E34: Easter, a new hope, footsteps to follow

PODCAST: A perfect time to reflect on the reason why we can have hope for eternal life and a chance to follow Jesus!

  • E34: Easter, a new hope, footsteps to follow
  • Easter this year might look very different for most of us, but the message doesn’t change. What a great time like no other to reflect on the reason why we can have hope for eternal life and a chance to follow Jesus so that His life can also become our life! Share the excitement with Milenko and Eunice in this Easter episode.

    Transcript: “Living the Gospel” podcast, Episode 34: Easter, a new hope, footsteps to follow

    This is ActiveChristianity’s “Living the Gospel” podcast. Join us as we explore different aspects of the gospel according to the Bible, and how we can put this into practice in daily life.

    Eunice: Welcome to Episode 34 of “Living the Gospel.” It’s Eunice and Milenko here with you this week.

    Milenko: Hi everyone!

    Eunice: So, Good Friday is just two days away and Milenko, you have an article on the website that’s typically read a lot more during this time of year: “Why did Jesus have to die on the cross?“ What do you think are some of the main thoughts behind this question being asked?

    Milenko: There can be a few different reasons, like what was the point of Jesus having to come; why couldn’t we just continue with, for example, getting forgiveness through sacrifices, like in the Old Covenant? Why did Jesus Himself have to die, the Son of God; couldn’t it have been done by someone else? And why did He have to die at all, like what’s the purpose of it, you know? There’s a lot of different things here.

    Eunice: Yeah, it is especially the time of year when we remember Jesus’ crucifixion, resurrection and all the events leading up to it. What happened after it … Really a time to reflect on what this means for us. You also started the article with Adam and Eve and the fall of sin, which is kind of a joke we have in the office because you can’t avoid starting every article with Adam and Eve and the fall of sin. But why is that?

    Milenko: Yeah, that’s true. I do tend to do that, don’t I? I think that the main point is that when we’re talking about our Christian life, we’re talking about salvation, we’re talking about following Jesus, what He did for us, the very fact that Jesus came to earth; there’s a reason for it and the reason is that we need salvation from sin. Sin was not God’s creation. Sin came to the earth through Satan and people’s free will, that they chose to do it, and we got a separation between God and His creation, between God and people. And that’s what Christianity is all about – how that curse can be broken and how we can come back. I like to give a bit of history to give a bit of background. It starts with Adam and Eve, but that’s what happened there; it was really momentous because it had implications for all of mankind throughout all of history. Every one of us has inherited what we call the flesh, with sin in the flesh, that we get tempted. It’s all been inherited by every person on earth, and the work of salvation is how we can break those bonds of sin.

    Eunice: And I think that’s why Easter can be something very personal for us when we think about … First, you think about the problem, which is sin, and then you think about the solution, which is the whole reason why Jesus came. So, when you think about Easter, actually, without Jesus, we would have no hope.

    Milenko: Nothing at all. It would actually be a hopeless situation because sin is so strong, it binds people so much that we couldn’t have come out of it by ourselves.

    Eunice: So, it’s actually all part of God’s plan.

    Milenko: I think the question sometimes arises, why did God have to do all these other things first? Why did He let people be tempted at all? Why should they fall?

    Eunice: He gave the 10 commandments.

    Milenko: He gave us the 10 commandments; He gave them the law. He tried to start again with Noah, He did lots of different things, you know, why did this all have to happen?

    Eunice: Why didn’t He just send Jesus right away?

    Milenko: Exactly, why didn’t He do that? I think the main point was that God needed to show that His way is perfect. There is no other way and He is the only one that can actually help us. And people tried; there were a lot of good people that did try, they tried to keep the law, they tried to follow God’s commandments, they tried to do His will and please Him but most people didn’t. And God really needed to show that following your own will, following the sin in the flesh, only leads to perdition. It leads to death, and even those who tried, those who were really upright, they did their best, they couldn’t do it in their own strength. They needed help and it was so thoroughly proved with all these different times and different opportunities, that then God could send Jesus. And through Jesus, a way was opened – a possibility to get eternal redemption for our sins and eternal salvation, that we actually can come to the life of Jesus as well.

    Eunice: So, Jesus, He was up in heaven with God and He was looking at the situation here on earth and then His heart was moved for mankind, right?

    Milenko: Yeah.

    Eunice: And He was willing to leave His place in heaven to come to earth, taking that chance for us …

    Milenko: We see that in Philippians 2 where it talks about Jesus, that He voluntarily gave up that position in heaven to be with God and be like God, and that He took upon Himself the form of a servant and became like one of us, and there He humbled Himself. He was obedient to God’s will as a person on earth, to the death of the cross, and today He’s exalted and sitting beside God. So, this is what it’s all about, you know, that way that Jesus went, how He conquered death and the opportunities that means that we’ve been given.

    Eunice: So, you talked about the way that Jesus went; what was this way that He went, that’s so different from everyone else? You said that He came to earth as a man, right?

