Easter is about God starting a new project on earth, not snatching people from earth into heaven but restarting the expansion of His kingdom through lighting of the lamp of His love in hearts of believers. Resurrection is the victorious coming of the Lord into our hearts to revive our dead lives through the Divine light of the Holy Spirit. It then truly becomes a symbol of hope, renewal and a new life for reaching out to others to be made partakers of the same glory. Lord’s Prayer, after all, is about this only.
God created all living beings, animals and birds, on the earth and established a set pattern in their lives through an inner voice controlling and guiding their lives and behavior pattern. Thus an animal follows a life style according to God’s design and rarely deviates from that despite sin having corrupted the nature. A man on the other hand was made to lead a life based on the knowledge of truth and lie and this was provided by God through His daily visits “during the cool of the day” in the Garden of Eden. Thus what was from God was true and everything else untrue. Man had the creative desire in him but it was controlled under God’s commands. Thus animals have something like an implanted chip in their mind to guide them while man was guided through the spoken commands of God. The only restrictive command in the Garden was about the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Any voice from within man attempting to lead him on any path was in violation of God’s commands for it was not from Him.
Why were Adam and Eve expelled from Garden of Eden? – In this light when we see the question of the serpent to Eve in the Garden, it is about an attempt to bridge the gap in the life style of the two. The serpent urged Eve to listen to her inner desires, despite the external command, for even that was supposed to be from God only as is the case with the beasts. The question of serpent then becomes a statement “Even if God has said do not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, so what? You eat anyway by listening to your inner voice”. Eve would have seen the tree many times before this but viewed in this new choice her interpretation of God’s command brings in six changes as told to the serpent. The said tree becomes the tree in the centre of the Garden through change of focus; command from eating becomes restriction even to touch it; permission to eat of “All trees changed to trees of the Garden; eat from the tree changed to fruit of the tree; certainty of death changed to “lest you die” – may be you shall die and timeframe of certain death omitted altogether.
Serpent’s planting of the seed of desire in Eve causes exaggeration of restriction while minimizing the resultant likely punishment/result, making God a harsh parent restricting even entry into the kitchen to stop eating of the cookies – “don’t even touch the tree”. And the timing and the result of that is made trivial – ‘lest you die’ while removing the certainty of the same while bring the tree of desire into the centre stage and removing the God placed Tree of Life to lesser importance. Looking at the same tree which she had many times in the past, Eve found it good, pleasing to the eye and desirable to eat. What was probably unnoticed earlier became the dominant factor and the desired thing after yearning for self needs takes charge. What was false or not suitable for man from God became the source of goodness for the two in the Garden.
Man had the inherent desire and the urge to create within him earlier but the same was governed by the knowledge of truth from the source of truth and restrained by that. Good and evil have a subjective element for what I consider good/evil may not be categorized the same by others thus bringing in human element while removing the procedure of choosing based on knowledge from God. God has total control over His desire to create including the time, the place and the product while man became controlled by the desires becoming a slave to it. Wisdom, a gift from God the Holy Spirit through His Word, is a tree of life to those who take hold of her (Proverbs 3:18) and Adam and Eve decided to forego that leading to their expulsion.
God does not abandon His people and arranged for transition of Moses from this life to the next by a special burial and provided the ‘garments of skin’ to Adam and Eve for their transition from life in the presence of God in the Garden to one outside. Maybe we are faced with similar situations when our children defy our choices for them and decide to marry someone not of our choice, move to a new job away from us and many other things not acceptable to us. We, having been made in the image and likeness of God, must help in their transition to this new life by forgiving the trespass and keeping the door open for future rapprochement.
Why do we suffer despite the indwelling Holy Spirit? – Lord Jesus promised all believers with ‘life of abundance’ while revealing the reason of His coming to the earth (John 10:10). But this does not mean a life free from suffering or sickness or any other trial during our life on earth. In the Garden of Eden sin of Adam and Eve not only resulted in their own fall from a blessed existence in God’s presence but also caused downfall of the nature and the earth while also succumbing to power and authority of evil forces. This fall also affected mankind and other living beings for we were made from the earth. The reasons for suffering and sickness can be known from the way Lord Jesus healed those who were brought to Him.
First, control of the demonic spirits as seen in Mark 5 when Lord Jesus travelled to the area of Decapolis and in Gerasenes an uncontrollable man living in the tombs came to Him. The evil spirits identified themselves as ‘legion’ or a group of spirits where a legion would comprise of 3,000 to 6,000 members. Lord Jesus commanded them to leave the man and he was healed immediately. Second, deficiency of essential elements in the body, where a man born blind was healed about whom people wanted to know if his parents or he had sinned prior to his birth. Our Lord clarified that this infliction was to reveal the works of God in his healing and after spitting on the ground applied the mud paste to his eyes commanding him to go and wash in the pool of Siloam. The mud plaster acted like a medicine by making up the deficiency in him and his eyesight was restored (John 9:1-12). In like manner use of medicines is resorted to for making up deficiencies in the body to heal and in certain cases prevent disease. Third, result of sins, where the Messiah’s death on the cross provides forgiveness to all believers but consequences of the sin must be borne by the body, soul, society and nature. Thus gluttony termed as a sin in Scripture would cause overweight and diabetes and other diseases and get manifested in the body. A paralytic man was lowered from the rooftop into the room where the Lord was and after forgiving his sins, he was commanded to pick up his mat and walk (Luke 5:18-25). After his sins were forgiven the man was healed and affect of the same removed. Fourth, infections, A leper cried out to the Lord to heal him and Lord Jesus reached out to this “unclean person” and his touch removed the skin infection causing leprosy in the man (Luke 5:12-15). Fifthly, psychological, social and spiritual reasons due to isolation from others, depression due to past sins or spiritual isolation caused after following pagan gods and unanswered prayers. Wherever Lord Jesus went “the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all” (Luke 6:19). One aspect of the power of healing released from the Lord was His love, care and compassion for all of mankind for He genuinely suffered their pain in Himself. His caring and caressing touch or embrace filled them with His love and healed them of their afflictions.
