The Easter Holiday can be thought of as a three-day Holiday; The day Christ died, the day he rested and the day he rose from the dead. These days are typically thought of as being Friday, Saturday and Sunday respectively. This was the time when our Savior gave us the ultimate gift, his life in place of ours.
Just a few words to explain what that means to Christians. All men are physical and subject to the temptations of sin. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) Without help of some kind we can never pull ourselves out of that sin. Jesus recognized this as did his Father, God. In plan English Jesus bartered with his Father and asked to be sacrificed in our place. He was willing to give his life that we could have a chance at everlasting salvation. (John 3:16)
He did that, he died for us. He allowed himself to be crucified on the cross for our sins. Crucifixion has been known for years to be one of the cruelest forms of capital punishment ever devised by man, yet Jesus willingly stepped into that position. He was crucified on a Friday afternoon, died that evening, was taken down and quickly prepared for burial, placed in a “borrowed” tomb and the tomb sealed forever.
Everybody involved rested the next day, Saturday, and contemplated the situation and surrounding circumstances. The next day, Sunday, Mary Magdalene and another Mary were going to the tomb to finish the burial preparations when they came upon Jesus resurrected.
The Story is amazing, beautiful and complicated. Several different accounts exist and varying beliefs are scattered through every story. One universal belief is that Christ was crucified and he did rise from the dead. Easter then becomes a celebration of his resurrection. “Easter, the preeminent feast that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus, is clearly the earliest Christian festival.” (Foundations of Christian Worship by Susan J. White 2006 ISBN 0664229247 page 55)
Some of my favorite verses of the Bible that remind us of what Easter really stands for include;
“…and they will condemn Him to death, and will deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and scourge and crucify Him, and on the third day He will be raised up.”
– Matthew 20:18-19
Here, Jesus admits he will be crucified but he eases our pain with the promise that he will live again.
“For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”
– John 10:17-18
At this point Jesus is trying to give reassurance that he has not been captured but he has willingly given himself over to die for us. He needs to make it clear that this is his idea.
And he said to them, “Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him.”
– Mark 16:6
Christ has arisen. It is the morning of the first Easter. For such an event he has to assure on lookers that it is indeed him; he did as he had promised.
And this is the promise, which He Himself made to us: eternal life.
– 1 John 2:25
Simply put, John speaks of the promise that Jesus gave us and the impact that promise has on our future.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.”
– John 3:16-17
Everyone’s favorite. It tells the entire story so simply and so thoughtfully. This is my Easter. This is why I am in God’s hand. I owe it all to Jesus.
Easter is many things to many people but the one thing it has always been is the commemoration of the single most important event in the history of all Christianity; the resurrection of our savior. Bunnies, baskets and brightly colored eggs aside, we were all given the opportunity of a lifetime that wonderful Sunday morning when our Lord and Savior walked amongst his people once more.