Easter is this weekend. Like most Christian “holidays” it is unlikely that it is actually the anniversary of the weekend Jesus died and rose again, merely the week we celebrate or remember that event. The origin of the word ‘Easter’ is from the same word that gives us ‘oestrogen’ and is a pointer back to the original celebration of this weekend, the first full moon of spring, celebrating fertility. That is why we have rabbits and eggs this weekend, symbols of fertility and new life.
I guess I should call it ‘passion week’ to bring the focus back to Jesus, but people still have Christ in Christmas and have little knowledge of Him at that time, so I doubt it is significant.
God created the world and created humans to live in harmony with him. But He gave people free will, to choose to love Him. But inevitably we sinned and rejected God. God could have wiped out the human race at that point and started all over again, but instead He decided to save us. He chose to save us from the punishment due to us for our rebellion from God, and from the need to continue to sin, to punish ourselves.
He did this through Jesus, his death and resurrection. When you mention the man Jesus, you are implying the event we celebrate as Christmas – when Jesus came into the world. He then spent time here on earth, growing up, being in a family, in a community, in a church. Then he spent time teaching, healing and performing the occasional miracle. He spent a lot of time rebuking those in the church who were bringing shame to God and leading his people astray. Then came the time for which God became man – the crucifixion.
On the cross Jesus became the one true sacrifice. He took the punishment we deserve on the cross, and died. We can live freely in the knowledge that sin holds no fear for us. The Jesus rose again, overcoming death starting life eternal. In this manner we too can be reborn into eternity.
So, Jesus purpose in coming was two fold:
- To reveal God to us.
- To take away the sins of the world.
If he only did the former, life would still be ruled by the old covenant, sacrifices would be a daily, weekly and yearly ritual and the only way we could know God is through his writings, the Bible. This is all Jesus would have achieved if we had Christmas and not Easter.
But the latter is the reason for Easter and hence, the reason for Christmas, Jesus’ entry into our world. He came to live so that he might die, having done amazing things in the interim. So Easter is the most important time in a Christians year. It is when we truly face our own sin and inadequacy, our need for salvation rather than just a desire to know God.
This weekend I hope people think about the reason Jesus died, our sinfulness. I hope they realise the cost that had to be paid for our sake. I hope they turn away from sin, towards God, in thankfulness. I hope they will see God on judgement day with gladness, not dread.