2017 years ago, the Jewish group known as the Pharisees lived in Judea under Roman rule. The Romans had a very progressive "anything goes" culture while the Pharisees lived under the extremely high standards of Jewish law. Many of the Pharisees prided themselves in their strict avoidance of obvious, outward sin. As you can imagine, the Romans did not appreciate being accused of living a sinful lifestyle, which led to constant turmoil between the two groups as they tried to determine whose way was right.
When Christ came to earth he had a strikingly different message than both. He said in John 14:6:
"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me."
Since that message didn't fit with the Romans or the Pharisees, they came together and conspired to kill him.
There is a striking difference between religion and the good news of the Gospel. Religion is typically accompanied with a strict code of conduct that is nearly impossible to follow. As sinners, many struggle to sign up for something where they know they will fail. But the good news of the gospel is that:
John 3:16: "God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
The good news of the Gospel is that Christ overcame sin when he died on the cross. Christ is the way to the Father, not our adherence to a strict code of conduct or good deeds. The good news of the Gospel is that the way to the Father and eternal salvation does not have to be earned, but rather accepted as a gift through faith in Jesus. As a world class sinner, I am thankful for that awesome gift.
My prayer is that you will celebrate the good news of the Gospel and accept the truly awesome gift. Happy Easter to you and yours!