    Milenko: It’s actually incredible when we think what Jesus did, what we just spoke about in Philippians, that He voluntarily became a human being, a man on earth. And then we read in Hebrews 4:15 that He was tried, or tempted, in all things as we are, yet without sin. And that’s the incredible thing, that Jesus, He had temptations like us but He always had this attitude of mind, “Not My will, but Your will be done, O God!” And that was the life that He lived.

    Eunice: But, I mean, He lived some 2,000 years ago; how could He have gone through everything that we go through now? What does it mean that He was tried in all things?

    Milenko: The thing is, He wasn’t tried in the way that He had the same circumstances that we have. Like people ask, “He wasn’t a woman, how could He be tempted like a woman?” or “He wasn’t married, so how could He be tempted in those areas?” Or he was …

    Eunice: He wasn’t old, or …

    Milenko: Yeah, and He didn’t live in the time of internet, you know; where were those temptations that He had that were the same as mine? The thing is, that being tried or tempted in all points as we are doesn’t mean that we’ve got the same circumstances, but it means that human nature is the same. For all people, in all cultures, at all times, in any circumstance, temptation is the same and I think we’ll all experience that. And that we can go to Jesus who is our High Priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses because He was also tempted like we are. He doesn’t have the same circumstances but it’s talking about temptation and trials in that way, and He did it without sin; He didn’t give in. And that’s the incredible thing that we can look to as our example, and as it says in Peter, that He left us an example, that we can follow in His footsteps, He who committed no sin. Begin to think about what that really means!

    Eunice: So, Jesus, when He died on the cross, He actually didn’t deserve to die because like you said, He committed no sin.

    Milenko: He was actually the only person on earth who did not deserve to die. Because He hadn’t sinned, right? The wages of sin is death. He was the only one in all of history who did not deserve to die, yet He was crucified.

    Eunice: And when He died, He said these three very momentous words: “It is finished.” And when He died, the veil of the temple was torn in two. That’s actually a symbol of Jesus’ work here on earth, right? And there are two meanings to “It is finished.” First meaning, when He said that, He meant that the debt was paid, correct? That what Satan had been accusing us of all this time because we weren’t able to, mankind wasn’t able to, fulfill the law so Satan could accuse people before God, right? “See you made this law, and nobody can do it.” But Jesus, He broke all that.

    Milenko: And part of it is what we also read; Paul writes that the wages of sin is death. And death, that’s the physical death and it’s also spiritual death, separation from God. So, that’s what all of us deserve because we’re all sinners and Satan had this demand against us, right? He had this demand that he could go to God with …

    Eunice: That we deserve death …

    Milenko: He came and accused us, and he said, “See what they’ve done! They deserve to die. They belong to me.” At that time, he had the power of death – that was his realm – and he could come with this demand to God for us that we deserve to die. And then Jesus, who never sinned, who then died on the cross, He did that …

    Eunice: The just for the unjust.

    Milenko: Exactly, the just for the unjust, and He did that to pay for the sins that I have committed and that you have committed, and that we’ve all committed. Think about that!

    Eunice: That’s the first part of “It is finished,” that Jesus meant, I believe, that the debt is paid. But the second part, and that also has to do with the veil in the temple being torn in two, is that He has paved the way.

    Milenko: Yeah, the veil being torn in two in the temple was very symbolic because it’s the veil that was the separation between God and man. God in the Holiest of All and people on the outside. And it symbolized our flesh, the sin in our flesh, which is the separation between God and people that came in with the fall, hence, Adam and Eve. When Jesus lived this life where He was tempted but didn’t give in to temptation. He overcame sin as it says in Romans 8:3 – then God condemned sin in the flesh, and it’s very clear, it’s talking about Jesus there. He did this in His Son. Condemned sin in the flesh. By not giving in to it, Jesus was going through that flesh and overcoming. And when it was done, at the end, “It is finished,” He said. He had opened the way back to God, back to the Father, which is what we can read in Hebrews 10 and there it says in verse 19, about us: “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus,” and here comes the symbolism, “by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh.” So, He opened this way through His flesh, if you read it like that. Through the veil, that is, through His flesh, He opened the way to God which we can now go on. And that the veil ripped in two. That meant, “It is finished!” He’d overcome all sin.

    Eunice: The work is done.

    Milenko: Yeah, all sin was condemned in His flesh. The way to the Father was open again through Jesus, through a Man, come onto earth as a human being. He had gone that way as the first one in history, and that was now open for us to follow Him. That’s incredible, when you think about what happened there on the cross.

    Eunice: It is.

    Milenko: And of course, when He cried “It is finished,” it wasn’t just that time hanging on the cross He was talking about. It was His whole life, that was the point here. In temptation, He’d been faithful. He never sinned, not once His whole life through, and that was finished and suddenly He had an open entrance straight in to God, which is where He is today, of course. He’s with God in heaven.

    Eunice: Can you imagine what the disciples thought when they went to the grave and Jesus was gone? Do you think they would have realized that then …?

