After his crucifixion, death, and burial, three days later, He rose from the grave. By this, He conquered death and redeemed us from sin.
As we’ll explore in this article, the Easter holy day did coincide with some pagan holidays. Because the church didn’t celebrate Easter until a certain point, owing to the persecution the church experienced for the first few centuries, the Christian creation of the holiday did happen around the same time as another pagan celebration was in full swing. Nevertheless, on this holiday, we strive to celebrate God’s victory over the grave. In this article, we’ll explore the meaning of the word Easter, pagan associations of the holiday, and what the holiday means for Christians today.
The significance of Easter is Jesus Christ’s triumph over death. His resurrection means the eternal life that is granted to all who believe in Him. The purpose of Easter also means the full confirmation of all that Jesus taught and preached during His three-year ministry. If He had not risen from the dead, if He had simply died and not been resurrected, He would have been thought just another teacher or prophet. However, His resurrection rebuked all that and provided final and undeniable proof that He was really the Son of God and that He had overcome death once and for all.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the core of the Christian gospel. Saint Paul says that if Christ is not raised from the dead, then our preaching and hope are in vain (1 Cor. 15:14). Certainly, without the resurrection, there would be no Christian preaching or faith. The apostles of Christ would have continued as the disheartened group which the Gospel of John depicts being in hiding for fear of the Jews. They were in total despair until they met the risen Christ (John 20:19). Then they touched Christ’s wounds of the nails and the spear; they ate and drank with Him. The resurrection became the foundation of everything they said and did (Acts 2-4): “…for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have” (Luke 24:39).
The resurrection affirms Jesus of Nazareth as not only the prophesied Messiah of Israel but as the King and Lord of a new Jerusalem: a new heaven and a new earth.
- Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead – 1 Peter 1:3 ESV
We celebrate Easter because this holiday recognizes that we can die to our old way of living and resurrect into our new life with Christ. Christianity does require a death to self. But the resurrection we experience in a spiritual sense and the resurrection of the body we have yet to experience give us ample cause for celebration.
- Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, – John 11:25 ESV
We have full confidence that no matter what happens to us on this Earth that we can experience eternal joy with God in heaven. No wonder so many brothers and sisters continue to praise Jesus even when they experience persecution and martyrdom. Because we have a greater hope and promise.
- Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. – Romans 10:9
It is integral to our faith that we believe in the Resurrection. Our faith has no foundation if we don’t believe Jesus rose again on that Easter Sunday.
- 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. – Romans 8:11
- Because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” – Acts 17:31
- We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. – Romans 6:4
The Christian faith has many symbols. We often replicate the process Jesus underwent on the cross in a symbolic sense. We die to our old selves. We also are “buried” through the sacrament of baptism and experience a resurrection and new life in Christ. Christ gives us a new life holistically. We experience some of that new life during our time on Earth and look forward to experiencing the rest of the resurrection in Heaven.
- For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. – Romans 14:9
We celebrate Easter because God lived the life we should’ve lived, and died the death we deserved to die so that we could live. What a wonderful cause for celebration. That we can experience the resurrection with Him!