Obama Urges Americans: 'Think About Jesus' Suffering on the Cross, Think About Gift of Salvation'

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden looks toward President Barack Obama during the Easter Prayer Breakfast at the White House in Washington March 30, 2016.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden looks toward President Barack Obama during the Easter Prayer Breakfast at the White House in Washington March 30, 2016. | (Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

President Barack Obama called for Americans to focus on the suffering Jesus Christ went through on the cross in his last Easter Prayer Breakfast speech, explaining that through Christ, people have been given the gift of salvation, and don't have to be afraid.

Obama also urged Americans to reject the attempts of terrorists to create fear and division among people.

"We drown out darkness with light, and we heal hatred with love, and we hold on to hope. And we think about all that Jesus suffered and sacrificed on our behalf — scorned, abandoned shunned, nail-scarred hands bearing the injustice of his death and carrying the sins of the world," the president said Wednesday.

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"And it's difficult to fathom the full meaning of that act. Scripture tells us, 'For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.' Because of God's love, we can proclaim 'Christ is risen!' Because of God's love, we have been given this gift of salvation. Because of Him, our hope is not misplaced, and we don't have to be afraid," he added.

Obama reflected on the terror attacks across the world in the past few weeks, notably the blasts in Brussels and the Easter Sunday suicide attack in Lahore, where Christians were targeted and most of the 72 victims were women or children.

Much like Vice President Joe Biden said earlier, however, Obama insisted that such acts of terror should not make Americans turn away from those that need help.

"They can tempt us to cast out the stranger, strike out against those who don't look like us, or pray exactly as we do. And they can lead us to turn our backs on those who are most in need of help and refuge. That's the intent of the terrorists, is to weaken our faith, to weaken our best impulses, our better angels," he said.

The president, who in past Easter Prayer Breakfasts has also spoken out against what he called "less-than-loving expressions" by other Christians, noted that one image that struck him was the story of Pope Francis washing the feet of refugees on Holy Thursday last week — which included women, Muslims, and a Hindu.

"What a powerful reminder of our obligations if, in fact, we're not afraid, and if, in fact, we hope, and if, in fact, we believe. That is something that we have to give," Obama said.

"To do justice, to love kindness — that's what all of you collectively are involved in in your own ways each and every day. Feeding the hungry. Healing the sick. Teaching our children. Housing the homeless. Welcoming immigrants and refugees," he added.

"And in that way, you are teaching all of us what it means when it comes to true discipleship. It's not just words. It's not just getting dressed and looking good on Sunday. But it's service, particularly for the least of these."

Biden earlier also reflected on his religious upbringing, arguing that people "practice the same basic faith but different faiths."

"I happen to be a practicing Catholic, and I grew up learning from the nuns and the priests who taught me what we used to call Catholic social doctrine. But it's not fundamentally different than a doctrine of any of the great confessional faiths," he explained.

"It's what you do to the least among us that you do unto me. It's we have an obligation to one another. It's we cannot serve ourselves at the expense of others, and that we have a responsibility to future generations."

Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, was at the event. He tweeted: "President @BarackObama and I have had many disagreements, but he's always treated me with kindness and civility. Today no exception."

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