The big story of Easter

Palm Sunday, with the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, Good Friday with His crucifixion and Easter Sunday with His resurrection, are all familiar to most people.

These events are the historical climax of the Scriptures, but how do they fit into the overall story of the Bible?

The story begins with God creating mankind in His image for close fellowship as heirs and stewards of His work. But too soon, mankind falls into sin and forfeits that close fellowship with God.

They also find that their stewardship of the creation is complicated with the frustration and pain of corrective discipline. Even so, God promises that one of their descendants will be the means He will use to bring them back into close fellowship with Him and unencumbered enjoyment of His creation.

Noah's name means "rest," and he was chosen in confident expectation that this promise would come to pass. The earth was given rest through Noah from prevailing and extensive evil, but it was only a confirmation of the promise, not a fulfillment of it. Even Noah and his family continued to suffer the effects of sin.

God renewed His promise in Abraham, choosing his descendants to be blessed and a means of blessing to all other peoples. Through Moses, God established the priesthood to show that the sacrifice of a substitute is the way mankind would be brought home to God and the garden as pictured in the Holy of Holies at the heart of the temple. The prophets declared that those who looked to God through the priestly sacrifices would manifest their homecoming to God through lives of faithfulness and obedience. God promised King David that this One who would bring mankind back to God — the Messiah or the Christ — would be one of his descendants.

Jesus is the Son of David, the one who accomplished perfect righteousness, the unblemished sacrifice for sin, the High Priest of the original tabernacle in heaven and the prophet like Moses, who is the very Word of God. He is the one who, fulfilling all the promises and pictures of the Hebrew Scriptures, came from heaven to rescue us. He rescues us from temptation by His obedience (whole life), from sin by His death on the cross (Good Friday), from death by His resurrection from the dead (Easter) and from the tyranny of evil by His gracious rule at the right hand of God (Pentecost). He is the one who, by this work, opened up a new and living way for us into the Holy of Holies in heaven, the garden of intimate fellowship with our Creator. He brings us home!

But He requires His rescued people to be patient while He enlists them in the arduous but joyful task of bringing all His people home. When that is done He will come again, remove all wickedness and undo all the wicked. In this way, He will put His previous work into full effect in the new heaven and new earth where righteousness — and God Himself — dwells. That is the garden of full fellowship with God, including all righteousness perfected and no serpent to trouble us ever again.

This is the big story of Easter. The life, death, resurrection, ascension, present rule and future coming of Jesus is the fulfillment of all God's promises, the point of all God's pictures and the joy of all God's people.

Follow Jesus back home to God. Happy Easter!

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