they knew!

Outside Jerusalem, on a hill, stood three crosses. In the middle was a Man, nailed hands and feet to the cross. He was naked, bloody, whipped beyond description. In the darkness, in searing pain, He cried, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me!Ó (Mt. 27: 46)

Meanwhile, the crowd in Jerusalem kept moving toward the temple. The people were remembering Egypt long ago, when their fathers sacrificed a lamb and spread the blood on the door posts. They remembered how the lamb was eaten with bitter herbs to commemorate their bitterness as slaves. They knew they were given strict instructions not to break any bones. There, in the darkness, they climbed the stairs to the temple courts. The lambs kept following, as if nothing would happen.

Outside Jerusalem was the cross. Above it were the words in Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic: JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.

Jesus knew when it would be over. His mouth was dry, His throat parched. Hoarsely, He said, "I thirst." Some men heard it. They took a sponge, soaked it in the jar of vinegar and put it to His mouth. He sucked the vinegar. Then, with a loud voice, He cried, "It is finished!" He prayed, "Father, into Thy hands I commend My Spirit."

At that moment, inside the temple, by the altar of sacrifice, a lamb came forward. A knife came out. A man held it up and then he plunged it into the neck of the lamb. The lamb soon died, bleeding. And outside Jerusalem, Jesus died.

Then the ground shook. Inside the temple, in the holy of holies, the veil, thick as a man's hand, tore from top to bottom. In the hillsides, graves opened and many God-fearing people came to life again. It was so awesome that a Roman centurion and those watching Jesus die, trembled and cried out, "Truly, this was the Son of God! (Mt. 27: 54)

Yes, a Lamb was slain! He had no blemish; He was sinless. In the prime of His life He died. He was so innocent, so gentle! He was brought as a lamb to the slaughter. He offered Himself to God as a sacrifice. As a sacrifice, He bore the wrath of God for sinners, so all His saints are freed from the judgment of sin and its slavery, freed in Him by His precious blood as a ransom. God honoured His willing sacrifice by raising Him from the dead. This Lamb is now alive!

Where is He now? He is in heaven where the saints and angels worship Him and say with a loud voice:

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain
To receive power, and riches,
And wisdom, and strength,
And honour, and glory, and blessing.
(Revelation 5: 13, versified)

This is Good News beyond words! The Creator of the universe--the One who owns the bunnies and the eggs--His love is so divine that He died for sinners! He gives new life to bunnies and chicks in the springtime to give us a time of grace, that we may turn to Him. Praise the Lamb!

* The word Easter either comes from the Norse word ÒEosturÓ that means spring season or from an Anglo-Saxon goddess ÒEostre,Ó a fertility goddess. The word may even refer to the goddess Ashtoreth who was worshipped by the Israelites (I Sam.7: 3,4; I Kings 11: 33). Personally, I prefer Passover, Paschal feast, or as the Dutch call it Pasen.

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