What Do Target and Easter Have in Common?
I heart Target. It soothes me.
And costs me.
I love the wide spaces and somehow it’s always quiet even at busy times. It’s organized and colorful and just right. I especially enjoy a shopping trip around 9:00 pm. The aisles are empty and my buggy isn’t.
I hold my breath as I drive into the checkout lane. Because it’s always painful. I squint in dreadful anticipation as the cashier totals my purchase.
On a couple of occasions, I’ve unloaded all of my wares, pulled my cart up to the cash register and FREAKED OUT. I had taken my debit card out of my purse and left it in the car. Or my purse had been stolen and I forgot that all my cards had been cancelled. For whatever reason I didn’t have a way to pay.
And that’s what Easter’s all about.
Pulling up to check out with a basket full of stuff we can’t pay for.
You tracking? Stick with me and I’ll unpack it…
To do so, we’re going to venture into my favorite verses about Easter which are not even found in the books that record the events of Easter. The English teacher in me spazzes at the backstory. The symbolism. The richness and perfection of God’s plan causes every part of me that is Type A and creative and organized and symmetrical to just gush.
As we break it down, we’re gonna need some common lingo. Let’s all define sin the same way. Sin is anything that creates separation between us and God.
- When Adam and Eve messed it up for all of us (thanks, guys!), sin entered the world and so did death (Romans 5:12). They faced the consequences for their choice and those consequences have been passed on to us (our rotten choices always affect other people too, right?).
- The payment for sin is death (Romans 6:23). So, in God’s economy, I have to die to pay for my lying, my envy, my greed, my disobedience. Geez, that’s heavy.
- In fact, blood has to literally be shed to pay for our bad choices (Hebrews 9:22). Blood is the cash for sin’s payment. It is the coin of forgiveness.
- In the Old Testament, God established a sacrificial system where animal blood was offered to pay for the sin of God’s people (Leviticus 16). This was totally the most masterful foreshadowing ever because it really was just a picture for them of what Jesus would do for humanity when He came. God really is the best storyteller ever.
Leviticus 17:11 – This is because the life of the body is in the blood, and I have given you rules for pouring that blood on the altar to remove your sins so you will belong to the Lord. It is the blood that removes the sins, because it is life (NCV).
- When God’s people were enslaved in Egypt, God chose blood again as the currency of their freedom (Exodus 12). Because the Egyptian pharaoh refused to free God’s people, God struck down the firstborn animals and people of the whole land but instructed each Israelite family to sacrifice a perfect lamb and paint their doorframe with its blood. As the Lord allowed the Egyptians to reap their destruction, He “passed over” every home marked with lamb’s blood. That was the sign that they belonged to Him. So they were saved. And they were free.
- And then – a really long time later – Jesus arrived on the scene. Fully God. Fully man. And He lived a sinless life. He was tempted in every way you and I are (Hebrews 4:15), but He never caved as you and I do.
- It was God’s plan that Jesus’ blood be the final payment for sin (Ephesians 1:7). So He hung on a cross and ALL the sins of the world – past, present, and future – were put on Him. He definitely paid it forward. So we no longer sprinkle animal blood as a sign of how sorry we are for our sins (whew!). Jesus’ blood was the cash for our sin’s payment. His blood is the coin for our forgiveness. So we are saved. And we are free.
- And when we belong to Him, His blood is metaphorically painted on our doorframes – making His blood the currency of our freedom.
1 Corinthians 5:7 – …For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.
- And while ALL of our sins were put on Jesus on the cross, ALL of His goodness and perfection before God was put on us (2 Corinthians 5:21). Crazy, I know.
- So when God looks down on believers, He sees Jesus’ perfection instead of our sin. THANK GOODNESS!
- When God looks down on those who don’t have a relationship with Jesus, He still sees sin that requires payment. Like the cashier before me needing to be paid.
- And the payment for sin is death. Full circle. Spiritual death is forever and ever being separated from God. And that’s why being a good person doesn’t get you to heaven. Because the payment for sin isn’t good deeds. That would be like trying to check out at Target with euros. It’s not the right method of payment. The payment for sin is death. Jesus’.
And that’s why Jesus had to die.
So we wouldn’t have to.
It’s the greatest expression of love in all of history or time. He knows every crappy thing about me and dotes on me anyway. He knows how to love me perfectly; He treats me to the grandest surprises and sweetest indulgences. He is MORE real to me than any relationship I enjoy with a person wearing skin, and nothing would delight me more than to spend every last day I have left telling others about how stinkin’ fabulous He is.
I’ve been angry and I’ve been wayward and I’ve had doubts and questions, and I’ve had tantrums, but He is unchanged by my cattywompus spiritual mood swings. He is real and He is THE best thing going. Happy Easter, friends!
“To some, the image of a pale body glimmering on a dark night whispers of defeat. What good is a God who does not control his Son’s suffering? But another sound can be heard: the shout of a God crying out to human beings, “I LOVE YOU.” Love was compressed for all history in that lonely figure on the cross, who said that he could call down angels at any moment on a rescue mission, but chose not to – because of us. At Calvary, God accepted his own unbreakable terms of justice.” – Philip Yancey[Feature Image: Amanda Tipton]