The Messiah Lord forgave their sins, touched them with compassion and love, commanded evil spirits to leave the suffering and even cured them of genetic defects caused due to their sinful ways. Medicines, surgery to remove the badly infected/affected body part coupled with prayer and loving care are all essential for healing the suffering. The indwelling Holy Spirit helps us in guiding us in prayer as well as through the revealed fruits of His presence in us to help us in acting towards healing others and ourselves.
Significance of Resurrection today – The penalty of sin is death for death came into the world only after the sin of Adam and Eve (Romans 6:23). Lord Jesus came as the Anointed Lamb of God to present Himself as a sacrificial offering for our sins, for in the Old Testament, an unblemished lamb was sacrificed and the sins of the one offering the sacrifice were transferred to it. Lord Jesus as Lamb of God bore our sins and paid in full the cost of redeeming us from our sins. And bearing our sins, He had to suffer death on our behalf and after death move into Hades, where were destined to be. Though He died for our sins, He Himself was sinless at birth, during His life and at death. Death, being the result of sins, would have no power over Him and in like manner Hades also had no authority to hold Him. In the power of the Holy Spirit He was born, conducted His ministry, died and surrendered His spirit to God the Father, tearing the curtain of the Temple from top to bottom, and in the same power He was raised from the dead on the third day. Through His resurrection a clear message was sent to all “principalities and powers” on earth and above that Satan, sin and death had been conquered by Him and with Him all that was dead in mankind was resurrected with Him and restored.
The indwelling Holy Spirit empowers and guides us to resurrect our dead relationship with God, self and others through repentance and forgiveness. We must forgive those who have sinned against us and seek forgiveness from God and where possible from those who have been wronged by us. Forgiveness of self for missed opportunities and sins is as important as forgiving others for their sins against us to really achieve a peaceful life. we are to seek help from God in resurrecting our dead business, jobs where we have lost interest and our shattered financial and social lives to really live the message of Easter.
Does Easter declare end of the Messiah’s ministry? – After resurrection the first person who meets the Lord is Mary Magdalene, who is commanded to not cling to Him for He has to yet ascend to the Father God. This ascension is basically the offering of His blood, shed on the cross, in the heavenly Temple at the altar there, to provide the resultant blessings to all humanity for whom He suffered and died. Having completed this essential task, Lord Jesus blessed the believers with His peace and empowerment (John 20:19-23). For forty days, thereafter, through the Holy Spirit, He “gave commandments, infallible proofs of His resurrection, and spoke about the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:2-3). Before His journey to the cross, Lord Jesus revealed the reason for His departure from the earth “so that the Helper could come” (John 16:7). To ensure this and after having completed His teaching work to the disciples about their future role, Lord Jesus ascended to heaven from an open place at Mount of Olives, witnessed by a fairly large gathering of followers. The angels declared before the same crowd that the “same Jesus” will come again in like manner (Acts 1:9-11). Before crucifixion Lord Jesus had already declared about His sitting at the right hand of God (Luke 22:69) and after ascension Scripture confirms the fulfillment of this fact (Mark 16:19) of His being enthroned and empowerment.
His ascension is as important as going to the cross for He must receive the “glory that He had with the Father before anything was” (John 17:5). Only after His empowerment can the day of Pentecost to empower the believers can happen. The uncontrolled desire can be controlled only then by listening to the inner voice of the Holy Spirit and mankind could be like God and reveal His glory by becoming children of God through faith in the Lord (John 1:12). As a child of God and acting in the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can then act to reveal the ‘Light of the Gospel” to others through our works of healing and even “forgiveness of sins of those who repent” in confirmation of the Savior’s promise (John 20:23). Lord Jesus blessed the believers to “do the works that I do and even greater works than these” after His ascension into heaven (John 14:12). Through the offering of His own blood on the heavenly altar, He has become our High Priest in heaven and intercedes for us before God the Father countering the accusations of the devil.
Easter is completion of one part of the Messiah’s work – to bring us up to the Jordan river, from where we have to take the establishment of His kingdom in other hearts by planting the seed of His love in their hearts. He has made us partakers of His glory and in this empowered state we can overcome the temptations like He did and emerge victorious before Him. Easter must lead to Pentecost for us and then acting in His power we wait for His second coming to reveal His kingdom that is now in our hearts to all by defeating Satan and his armies in battle. Lord Jesus created everything for establishment of God’s kingdom on earth and He will complete this through bringing the heavenly Jerusalem to earth. That is what we are to seek and pray for!