"The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord." Luke 4: 18-19 (NKJV)
Christianity differs from most religions by our belief in a Savior, Jesus, who was God incarnate. He lived to love all, died to save all, and rose again to life to bring all to God. That is the gospel, the good news. But why is it called the good news? Why did God, himself, have to come to earth in the form of a servant, a man, not counting himself equal with God, and obeying God to the point of death on a cross (Phil 2:6-8)? The answer lies in the Old Testament, the Jewish religion, out of which Christianity came.
It begins with the creation story recorded in Genesis 2-3. God creates the world, including man, in six days. When it is finished, he places the man into a garden with the woman and commands them not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Satan, the serpent, tricks the woman, who convinces the man to eat the forbidden fruit, which opens their eyes of both good and evil. Since they disobeyed God, they are cursed and sent out of the garden. This is the fall of man. The consequence of Adam and Eve's disobedience has led to a forever breach in our relationship with God. The only way we can begin to approach God would be to clean ourselves and atone for our sins. This was done in the Old Testament, where God gave Moses His law, which was to be followed by all the Israelites. The law was extensive, it consisted of festivals to be held, punishments when offenses occurred, what the offenses were, what sacrifices were needed to be right with God, how to treat other Israelites and foreigners, etc.
The people of the time didn't and couldn't have a relationship with God because of their sin. They personally couldn't come to God on their own like we can today as Christians because of Jesus. The only way they could know God was through the leader God appointed and the priests or prophets who spread God's word. But this wasn't good enough for God. God loves us, he wants a relationship with us, and he had it with Adam and Eve until they sinned against Him. He wanted to be united with His people again, but the only way to do that was to atone for all the sins of the world. He knew we would never be able to live perfect lives, or atone for all our sins. He knew the only person who could do that was Himself. And, that is exactly what He did.
He sent his Son, Jesus, to earth in the form of a man. Jesus experienced everything we could ever go through in our life and so much more. He cried, played, laughed, learned, taught, traveled, was tempted, felt hungry, thirsty, and exhausted, stressed, burdened, struggled, suffered with loss and disappointment, was beaten and broken, and then he died a horrible death. Unlike us, though, Jesus never fell to the sin he faced. He lived a perfect life and fulfilled all of God's laws. He was obedient His entire life to the Father's will and that included His death.
The gospel is called the good news because it freed us from the burden of having to atone for our sins, and having to live a perfect life that we are incapable of doing, so that we could have a relationship with God and know Him personally. Jesus' death on a cross, His broken body laid out for us, His blood spilled to cover our iniquities and transgressions against Him and each other, was done so that, we can approach God and be made perfect and blameless in His eyes.
Good Friday is a time or remembrance and mourning for what Jesus did for us. He was betrayed, beaten, and crucified on a cross. He was accused of everything even though he did nothing, and he was mocked for saying the truth about Himself. The death of the Savior, the Light of the World, the Sacrificial Lamb took on all the sins of the world, past, present, and future, and was forsaken by God, His Father. Jesus breathed, "It is finished," before dying on the cross because it was finished, the sins of the world died with Him. His death covers every last one of our sins from our past, present, and future.
But, that isn't the end of the story. Three days later, He rose from the dead. He conquered death, won the battle for our souls, and saved us all. On Easter, we rejoice because we no longer need to live in the sin we struggle with, or in the past we can't forget. We can live in the hope of Jesus Christ, His love for us, and the truth that He conquered all sin and the consequence of it, death. Through His death, we died to our sin, but through His resurrection, we are born new in Him.
Easter is my favorite holiday because of what Jesus did for me. I pray that God moves in your heart and brings you to Him. He loves you, He proved that by sending His only Son for you to die on the cross carrying the weight of all of your sins. I pray that if you do not believe, that you would pray to accept Him as your Lord and Savior. Invite Him into your life and be born again in the likeness of Christ. If you do believe, I pray that you cast your burdens onto Him and rejoice in the One who saved you and loves you. He is Risen!