In the Orthodox churches of Eastern Europe, especially in Russia, the believers use a special Easter greeting. They greet each other with the words, “Christ is risen!” and are answered with, “He is risen indeed!” (In Russian: Kristos voskrjes! = Христос воскрес! Vaistinu voskrjes! = Воистину воскрес!)
In this context it is worth noting that the Russian word for “Sunday” means “resurrection.” Even in difficult times, like under Stalin, this tradition was not discarded, so that people in Russia are reminded of the resurrection of Jesus Christ every Sunday, just through their language.
We know that many people just experience Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter as beautiful traditions, without any deeper or personal meaning. Nevertheless, according to the Bible, these things have really taken place, and have historical evidence: the Man Jesus Christ, who called Himself the Son of God, was crucified, buried and rose from the dead on the third day. In the Bible it is described like this in 1 Corinthians 15:3-5: “…that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures …”
Not only the forgiveness of sins
As a child, I received a Christian upbringing, and I was well-versed in what was written in the Bible: Jesus’ death on the cross, the resurrection, the forgiveness of sins. Nevertheless, it wasn’t until many years later that I understood in the depths of my heart that Christ had died and was risen for me personally. It was almost like somebody had suddenly paid all my debts, which had kept me down and brought me into despair. Everything that had weighed down on my conscience, all my mistakes, all the wrongs I had done were cleansed away and atoned for in the same way, and a new life could begin. There is a saying that “A good conscience is a soft pillow to sleep on.” I clearly remember how happy I was when I could pour out my heart for someone I had confidence in, and could confess my sins. In Psalm 32:1-2 are these uplifting words: “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.”
Unfortunately, after a short while I would make the same mistakes and do the same wrong things again after all, and needed forgiveness again. But then, one day, I came into contact with people who told me about a victorious life, and that in the power of God it was possible to completely overcome bad inclinations like anger, envy, impure thoughts etc. When I am in a temptation, I can cry out and pray to God that I don’t give in and fall in sin. When I heard that and experienced it in others, I got a living hope and a great joy in my heart. Then I learned to read the Bible, which I had known since childhood, with completely new eyes.
A victorious life in Jesus’ footsteps
Jesus came to earth and was tempted to sin, just like we are, but He never sinned. He never gave in to temptation, as it’s written so clearly in Hebrews 4:15: “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
When He then died on the cross as an innocent sacrificial lamb, He provided eternal redemption for all those who want it. In 1 Peter 2:24 we can read: “… who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.”
He bore our sins on the cross so that we might die to our sins and live for righteousness, and not so we can continue with the same sins and mistakes for the rest of our life! No, He came as a redeemer and savior! And because He never sinned Himself, death couldn’t hold Him, either. Because of His life here on earth and by His death on the cross and His resurrection, I can now deny myself. That means consciously saying “No!” to sin. Then I can wait patiently when I am tempted to impatience, for example, or be silent when I am tempted to retaliate etc. In that way I also can live a victorious life and follow in His footsteps. “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: ‘Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth.’” 1 Peter 2:21-22.
I can and must say it: Christ is risen indeed! He really died for my sins, and He gives true and great strength to live a new life. If I follow faithfully in His footsteps (1 Peter 2:21), I myself will one day be resurrected to an eternal life!