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!”
While we are on this topic, it is interesting to note that the Russian word for “Sunday” means “resurrection.” Even in difficult times, like under Stalin (a former leader of Russia), they did not stop with this tradition, so that people in Russia every Sunday are reminded that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, just through their language.
We know that many people just see Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter as beautiful traditions, without any deeper or personal meaning. But, according to the Bible, these things have really taken place, they are historical facts: 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 was brought up as a Christian, and I knew a lot about what was written in the Bible: Jesus’ death on the cross, that He had risen from the dead, the forgiveness of sins. Even though I was brought up as a Christian, it was only many years later that I understood deep in 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 made me feel hopeless. Everything that had been heavy on my conscience and made me feel guilty, all my mistakes, all the wrongs I had done were cleansed away and paid for on my behalf, 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 speak with someone I had confidence in, about everything that was on my heart, and could confess my sins. In Psalm 32:1-2 (CEB) are these uplifting words: “The one whose wrongdoing is forgiven, whose sin is covered over, is truly happy! The one the LORD doesn't consider guilty— in whose spirit there is no dishonesty— that one is truly happy!”
But after a short while I would make the same mistakes and do the same wrong things again, and needed forgiveness again. But then, one day, I came into contact with people who told me about a overcoming life, that in the power of God it was possible to completely overcome sins like anger, jealousy, 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 saw it in others, I got a real 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.
An overcoming 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 (GNT): “Our High Priest is not one who cannot feel sympathy for our weaknesses. On the contrary, we have a High Priest who was tempted in every way that we are, but did not sin.”
When He then died on the cross, He provided eternal salvation for all those who want it. In 1 Peter 2:24 (NCV) we can read: “Christ carried our sins in his body on the cross so we would stop living for sin and start living for what is right. And you are healed because of his wounds.”
He carried our sins on the cross so that we might stop living for sin and start living for what is right, and not so we can keep doing the same sins and mistakes for the rest of our life! No, He came as a saviour, to save us from having to sin over and over again! 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 because He is risen, I can now knowingly say “No!” when I am tempted to sin. Then I can wait patiently when I am tempted to impatience, for example, or be silent when I am tempted to fight back etc. In that way I also can live an overcoming life and follow in His footsteps. “For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone.” 1 Peter 2:21-22 (NLT).
I can and must say it: Christ is risen indeed! He really died for my sins, and He gives true and great power to live a new life. If I follow faithfully in His footsteps (1 Peter 2:21), I myself will one day be raised up to an eternal life!