Years ago my husband and I took a vacation to Florida. One morning as we were on our way to breakfast we got stopped by this guy who offered us a free breakfast and a gift card for listening to a short presentation. Being still rather naive, we agreed, only to find out it was a sales pitch for a time share. And despite what the first guy had said, this was certainly not a “short” presentation. We were in no position whatsoever to be investing in a time share at that point in our lives, but the salesman kept reiterating one point throughout his speech. He said it so often we still use it as an inside joke. This was his trump card; his best argument. With a time share, he pointed out, you get a deed. When you stay in a hotel, “All you get is a receipt.”
All you get is a receipt. So what’s wrong with that? I get a receipt every time I go to the store. It’s proof that I actually paid for the things I am taking out of the store. If I buy a cartload of stuff and still set off the alarm at the doors of Wal-mart, I show my receipt to the worker there to prove I’m not stealing anything. I paid for that stuff. It’s mine.
In a very real sense, Easter is the receipt we have to show for Jesus’ payment on our behalf. You might recall yesterday’s post about the Greek word tetelestai, which means “paid in full.” Jesus’ redeeming work was completely finished on that cross. So why was Easter even needed? Because Easter is the proof that the Father accepted the payment of the Son on the cross. It’s His guarantee that Jesus’ sacrifice was indeed enough.
Let’s look at the Old Testament sacrificial system to grasp this a bit better. Jesus’ sacrifice took the place of that entire complex system, so it’s worth taking a deeper look. Even if you aren’t a Leviticus expert, you know that the Old Testament people of Israel had a lot of different types of sacrifices and offerings for different occasions and purposes. It was a lot to keep straight. But the Day of Atonement was a high holy day in their worship year. Once a year, atonement was made for “all the sins of the Israelites.” Only on this one day of the year could the high priest enter the Most Holy Place. He went in to sprinkle the blood of the sacrifices on the ark of the covenant. This was serious business, because anyone who offered sacrifices in an unworthy or unauthorized way would be put to death. The high priest went into the presence of God Almighty in the Most Holy Place, where sin cannot stand. They had to follow God’s command exactly if they hoped to live. So seriously did the Israelites take this responsibility that they tied a rope around the waist of the high priest when he entered the Most Holy Place. If he were to die while inside, they could pull him out so no one else had to go in and risk death themselves. So every year when the high priest emerged from the Most Holy Place alive, that was their “receipt,” so to speak. That was proof that God had accepted the sacrifices and forgiven their sins. Their sins had been paid for, and the high priest walking out alive was their receipt.
Hebrews 9:11-12 spells out for us the connection to Jesus, the ultimate High Priest who offered not a bull or goat for a sin offering, but sacrificed Himself for us. “When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made… He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but He entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.” As High Priest, Jesus made atonement for the sins of all the people of the world. Like the Old Testament high priests, Jesus entered the very presence of God when He made atonement. He offered the ultimate sacrifice—Himself. And God accepted that sacrifice, because three days later Jesus emerged alive. As the Old Testament believers rejoiced when their high priest came out of the Most Holy Place alive, so we now rejoice that God accepted the sacrifice of Jesus, our High Priest. Easter is our receipt that Jesus’ sacrifice was accepted. Our debt to sin has been paid in full by Jesus. We are His. The empty tomb is our proof.
With Easter, all you get is a receipt. And that’s all we ever need.