The Greatest Love Story, Part I

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God  he created him; male and female He created them.” Genesis 1:27  “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good.” Genesis 1:31 a

Easter is quickly approaching and we will celebrate our Savior’s resurrection.  If you have not grown up in the church you may wonder what all the hoopla is about.  If you have grown up in the church, you may have celebrated Easter for decades and in time, may have lost a little of the “Wow” factor.

Let’s look at why Easter had to happen, and why God planned it the way He did.

Back in Genesis, God created everything.  You can read in chapter one He created the earth and everything in it.  He created man “in our own image”; The plural referring to God as the triune God, the Trinity: God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.  Man was set apart from His other creations.

God brought all His other creations before man, (Adam) and allowed Adam to name them.  Can you imagine how much enjoyment God received showing Adam all His creations?  Think of a small child proudly showing you his artwork!

Adam and Eve used to walk with God in the garden of Eden (Genesis 2:8).

But then one day, they decided to disobey God.  They ate from that fateful tree.  They knew that their eyes would be opened.  They may have hoped their eyes would be opened and that they too, would possess the knowledge God already had.  Satan, disguised as a serpent, had deceived them.  Indeed their eyes were opened.  They caught a glimpse of who Satan was, and why they should stay away.  They also realized God meant business!  He loved them dearly, yet would serve them their consequences as stated.

Their sin separated them from their loving heavenly Father. Sin.  That tiny three-letter word.  That word that does not appear so ugly when handwritten.  That word that is just one syllable.  Yet for something so tiny, it’s effects are so long-lasting.  Adam and Eve never returned to the garden of Eden.  Neither have you or I.

But, that is not the end of the story.  God is an all loving God,  He is also a just God.  He authored a plan to reunite Himself with his greatest love: you and me.

Prophets throughout the Old Testament spoke of a Savior who would one day be born on earth.  This Savior would save God’s people from their sin.  Because of the people’s acceptance of this Savior, they would no longer need to be permanently separated from God.

What about all the people between the Garden of Eden and the death of Christ?  Could any of them go to heaven?  Again, God had authored a plan for people to atone for their sins: sacrifice.  There needed to be a blood sacrifice of an animal when people of the Old Testament had sinned.  As I have read through the Old Testament, and I have often contemplated the sacrificing ritual.  As gruesome as I imagine it to be, I wonder if God wanted to drive home the point that when we do wrong, someone has to pay, and pay dearly for those deeds.

The Old Testament sacrifices set the stage for Jesus’ death. His sacrifice was to truly convict us of just what God was doing with His precious Son, and how deeply He loves us.

When God created man, He created him to be a thinking, feeling creation.  He created in man, a desire to worship something, so that we may look for Him.  He created us to communicate with Him, and one another.  He created us to communicate about Him to one another. God did not create us as robots who would instantly and automatically worship Him.   He lovingly gave us a choice.  A chance to choose for ourselves. He does not want our worship, our adoration, unless we truly want to give it to Him.  (That does not mean we are not to worship Him when we do not “feel” like it.  We can choose to worship Him even when our hearts are heavy.  The point is: we are not robots!)

God designed a plan to call us back to Him.  He did not desire that we be separated from Him forever. We need to live outside His wonderful garden, and we must toil for our food.   As a result of sin, we are continually needing to apologize to God, and atone for our mistakes. That was not what God originally planned to offer us. But that is not the end!  One day, because we accept Jesus, we will reside with them both in heaven, and sin will be no more. No more tears, no more pain.  Pain we caused ourselves.

God knew we would need a Savior.  He authored that Savior.  He told many prophets about that Savior.  His people knew to watch for that Savior.  People thought He would come as a king.  they imagined He would be wealthy.  But God wanted to make this Savior approachable for everyone.  He wanted the humble to not fear Him.  He wanted the wealthy and powerful here on earth, to be humbled.  He wanted all of us to recognize the deep, desperate need we each have for this Savior. He wanted us to know Jesus when He arrived.

Reflections:

1) Contemplate the “why” of Easter beyond sin.  Think a moment about the need for sacrifice.  The fact that in the Old Testament, blood needed to be shed to atone for sin.  If we still needed to practice that today, would you think twice before just going about your day? Do you realize that Jesus’ blood was necessary for us to return to God? How does that perspective change your attitude?

2) Do I often write off “little sins” as a part of my time or culture?  Do I need to take sin more seriously?

3) Do I really recognize just how deeply God loves me?  Do I allow myself to see that?  Or do I push Him away as we often do to so many other humans?  God is the one who will never fail you! He will never give up on you!

Please return next Monday,April 2, for Part II of the story!

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