I Googled the word “Easter” on my computer, and what came up was page after page of pictures of eggs and bunnies; more and more colorful eggs and bunnies. Rabbits and Technicolor eggs are fine. We hunt Easter eggs with our grandchildren. We also always have ham for Easter dinner. But Easter is about much more than eggs, bunnies and ham.
Christians world-wide celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the Sunday following Palm Sunday, designated, “Easter.” It was during this week of the Jewish Passover 2,000 years ago that Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem.
When the authorities were making accusations against Jesus, neither the High Priest nor the Sanhedrin could not enter the Roman court. John wrote that “they themselves did not enter into the Praetorium so that they would not be defiled, but might eat the Passover” (John 18:28). John recorded too that Jesus was crucified on “the day of preparation for the Passover” (John 19:14). This was the reason His accusers wanted His body off the cross, into a tomb before sunset: “because it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day)” (John 19:31). Passover was considered a high Sabbath, and dead bodies on crosses would desecrate that holy day.
Palm Sunday was important, the crucifixion was vital, but, thank God, the resurrection was essential! Jesus, who was crucified and buried, was raised on the Sunday following the Passover.
The famous Italian Renaissance sculptor, Michelangelo, once turned to fellow artists and said with frustration, “Why do you keep filling gallery after gallery with endless pictures on the one theme of Christ in weakness, Christ on the cross, and most of all, Christ hanging dead? Why do you concentrate on that passing episode as if it were the last word, as if the curtain dropped down there on disaster and defeat? That dreadful scene lasted only a few hours. But to the unending eternity Christ is alive; Christ rules and reigns and triumphs!”
“He is not here, but is risen” (Luke 24:6), was spoken by angels standing at the empty tomb where Christ’s body had lain. Think of that statement: “Not here…but risen!” They penetrate our thinking and alter our eternity: “He is…Not here…but risen!”
So, what makes the Resurrection of Christ so important?
1. His resurrection means believers in Christ will have life after death.
Because of Christ’s victory over death, every believer has the same promise of life after death. Paul wrote, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you” (Rom. 8:11). Paul told the Corinthians: “He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you” (2 Corinthians 4:14). Believers in Christ have hope because of Christ’s resurrection. Jesus told Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die” (John 11:25-26).
2. His resurrection means believers in Christ may have hope in this life.
Many times things go wrong in this life and tragedy comes to steal our joy. But Christ’s resurrection means things, no matter how tragic, are never hopeless. Peter reminded the persecuted Christians of northern Turkey that God “has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). Because Christ is a resurrected, living Savior, we have an overcoming, life-giving hope.
3. His resurrection means believers in Christ are justified in God’s sight.
Though we are all sinners by nature and practice, every believer in Christ will stand justified in God’s sight because of His resurrection. Each is “justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24). It is a wonderful truth that when Christ arose from the dead, He assured our justification for He was “delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised again for our justification” (Rom. 4:25). He was crucified for our sins and was resurrected for our justification.
4. His resurrection means the sins of all believers in Christ are forgiven.
God promises full forgiveness of sins to every person who trusts in Jesus. Peter said, “through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses” (Acts 13:38-39). However, if Christ had been crucified, but not raised from the dead, our sins could not be forgiven. Paul wrote, “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished” (1 Cor. 15:17-18).
5. His resurrection means every person will give personal account to God.
Unbelieving skeptics may think: “That sounds good, but does not apply to me.” However, the consequence of Christ’s resurrection applies to everyone. When Paul preached to unbelieving pagans on Mars’ Hill, he said, “God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30, 31). Because Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose again, all people are accountable to Him!
Every person who has ever lived can have life, hope, justification, and forgiveness of sins because of Christ’s resurrection. Additionally, everyone will give account of himself to God, because of Christ’s resurrection. Aren’t you glad “He is not here, but is risen”?
So, have fun hunting for eggs, and enjoy that Easter ham, but don’t forget to rejoice in His resurrection and share this message of hope with others. It is true that: “The best news the world ever heard came from a cemetery in Jerusalem!”