If you’re not a regular church-goer, or just not an especially religious person, you might wonder what all the fuss is surrounding Easter. And even if you do come to church regularly you might sometimes wonder the same thing, even though you know a little more Bible. It’s a good question.
Once a year?
A once a year Easter celebration is not a Scripture-demanded holy day, although it is the one Christian celebration that we have a solid month and date for—it all happened at Passover. Instead of an annual event, what the Bible tells us is that we are celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus every first day of the week.
“What’s in a name?”
About the name “Easter”—well, there’s about a hundred theories about the origin of the name. Some claim the name has a pagan root while others claim that it has its origin in a German term (the old Teutonic form of auferstehn, Auferstehung, i. e. resurrection). But whatever the origin (and I favor the second), the meaning in modern English has nothing to do with paganism and everything to do with the resurrection of Jesus.
About the believability of the event of Jesus’ resurrection: it is one of the best documented, best witnessed event in history. Despite 1) an fear of Jewish religious leaders that Jesus disciples might try to steal the body, 2) a Roman seal being placed on the stone covering the tomb, 3) and a well-armed Roman cohort of guards being placed at the tomb; the tomb remains empty and Jesus’ body was never produced by His enemies. He was seen, heard, and touched by well over 500 witnesses over the course of 40 days before His ascension, most of whom were skeptics at first. And one witness, Saul of Tarsus, at first hostile, completely changed his life from one of aggressive disbelief to one of aggressive promotion of the faith. And one more thing, despite persecution, imprisonment, torture, and death not one of them ever recanted their testimony—really, who would die for a lie?
Big deal—or no big deal?
Lastly, what is its importance? Now we’re really getting to the good stuff; let me quote from the Bible itself:
1 Corinthians 15:3, 4 “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” First, note that this event is not only important, it is of first importance. There are some things that are important, and then there are things that are important enough that they demand that you drop all else and pay attention. The resurrection is one of those kinds of important things.
1 Corinthians 15:16, 17 “For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.” The resurrection is important because it is the proof that we are forgiven, that Jesus’ death on the cross was more than just another example of human cruelty. Had Jesus not risen from the dead, then His death on the cross could legitimately be questioned as being effective for salvation. The resurrection says that Jesus was indeed God and that He indeed died for payment of the debt of sin that we have amassed.
1 Corinthians 15:20-22 “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.” Third, Jesus’ resurrection proves that this life is not all there is. Death is not a “dead end” (pun fully intended). There is an afterlife in which we will one day have to “face the music” of our deeds in this life. The resurrection proves that there is a Heaven to gain and a Hell to avoid.
1 Corinthians 15:54-58 “But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. “O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” The resurrection also assures us that all the difficulty that we put up with as Christians, all the trouble that we endure, all the temptation that we reject, all the sinful pleasures we abstain from, all good deeds, all the sharing of the Gospel, all the compassion, all the mercy shown, all the time spent in service to others and the Lord, all the toil in the Lord is meaningful, purposeful, and substantial—the opposite of vain and empty. It does count for something; and it counts big!
While Easter isn’t a required holy day (it is only traditional), it still brings to our minds, and the minds of the whole world, that something really BIG happened over 2000 years ago; that changed the world then and still changes the world today.
Has it changed you yet?