I felt the desire to write a little bit about why Easter is important to me.
First off, I’m a Christian, so it should be a no brainer why its important to me. You know, Christmas and Easter, the two “Christian” holidays where people show up for a church service or mass so they can get OK with God by saying they went to church.
Lots of religious beliefs and theologies have a significant figure that started their movement. LDS has Joseph Smith, Islam has Muhammad, Buddhism has Budha, atheists and agnostics have themselves, and most importantly Christians have Jesus or Yeshua as He was probably known by those who were witnessed to His life.
Here is what Easter is about to Christians. There was this guy named Jesus. He lived mostly in the Galilee region of Israel over 2000 years ago. Why was He important? Well, He claimed to be (and I believe He is) the son of God. The God of Abraham and the Jews as He was know by at the time. There were lots of gods (little g) worshiped and recognized by people in the land those days. Their gods all had names and images.
There was no image of God, and his name, YHVH, was considered very holy by those who worshiped him. This God is the one who spoke the Universe into existence. You want to understand about power, you have to realize that He only had to speak to make the Universe created as we know it. Some time after man was created, God gave man one simple rule, and then man broke that rule. Not only did he break it, but he lied about it and then tried to say it wasn’t his fault. What a pitiful beginning for man. God’s perfectness and holiness make it so that He can not be around sin. He hates it. So God’s pinnacle of His creation, whom He gave free will, was now awash in sin. The relationship that He had with man was now messed up.
Our pastor gave a great illustration today about sin and relationships. Imagine there is a married couple. Being married is about being in a relationship, sharing, loving, and making a life with your spouse. The relationship God desires to have with man is similar. Imagine that one of the partners of this marriage had a sexual relationship with someone who was not their spouse. The one who was cheated on would be very angry, and would probably not want to be around the one who cheated. There is no act that the cheater could ever possibly do to remove the pain and memory of what was done to the spouse by cheating. It will always be there. This is very similar to how it is with God and man. When we sin, it hurts God in a way that a spouse would be hurt from a cheating partner. There is nothing man can do to heal this divide that sin has caused between man and God. Restoration can only come from the one who was hurt. The only chance the cheater has is that there is faith that the one who was cheated on will offer forgiveness. Without that, the relationship can not continue.
The only thing that could be done to make up for the sins of man was the blood of the innocent. During those times, Jews sacrificed animals, who took the punishment for Jews not being loyal to God with sin.
So back to why this Jesus guy was so important. I’m not going to go into all of the prophecies that the Jews had been taught about the one that God would send to heal this relationship between His people and God. Jesus met those prophecies. More importantly, He lived a sinless life while on Earth. He spent the last three years of his life on Earth in ministry telling Jews and non Jews about repenting from sin, performing miracles, teaching about love, peace, and about God’s coming Kingdom.
During the Passover celebration one night, he was seized by the high Jewish priests and accused of being a blasphemer. This charge could only hold true if he was not the Son of God that he claimed to be. He was sentenced to death as an innocent man on what we remember now as Good Friday. He died a horribly painful death on a cross. After the Roman guards proved that he was dead by pushing a spear through his side, his body was given to Joseph of Arimathea. He owned a stone burial area that he had planned to use for himself. He decided to let Jesus borrow his burial site. On that Friday as the sun was going down, He was lowered from the cross and placed in the tomb (sepulchre) where a large stone was used to cover the entrance. Roman guards were also placed at the entrance to this tomb to ensure that no one would do anything to the body of Jesus as his death was very controversial.
Here’s the best part. Saturday, nothing. Sunday, the stone was rolled away and Jesus arose from the grave. Pretty amazing right? Many say unbelievable. I can’t prove it happened, you can’t prove it didn’t happen, but I have faith that it happened. There is one thing that Christianity has over all other beliefs. Death has no grip on Christians, which means that life on Earth also has no grip on Christians. For us, life is just a short time of waiting to be with God for eternity.
I don’t know if I emphasized it enough, but Jesus was dead. D-E-D dead. He defeated death by bringing himself back to life. I can not do enough to tell you how important that is, and how it is not found with anyone else’s beliefs. There is no place you can go to visit where Jesus is buried, because he is alive. People have an idea of where he may have been buried for those few days. Guess what, it doesn’t matter because it is an empty tomb.
This is just what is so great about getting forgiveness from God. Its a gift. It is offered to us freely, and we don’t deserve it. That is what is called grace (unwarranted favor). There is nothing we can do to earn forgiveness. Any religion that has you do lots of works or has requirements that have to be met to find favor with the one they worship is nothing but pride. Look at me and what I have done to find favor. And better yet, there is only one sin that can not be forgiven by God, and that is not accepting his free gift.
Lots of people think that being a Christian is about following a bunch of rules that God made to kill your fun. No, that isn’t it. Read what I said in the previous paragraph. Its not about what you do. The other popular idea is that if someone was a good person, did enough good things, there’s this heavenly scale God will use to decide if you are going to Heaven or hell. So how much is enough? Both ideas are completely untrue. If anyone tries to tell you otherwise, they are lying. There is nothing you do that earns you favor with God. You can accept what He wants to give you, and that’s it. The Bible has plenty of scripture to tell you about this. If you want to bother looking into it, its there for you to find.
Choosing to sin is choosing to separate yourself from God. Sin causes death. Since God gave us all free will, we all have the option of pushing God away. He’ll even let us spend eternity away from Him if that is what we want. That is hell. Complete separation from God for eternity. You think there is evil on Earth now, you have no idea what it will be like when God completely removes himself from your life. If that is what you want, you can foolishly choose that.
If you want a pretty good book to read about someone trying to proving that Jesus isn’t who He says He is, I’d recommend The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. The guy was a unbelieving journalist who set to to prove that Jesus was a lie. What he found was different.
Of course if you want to know more about Jesus, just read the Bible.
I believe that Easter is the most significant of the holidays that Christians observe. Some would argue its Christmas because without Jesus being born, he couldn’t have been crucified and raised from the dead. Well, I believe that without Jesus rising from the dead, there would be no need to celebrate the birth of a baby in a lowly little town in Israel.