The reality of Easter goes well beyond the day of the holiday.
The power of the resurrection of Jesus to change things is not limited to the Sunday following the full moon which falls on or after the spring equinox (March 21st).
Easter can be meaningful everyday.
And for a follower of Jesus, Easter must be relied upon at all times!
What Is Easter?
Easter is a day on which people all around the world celebrate something miraculous — the resurrection of Jesus from the dead!
The Gospels, in the Bible’s New Testament, reveal to us that Jesus was falsely accused of being a threat to Rome and was sentenced to death. The method of execution was to be being hanged on a cross.
And this is what happened to Jesus — he was hanged on a cross on a Friday before Passover and he died while hanging there. His dead body was removed from the cross and placed in a tomb that belonged to someone else.
On the third day (Friday being the first day, Saturday the second, and Sunday the third), Jesus was resurrected from the dead by power of God! Despite there being a large stone rolled in front of the tomb and a security detail being in place, Jesus’ body was nowhere to be found!
The first people to bear witness to this amazing fact were women: Mary Magdalene (who, by the way, was NOT a prostitute!), Mary the mother of James, and Salome.
In short order the resurrected Jesus revealed himself more personally to Mary Magdalene, who was then told to tell the other disciples that he was risen.
Over the next few days Jesus appeared to many of his followers, whom Paul numbers at over 500 (1 Corinthians 15.6-8).
In other words, Easter is all about the resurrection of Jesus from the dead!
Why Does Easter Matter?
So what? What does it matter that some guy who lived thousands of years ago died and was risen from the dead on the third day?
- Easter demonstrates the power of God. Never before and never since has a person been resurrected. Sure, people have been resuscitated. In fact, thanks to modern medical practices, this is a somewhat common occurrence. But people who have been resuscitated will die again. Resurrection is different. A person who has been resurrected will never die again. They will live forever. For this feat to be accomplished, God had to act in a way that was unprecedented. And he did. And in so doing he showed his great power to the world!
- Easter is a preview of things to come. The writers of the New Testament, especially Paul, had in mind a concept that is almost totally foreign to us today — the general resurrection of the dead (see especially 1 Corinthians 15.12-57). The general picture looks something like this: when Jesus returns, after some important events happen, all the dead will be resurrected bodily. That means that they will come back to life but in a resurrectted body, which is imperishable (1 Corinthians 15.42). Frankly, this image of how things will unfold is not at all like what most of us are accustomed to. It appears to me that many of us believe in a folk theology that seems to say that when we die we become disembodied angelic beings floating about on clouds while playing heavenly music. This isn’t a biblical idea! Instead, Easter is a preview of things to come, namely that we all will be raised bodily at the end! And, friends, this is good news! Because the body that we will be given can’t suffer pain and won’t age or decay!
- Easter assures us that things can change. Any of us who have lived for a while know how hard it is to change things in our lives. Behaviors, patterns of thinking, spending habits, how much we eat and exercise, etc., etc. all feel impossible to change. But is there anything more unchangeable than the permanence of death? And the permanence of death is exactly what God changed through the resurrection of Jesus! Therefore, by extension, what is there that the power of God can’t change? Nothing! God can turn the most intractable situation around. He can help the most stubborn person become better. And God can change our futures as well! Easter proves that there is nothing which is impossible with God!
- Easter can help us be set free from fear. Death is the thing that many of us fear the most, well that or speaking in public! But in all reality, death is scary. What happens when we die? How will it feel? Will there be pain involved? How will our loved ones respond? Will they be taken care of? Will we have a thousand regrets and million things left undone when we die? The resurrection of Jesus can help assuage some of these fears. Death isn’t something to fear anymore, it’s simply a transition to being with God forever. And not just being with him, but having imperishable bodies that are like Jesus’ resurrected body (Philippians 3.21). Easter can help us be prepared for death and to face it with confidence!
How Do We Rely on Easter Everyday?
Here are a few ideas:
- Think about it. If we never, ever think about the fact that Jesus was resurrected from the dead (except for on the day of Easter), how can it have an impact on our lives? So during our times of meditation or our quiet times, let’s reflect on Easter. Let’s remember that by the power of God Jesus defeated death. And let’s remember that God has given us that same power through the Holy Spirit as well.
- Practice it. We need to find ways to put ourselves in positions that require the power of God that he demonstrated on Easter. What would some of these positions be? Seeking out diverse Christian community. Getting to know our neighbors. Being willing to put the interests of others before our own, even if we don’t think they deserve it. Going way out of our comfort zones. Advocating for justice. Etc.
- Share it. I mean this in two ways: 1) We need to share the reality of Easter within Christian community; and 2) We need to share the reality of Easter with those who might be far from God in one way or another. How? First, by experiencing the power of Easter in front of one another. This is scary of course! We might look weird after all. Second, by encouraging one another to experience the power of Easter themselves. And third, by listening to one another and then praying for God to demonstrate his power in the areas that we’ve just listened to.
What do you think? How can we make the reality of Easter matter everyday? Let me know in the comments below!