    Milenko: Just think about what they felt when He died.

    Eunice: Hope was lost?

    Milenko: Yeah, He was their shepherd. He was their friend, their mentor, their guide and they had so much trust in Him. Peter also, he’d recognized, “You are the Son of God!” And suddenly He was there hanging on the cross, dead, and they had to bury Him. I mean, I think for a lot of them it was just like, “What’s going on now? What happened?” I don’t know, they must have really been despairing. But then on the third day, the women came to the grave first, and what did they see? They saw this angel and the stone rolled away and the angel said, “He’s not here. The one you’re seeking isn’t here, He has risen!” Imagine what they felt. Then they rushed back to the other disciples, and the other disciples said … You know, they didn’t quite believe it; they had to go and see themselves. And then later, Jesus appeared to them in person. I mean, just think of the hope that they got! Suddenly there was … It wasn’t just hope but it was like eternity opened up for them, there and then. It was true; everything was true!

    And in those days afterwards, Jesus was on earth for another 40 days with them. I think they had a very interesting and edifying time with Jesus, where He talked to them and told them things. And then when they got the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, then it all became living for them personally. They got power and they understood what Jesus actually had been doing here on earth. We’ll talk more about Pentecost when we get there in a few weeks’ time, but just think about that hope, when Jesus was raised from the dead! Death couldn’t hold Him because He hadn’t sinned. The wages of sin is death; He hadn’t sinned! So, He paid for it and then He was finished with it and He’d conquered it and now He gives us life.

    Eunice: The thing is that, what the disciples experienced with Jesus, that’s what we also learn from the Holy Spirit. He’s the Helper, He teaches us, and it’s not like we have any less chance today as the disciples did in that day to learn of Jesus …

    Milenko: On the contrary, we actually have the writings of those same disciples, what they’ve written down, all the revelation they received, and you know, everything they’d heard and learned from Jesus and now it had become living and they began to live it themselves. They wrote these down and we can read it today. We have that in the New Testament in the Bible. It’s fantastic!

    And I think that excitement that they felt, we should actually have that same excitement at Easter, and every day. At Easter, it’s a very good time to remember it: what this means that Jesus was crucified; He died for my sake, so I actually have a chance. I actually have a chance for eternal life. There was no hope before, but now my sins are completely wiped away through His atonement and the forgiveness He gives me and He was raised from the dead – even more! He was raised from the dead, and what does that give me? That gives me hope; it gives me an eternal future, that I can actually partake of that same life that He lived here.

    Eunice: And actually, long before Jesus was crucified on Calvary, He actually said, “If anyone wants to be My disciple then he has to take up his cross daily, deny himself and follow Me,” right? That’s something He meant, not like taking up a physical cross, but in daily life when temptations come up, lusts and desires come up, that I put it to death on an inner cross, put to death those desires to answer back or whatever, and then in that way I’m following Him as His disciple.

    Milenko: That’s exactly what Peter writes about. Peter, who knew Jesus personally, writes about this later, that we have to follow Him in His footsteps, who committed no sin. This is what he’s talking about. We can actually do this now through the power of the Holy Spirit that Jesus has sent us as our Helper, as our guide. We are able to overcome. And the thing is that Jesus died on the cross and through His death, He reconciled those who believe in Him with God. So, that relationship to God was restored because Jesus paid the price. But then, through His life that we can follow, His example, He opened the way back to the Father for those who follow Him. And that’s what His disciples do. When we follow Jesus, we come to where He is. Today, He’s sitting at the right hand of God Himself, and that’s our destiny; we’ll come there as well.

    Eunice: I think this has just been so incredibly hopeful. Jesus can be incredibly great in our eyes and we learn to be thankful for what He has done, but also that we learn to follow Him.

    Milenko: And we have extremely many Bible verses that really speak about this, and we should be excited about it. We should feel that joy, that thankfulness, that excitement, that desire to follow Jesus. Even when things go against us, that’s exactly where it does count you know, when we get tempted and so on, but then our spirit has that excitement which we should hold on to, that now, we are disciples of Jesus and we’re going where He is. That’s the spirit of expectation; we’re going to meet Him again. He rose from the dead so that we can have eternal life together with Him; that’s our future. It’s incredible!

    There’s actually an article about this on the website too with a lot of Bible verses that we think about at Easter. We’ll put a link down in the episode description. There’s an exhortation in the article too, to really take time, read them, think about it, what does this mean for me? It’s a long article, there’s a lot of verses, but it’s still only a small number of verses of what’s actually in the Bible. But really, I’d recommend that, take time to sit there, read it, think about it. You can also listen to an audio version, if you haven’t got time to read it yourself. But, really, for me, I was really edified compiling those verses. It’s a real strength in the daily life when we are in our daily situations.

    Eunice: The article is called “He is risen!” 35 life-changing Easter Bible verses. So, happy Easter everyone and we’ll see you again next week!

    Milenko: Yeah, have a really happy Easter, and looking forward to next episode.