Easter is all about Jesus, and not just as an example

Easter is all about Jesus, and not just as an example

All of us have someone we look up to. Celebrity culture means that a great many people obsess over rock stars, sportspeople and actors. They know everything they can about their favourite celebrity. They read blogs, watch movies, go to concerts, buy merchandise, whatever it takes to know more about their person or to understand them more.

In a sense, Jesus is a celebrity. Most people have heard of Jesus. Even if you’ve never been to church before, the general idea of this man put to death by the Romans is known by most. And the temptation is to see him like any other historical figure, as someone to learn from. Jesus is an example for us. In some Christian circles, it was common a while back to wear bracelets with ‘what would Jesus do?’ written on them. We’d like to be more like Jesus, to be consistent, to serve God with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength.

Yet this idea of Jesus as example is not enough. It’s Easter week, and this weekend we will be reflecting on Jesus and his mission. We will be celebrating something Jesus did that we could never do. The core of the Christian message is that Jesus is not merely an example, but a substitute. As Isaiah put it 700 years before it happened:

4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.

 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.

 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned– every one– to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

                                                                                                                   (Isa. 53:4-6 ESV)

Isaiah didn’t say that the Servant (whom we know to be Jesus) came to show us how to live. He didn’t say that the Servant came to die so we should also die like he did. No, Jesus died as a unique sacrifice, achieving something no-one else ever could. We all had a massive problem with God and Jesus took our penalty in our place. Isaiah repeats this idea over and over again: Jesus has “borne our griefs”, “carried our sorrows”, “was pierced for our transgressions”, and more. Jesus did all this for us, in our place, not merely as an example to follow.

All of this means that our fundamental attitude to Jesus is not just as a teacher or even as an example, though those things are true. Jesus is our Saviour and our Lord, someone who achieved something for us we could never achieve. Our attitude should be thanks and worship. Our first response should not be “what should I do?” but “thank you Lord for what you have done for me”.

Happy Easter! May this coming weekend be a time of great thanks and worship as we celebrate what was done for us in our place in Jesus’ death and resurrection.