As with any holiday, it is easy to get caught up in the traditions, family gatherings, and events of the season and forget the meaning of why we celebrate the day. The kids love coloring eggs, hunting for Easter eggs, and of course, eating the chocolate bunnies. But the true significance of Easter is so much more.
When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”
The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”
There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews.
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”
But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” –Luke 23:33-43
Reading this particular passage of the Easter story always brings a tear to my eye. I remember being a little girl and asking my mom to read this part over and over again. I cannot help but feel the immense amount of love that Jesus has for us, that he was willing to take the pain, humiliation, and punishment of a common criminal—as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins—when he had done nothing to deserve death.
But the beauty of the Easter story doesn’t stop there.
In this slow and agonizing death, the Son of God took all of our sins, our sickness, and our iniquities upon himself.
He faced death, so that we could have life. Eternal life with him in Heaven.
In this ultimate act of love, Jesus did everything that we need to be saved from our sin and the punishment that we deserve. Jesus’ death on the cross provides the gift of salvation; all we have to do is make the decision to accept that gift.