Easter and guilt were never meant to be synonymous. Yet somehow, we have distorted its meaning into a “payback” or “owing” situation. “He died on the cross for YOUR sins,” or “this drop of blood is YOUR sin.” Although both statements are correct, the meaning behind them is steeped deep in guilt. But let me tell you something. When you’re mired in guilt, it’s very hard for love and compassion to rise and meet you. Mercy and love cannot survive in the face of guilt.
So why do we focus on the “what” instead of the “why” of the cross? Why does Easter have to be all about our sin and not His compassion?
Brian Zahnd, the founder and pastor of Word of Life Church, said it like this:
“The cross is many things, but it is not a quid pro quo to mollify an angry God. Above all things the cross, as the definitive moment in Jesus’ life, is the supreme revelation of the very nature of God. At the cross Jesus does not save us from God — at the cross Jesus reveals God as savior! When we look at the cross we don’t see what God does, we see who God is!”
If you’re in the boat where the meaning of Easter has been distorted for you (or by you), where you find yourself sitting in the pew and reflecting on all the sins that you have committed that contributed to His suffering, I want you to stop looking at the “what” and move your eyes to the “why.”
Stop looking at the cross as “payment” and start viewing it as “forgiveness.” Stop looking at the cross as “God’s wrath” and begin seeing it as “divine love.” Allow God’s mercy to flow into Easter again because God doesn’t want your guilt or your shame. He wants you. He wants you to believe in and accept His love. What he wants can all be summed up in John 3:16, “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.”
Allow Easter to be about that, and only that.