Easter is celebrated by millions of Christians around the world. It is the most significant event in the Christian calendar.
Easter also coincides with the time of the Jewish Passover, and Good Friday is recognized as a statuary holiday in Ontario.
Because the church occupies a less prominent role in society, many may not be aware of the significance of Easter. This post covers some common questions about the meaning of Easter.
What Is Easter?
Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The Bible teaches that Jesus was executed by crucifixion by Romans in Jerusalem on a Friday before the Jewish Passover. When Jesus was killed, most of his followers scattered. On the Sunday after his execution, Jesus’ tomb was found empty. Subsequently, hundreds of people saw him alive.
Do People Really Believe in the Resurrection?
Fair question. Many people think that it was easy for people to believe in resurrection two thousand years ago. It was hard to believe back then. Nobody expected a dead person to come back to life then or now. As a result, people had a hard time believing in the resurrection then as they do now.
Yet many skeptics came to believe that Jesus was resurrected after seeing him alive. The evidence was so compelling that fearful skeptics became outspoken eyewitnesses of the resurrection.
Even today, former atheists and agnostics, after examining the evidence, have changed their minds and become Christians. People do not believe in the resurrection despite the evidence; they believe in it because of the evidence.
What Difference Does It Make?
The resurrection of Jesus is important for a couple of reasons.
First, because Jesus predicted his resurrection, it proves that he was telling the truth. His resurrection gives credibility to who he claimed to be and what he said.
Second, the resurrection means that more than the return of one man from the dead. The Bible teaches that Jesus’ death and resurrection are central to the Christian faith. At the cross, Jesus took the place of guilty people in an act of radical love and generosity. When he rose again, it signals that Jesus has defeated death, and that God authenticated his actions.
Christianity rises and falls with the resurrection. The Bible says, “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14). If Easter didn’t happen, then Christianity is falsified.
What Does This Mean for Me?
First: it’s okay to examine the evidence. Christianity doesn’t ask people to suspend judgment or to take a blind leap of faith. Early Christians were very skeptical about claims that Jesus rose from the dead. Since those days, the evidence has led people to believe the resurrection. It’s okay to ask hard questions and to follow the evidence where it leads. Books like The Reason for God, The Case for Christ, and Cold-Case Christianity explain why the evidence for the resurrection is so convincing.
Second: if true, the resurrection demonstrates God’s heart for the world. The death and resurrection of Jesus is the most radical act of generosity and love imaginable, and reveal to us God’s love and grace, not just for the faithful, but for anyone who wants it. The resurrection brings world-changing news.
If you have questions about Jesus or the resurrection, we’d love to hear from you. We’re a church for sinners, skeptics, and saints. Send us a message, or attend one of our services. We love answering questions and exploring what the message of Jesus means to us and the world.