What first comes to your mind when you hear the word “Easter”? When I was a kid I thought Easter meant pastel clothes, bunnies, plastic eggs and chocolate, or melted chocolate if you grew up in Houston.
As a kid I was always confused about the connection between bunnies and eggs. Bunnies don’t lay eggs. And why is the big bunny hiding the eggs?
The truth is that Easter is Easter because 2,000 years ago Jesus rose from the grave.
I became a Christian as a young adult. During my first year as a Christian, I learned the significance of both Christmas and Easter for my new faith and life in Jesus. However, everyone I knew, both Christians and non-Christians, was so much more excited about Christmas. I often wondered why Easter did not get the same excitement and buildup as Christmas each year?
Easter ought to be a big deal for Christians because it highlights both Jesus’ death and His resurrection, and without His death and resurrection there is no Christianity.
Think for a moment about the good news of Easter and all that Easter proves to be true.
First, Easter proves that there is a God and that the God of the Bible is the one true God. Second, Easter proves that Jesus really is the divine Son of God. Jesus claimed to be God’s Son and that the one true God of the Bible would raise Him from the dead three days after the Roman authorities executed Him. The Easter resurrection was God’s way of substantiating Jesus’ claims. Third, Easter proves that all who have faith in Jesus are justified before God. The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 4:25 that Jesus “was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” Jesus’ death is the atoning sacrifice that fully purchases salvation for all who place their faith and trust in Him alone as Savior. Fourth, Easter proves that followers of Jesus are no longer in bondage and slavery to their sins. In Romans 6:4 Paul wrote, “We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” Jesus’ resurrection on the first Easter morning proves that through faith in Jesus we have His help and power to resist temptation to sin and to walk in newness of life. Finally, Easter proves that all true followers of Jesus have a sure and certain eternity with God in the new heaven and the new earth. Remember what Jesus said in John 14:2 – 3, “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also.” God’s raising Jesus from the dead on the first Easter is confirmation of all of this.
Again, why do so many Americans, including many Christians, think so little of Easter compared to other seasons of the year?
I think Eugene Peterson is on to something in his book Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places when he writes:
“The do-it-yourself, self-help culture of North America has so thoroughly permeated our imaginations that we don’t give much sustained attention to the biggest thing of all, resurrection. And the reason we don’t give much attention to it is because the resurrection is not something we can use or manipulate or control or improve on. It is interesting that the world has had very little success in commercializing Easter, turning it into a commodity, the way it has Christmas. If we can’t, as we say, ‘’get a handle on it’ and use it, we soon lose interest. But resurrection is not available for our use; it is exclusively God’s operation.”
The ridiculously good news of Easter is a challenge to most Americans because it is all about what God has done to save sinners. And God’s salvation is one of grace. Grace is completely and utterly undeserved and unearned by us. This is hard for us to understand. If we are honest, I think we want to feel that we have contributed to, and at least partially earned, everything we have, including our relationship with God.
However, the God of the Bible offers salvation that is by grace alone. He offers salvation that is done for us. We do not live lives of moral perfection. Jesus does it for us. We do not die the death that our sins deserve. Jesus does it for us. In Ephesians 2 Paul describes our condition apart from a relationship with God as being “dead in [our] transgressions.” We do not raise ourselves from this spiritual grave. God raises us from the dead to new life in Christ because of what Jesus has done for us.
This is why Easter is such a big deal!