If you look at the animated gif on our Higher Ground Chapel Home Page, youŐll notice that it contains the cross and the tomb, which are two of the four essential ingredients in the Easter story. To complete the recipe, two other components must be added, and they come from the main phrase contained in the gif:
If you have everything but Jesus, you have nothing.
If you have nothing but Jesus, you have everything!
The cross and the tomb are useless without these fundamental elements. That key pair consists of Jesus and you. To understand the importance of the Easter story, one must examine each of the four basic ingredients. They are separate, yet when combined, they produce a spiritual smorgasbord that alone can satisfy the hungry human heart. Let us begin our culinary cruise with the prime piece Ń Jesus.
Why does the Easter story center around Jesus?
Books have been written on this subject, but the truth is very simple. God planned it this way, and when He cooks up a meal, nobody else is allowed in the kitchen to add or take away anything from His recipe. He created the universe, made man, woman, and every other living and non-living thing that exists. Since He is God, He knows everything about all the essential ingredients, so there is no one better to act as the head chef. We may question why the story (recipe) unfolds as it does; we may dislike the taste of certain portions of the meal, but it is His recipe.
Ľ God alone created the recipe. He alone chose the ingredients.
Ľ God alone chose who would be served.
Ľ God alone chose when and where to serve it.
God created the recipe...
The apostle Peter explained it as he addressed the Jews in Jerusalem...
22 "Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.
23 This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.
24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.
Acts 2:22-24 NIV
God alone chose who would be served...
The Easter story is for everyone who lives on this planet. It is for the people of this world who are hungry for the truth about life, death, and what is to come after death. Although life is very complex, the basics, at least according to God, are pretty simple.
Ľ We are all sinners.
...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God... Romans 3:23 NIV
Ľ GodŐs punishment for sin is death.
For the wages of sin is death... Romans 6:23a NIV
Ľ GodŐs recipe provides an alternative payment method for sin. Jesus said,
"I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life."
John 5:24 NIV
The apostle Paul finished Romans 6:23 in this manner...
but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23b NIV
God does not want to send you or me to hell (2 Peter 3:9) to pay for our own sins, so He provided Jesus as an alternative method to receive payment for our sins. Here again, in the verses below, are the two essential ingredients Ń Jesus and you.
16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.
John 3:16-18 NIV
God alone chose when and where to serve it...
God sent Jesus to live among us (John 1:14) about two thousand years ago. When the time was just right, Jesus began revealing Himself as God to those He encountered. He performed many miracles in and around Jerusalem so that we might believe He was who He said He was (John 20:30-31).
Then again, at the right time, Jesus went to the cross, one of the essential ingredients in the recipe, to pay for our sins. He did that so God might be satisfied and accept His blood as payment for our sins. All we need to do is admit we are sinners in need of a Savior and believe that Jesus will do what He says to make us acceptable to God.
Finally, we come to the tomb. ItŐs not one that still contains the remains of a great man, Jesus, itŐs an empty tomb that couldnŐt hold the God-man, Jesus Christ. The tomb is empty, and thatŐs what makes Easter different (Matthew 28:1-6). It is a celebration of the risen Lord Jesus Christ. No religion in the world can boast of a risen Savior. It is unique to Christianity.
You are the only part of the recipe that remains to be added. You are the final ingredient in GodŐs recipe, one that God loves beyond measure. Will you accept GodŐs recipe for the payment of your sins, or will you reject His plan and go it alone and pay for them yourself? May GodŐs Spirit stir the ingredients of His recipe in your heart.
Mountain Time Moment
20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law;
rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.
21 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known,
to which the Law and the Prophets testify.
22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference,
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
24 and are justified freely by his grace
through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.