Like many of you, I grew up celebrating Easter with bunnies and hidden baskets, egg hunts and LOTS of chocolate. We rarely went to church on Easter and, if we did, it was mostly (in my young mind’s opinion) to appease my grandmother. Yet as I grew older, in my teen years and my early adulthood, I began to explore other meanings and traditions surrounding various holidays. I was in youth group, which informed me in my Christian beliefs, but I also had an opportunity to meet new people from different backgrounds in my college and post-college years, which let me see into others’ perspectives on holidays. Easter is one of those holidays whose focus is often misdirected with sweets and cute animals, but the real meaning behind Easter is much more than chocolate eggs and worth our celebrating.
The Basics Behind the Holiday
Our last post covered the season of Lent, which leads up to Holy Week and the Easter Holiday. You can find more about how we prepare for Easter there to give you some context. But, in a few words, Easter is the Christian holiday that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Three days after the Romans crucified Jesus, He rose from the dead. Simple, right?
Yet, the resurrection is only part of the reason we celebrate. The meaning behind this incredible sacrifice is what makes this holiday so significant. In Jesus’ ministry, He preached that all who believed in Him and followed God would be redeemed from sin. Why? Because Jesus was born to be a sacrifice for us. He was put on the earth, the Son of God, to take all of our sins onto Himself and carry them with Him in death. And through His death and subsequent resurrection, we have been given new life as followers of Jesus. If Jesus had not risen from the dead, He would have been considered just another prophet; however, His resurrection proved undeniably that He was really the Son of God and had overcome death and sin once and for all.
The Accounts of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection
Let’s review what we find in Scripture: After multiple unlawful trials, Jesus was sentenced to death by crucifixion by Pontius Pilate, the Roman prefect in the province of Judea from 26 to 36 A.D. After enduring torture and being hung on the cross, Jesus died in the ninth hour of the day. His death is marked by Good Friday (the Friday before Easter). After His death, His followers took His body down from the cross and laid it in a tomb. You can ready the accounts of this day in Matthew 27:1-62; Mark 15:1-47; Luke 22:63-23:56; and John 18:28-19:37.
On Saturday, Jesus’ tomb was guarded by Roman soldiers and His followers were deeply affected. You can read about the events of Saturday in Matthew 27:62-66; Mark 16:1; Luke 23:56; and John 19:40. While Jesus’ physical body was in the tomb, He was paying the ultimate penalty for sin by offering a perfect, spotless sacrifice, thus securing our eternal salvation. As we read in 1 Peter 1:18-19, “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”
On Resurrection Day, or Easter Sunday, several women who followed Jesus went to His tomb only to discover that the tomb was empty. Jesus made at least five appearances that day to several of His disciples and followers. These eyewitness accounts provide undeniable evidence that Jesus was alive, that he had indeed conquered death and was resurrected. Sunday’s events can be found in Matthew 28:1-13; Mark 16:1-14; Luke 24:1-49; and John 20:1-23.
In varying ways, all four of the gospels in the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) confirm that those who believe in Jesus’ death and resurrection are given the gift of eternal life, meaning that those of faith will be welcomed into the Kingdom of Heaven upon their earthly death.
Wow! Let’s Celebrate!
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).
We have a variety of resources on our Easter page that can help you prepare for and celebrate Easter this year. We hope you will join us in commemorating this most important event in history. We offer a daily prayer guide with weekly activities, playlists, and have Lenten and Easter services where you can join us to worship and praise as a church family. As always, RightNow Media offers great resources for you, as well, and we’d love to hear your questions and comments! We hope you can join us as we send up a joyful hallelujah this Easter.