As I pondered the words for this column, I was reminded of a song I've sung in church many times — "Jesus paid it all." It is one of my favorite songs and it goes like this: "Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe; sin had left a crimson stain, he washed it white as snow." This song reminds me of the sacrifice Jesus paid for me personally, and how without his sacrifice on the cross, I would have no chance of spending eternity with him.
As Christians know, to be with Jesus in eternity, we should be pure and free of sin. Have you ever tried to live a day free of sin? I can't say I have ever truly tried to do that. I guess in part because I know I would fail; I am human. Almost every day, I start with prayer, asking forgiveness of my sins because of the imperfect day/night I lived since praying last, and asking for God to change me so I can live a more sin-free life. I know many of you can relate to that and may do the same.
The good thing is that through Jesus's sacrifice on the cross, we have the ability to be cleansed from our sin through forgiveness. It is through our personal relationship with Christ that we have the ability to be made perfect — free from sin. It's ours for the asking. In Hebrews 8:13 we learn God said, "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."
Through Christ's death on the cross, we achieve forgiveness, enabling our relationship with him to be restored, no longer separated from him because of our sin. The Scriptures teach us Jesus had to suffer death for our sins and rise from the dead on the third day for us to be given the opportunity for forgiveness.
We see these recorded words of Jesus in Luke 24:44-48, when he appeared to the disciples in Jerusalem after rising from his death on the cross: He said, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets and the psalms." Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things."
Knowing that Christ rose from the dead gives us the ability to have faith in him so we can live our life here on earth with true joy and happiness. The well-loved verse, John 3:16, tells us, "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." This is true because Jesus did rise from the dead on the third day, which we celebrate today, and his death on the cross represents the payment for our sins if we turn to him for forgiveness.
Knowing of this opportunity for life with Jesus after death helps us put things on earth into perspective; it helps us deal successfully with life's everyday challenges that create worry and unhappiness. It also gives us the ability to forgive those who have trespassed against us. We learn that in Ephesians 4:32, where God tells us, "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."
In this space on Christmas Day, I asked us all a question about our relationship with Christ. What if we worked toward growing our relationship with Christ deeper between Christmas and Easter? The thinking was, if we did that, wouldn't we find Easter to be even more rewarding for us personally? My hope is that we have done that.
Yet today, we find a much different nation and world than we had on Christmas Day. A contagious virus outbreak plagues our health. Stores and venues have had to close, so the economy has collapsed. In many cases, we can't see family members and friends.
With that in mind, it's even more important to continue growing that relationship with Christ like between today and Christmas — praising him every day for what we do have and for giving us the ability to be "washed as white as snow."
Included with your paper today is a special Easter publication we hope helps you honor the true meaning of Easter and provides you with another way to gather with your family and share the story of the resurrection of Christ. We hope you enjoy it.
We also sincerely thank the businesses and organizations that sponsored this section, enabling us to bring it into your home. We appreciate you reading the Times Free Press and wish you a blessed and enjoyable Easter.
Contact Jeff Deloach at firstname.lastname@example.org.