Sunday, 8 April 2012

Chocolate Egg Laying Bunnies or the Day the World was Saved?

As Britain, and much of the Western world, becomes more and more secular, one religious event still shapes the calendar that people live by: the Easter weekend.  Though most will know that it is something to do with the death of Jesus Christ, today the holiday stands for different things for different people: family, food, the Easter Bunny, welcome time off work, chocolate eggs and more.

Still, though people will being saying "Happy Easter" over this weekend, it seems that few really take in why Easter is happy, especially if it is based around the death of Jesus.

The whole Easter weekend is set out to mirror the events of Jesus' death which culminates in Easter Sunday. The weekend itself, that moves each year, is decided by the Sunday after the spring equinox, traditionally the day of the Jewish Passover feast.  This suits that Jesus and his disciples enjoyed a Passover meal, the last supper, on the Thursday before Jesus' death.  Good Friday is the day of Jesus' death (for why it's so good when it's about someone's death, have a look at my post from Friday) followed three days later by Easter Sunday, the day that celebrates Jesus' rising from the dead.

The Bible says that we are all sinners (that by our nature we rebel from God) and cannot have a true relationship with God: if He is truly holy, He can't have anything to do with sin.  However, the Bible also says that  through Jesus we can know God and in fact spend eternity living with Him.  How so?  Through Jesus' death, he has taken the punishment that we deserve and our sin is counted no more.  And how can we know this is true?  Because he not only died but he rose again!

That a man predicted his own innocent death and that he would rise from the dead three days later was strange enough, but the fact that it actually then happened (which is historically accepted by the majority of historians) has major consequences to the world.  No other religious leader, or anyone in history, has claimed to have come back from the dead; if this man did then we need to take notice.  This miraculous, supernatural event shows that Jesus was who he said he was and proves that what he and the Bible says about reality, humanity and God is true.

Easter is happy, not because we all get chocolate (as great as that is) but because through Jesus' death and resurrection we can know our Creator, have value in this world and have a life to come.  God's power in the apparent weakness of Jesus' humiliating death on Good Friday was evidenced by the events of three days later, Easter Sunday, when Jesus' tomb was empty and the God-man walked the earth again.  Like Jesus, each person in history should justly suffer death but, having taken our place, the world was saved on Easter day.

God promised that would happen and that, if we give our lives to Jesus, take up our cross  (Matthew 16:24) and are 'buried with him in baptism', we will also be 'raised with him' in the same way (Colossians 2:12).  Jesus said 'if you hate your life in this world, you will keep it for eternal life' (John 12:25).  This is the essence of taking up your cross and giving your life to serve Jesus.  If you do this, you may not gain the world but you will know God and have eternity to look forward to.  That isn't to say that giving your life up in this way is easy (it's not, I know!) but it sure is happy news that we have the opportunity to know God and have a future with Him in paradise and we have the events of Easter to thank Him for that.

Happy Easter!