Why Easter Matters
When I look at world history, it resembles a cosmic chess match between God and Satan, an epic series of moves and countermoves to determine the destiny of humankind.
We see it throughout Scripture: God makes a move, Satan counters with his move. God creates angels. Lucifer rebels against God and gets evicted from heaven, taking a bunch of angels with him. God creates people. Satan tempts them to sin, turning the earth over to his control. But God responds, providing a redemptive covering for His children.
On it goes throughout the accounts of the Old Testament, through prophets and judges, kings and nations. No, this is not a battle between equal forces. Satan is the creature, God the Creator. And God has already announced Satan's defeat (Genesis 3:15). But that doesn't stop the Enemy from trying to destroy God's work and His people. Move, countermove, move.
But then there seems to be a break — 400 years between the Old and New Testaments. It must be God's turn because Matthew opens with the lineage of Jesus Christ. And so God himself enters into human history.
Satan counterattacks, tempting Jesus in the wilderness and trying to sabotage His mission. And then Satan aims to deliver a definitive blow: He must destroy the Son of God. So one Friday, Jesus is crucified.
We know the end of the story, of course. We celebrate it every year, dressing our children in their Sunday best and teaching them how Christ's followers discovered that the tomb was empty. God made the real definitive move. Jesus was alive! It's easy to view the Resurrection as good news for yesteryear, a mere milestone of our faith. But Calvary is power for victorious living today.
Although defeated, Satan still hopes to take us down with him. He prowls about, hoping to devour us and destroy our faith (1 Peter 5:8). That's why we need a more complete understanding of what Christ's death and resurrection have already accomplished for us. Help your kids manifest God's victory today by teaching them four truths about Christ's sacrifice:
Evidence of God's love
How often do you say, "I love you!" to your children? Maybe it was just this morning, part of the farewell you tossed out as someone left the house. However it happens, you recognize that these words are not the only evidence of your love. Kids understand love when proclamation is backed by demonstration — your ability to meet them in the areas where they are struggling or need comfort, your capacity to offer the time they crave with you.
We understand love through action. Thankfully, God isn't just about talk. He lovingly provides for our needs and lends us His wisdom and direction every day. But the real evidence came at Calvary when God laid everything on the line to demonstrate His love. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
Satan wants to draw us away from the reality of God's love. It's his oldest trick, getting humans to doubt the truth that God loves them. Help your kids recognize the reality of God's love as they face a world that can often feel very unloving. The King of the universe loves us, and He demonstrated that love on the Cross.
Proof of forgiveness
Your kids probably understand a few economic principles. When they go shopping for something, they must pay for it. And when they pay, they get a receipt. This receipt validates the purchase. If there is ever a question about the item, the receipt proves that payment was made.
According to Scripture, Christ's resurrection serves as a sort of "receipt" from God to prove that our sins are forgiven. When we confess our sin and ask Jesus to be the Lord of our lives, salvation itself is already secure. But our kids may succumb to periods of doubt. Maybe they'll feel guilty from this or that sin. Does God really forgive me for that?
Issuing a receipt was actually God's idea. Romans 4:25 says, "[He] was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification." The Resurrection is God's proof that Christ's sacrifice was sufficient payment for our sins.
This side of heaven, we will always deal with the consequences of sin. But help your kids recognize, every day, that the eternal bill has been paid.
Restoration of relationship
In our family, we'll often conclude prayers with "In Jesus' name." Do you pray the same way with your kids? It's easy for it to become a reflex, a little tagline at the end of prayer. But the expression is a good opportunity to teach kids that Christ's death and resurrection grants us a relationship with God.
Scripture says that Jesus stands before the Father as our advocate (1 John 2:1). Why do we need this representation? Because sin has broken our fellowship with God. And Satan is constantly bringing these transgressions before God, knowing His holiness is incompatible with our sin (Revelation 12:10). Satan wants God to reject us. Help your kids imagine a courtroom, with Satan pacing before God, laying out sins as evidence against us. Now imagine Jesus stepping forward: "Father, I object. I have already paid for these transgressions at the Cross. The defendant is one of those I have redeemed and restored."
When your family prays "in Jesus' name," remember that this isn't just a cute catchphrase. You are saying, "God, I come to You and lay these requests before You. But since I'm not qualified, I come under the righteousness of Your Son."
Victory for the future
The only power Satan has over us is what we give him. He knows he is a defeated enemy, crushed at the Cross and the empty tomb of Christ. Help your kids understand that our enemy needs our cooperation to sustain any attack.
I once heard a story about a father and son back in the pioneer days who were trying to outrun a fast-moving prairie fire. The fire was about to consume their wagon when the father turned the horse around and went to a spot that had already been burned. He told his son to jump out of their wagon and stay put.
His son said, "But the fire is all around us!"
The father explained: "This spot has already been burned. The fire can't get us here."
It's a good picture to help kids understand the victory over sin that Jesus gives us. He has already been "burned" at the Cross so that we don't have to be.
There will always be temptations to sin. But Jesus has endured it all — temptation without failure, punishment without cause. The Devil's fire can't harm us as long as we are standing firm in Jesus.
This Easter, help your kids remain close to Jesus, to His Word and His teachings. Satan has no countermove to stop what God has already done.
Dr. Tony Evans is the president of The Urban Alternative, an organization that seeks to bring about spiritual renewal in urban America.
This article appeared in the April/May 2015 issue of Thriving Family magazine and was titled "Victory!" Copyright © 2015 by Dr. Tony Evans. Used by permission. ThrivingFamily.com.