The Easter holiday is often associated with colorful egg hunts, candy baskets, parades, and cookouts with friends and family. But for Christians, Easter has a far more significant meaning. In fact, Easter represents the single most important event to occur in the history of Christianity: the resurrection of Jesus Christ and His ultimate triumph over sin and death.
In 1 Corinthians 15:17, the apostle Paul explains why Jesus' resurrection is so important for the believer: "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile, and you are still in your sins."
The seven days before Easter Sunday are referred to as Holy Week, or the Passover season. These days are set aside to commemorate the brief life, death, and resurrection of Christ.
Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday, a day when Christians reflect on how people spread out palm branches before Jesus of Nazareth, rejoicing in His presence as He entered Jerusalem, crying, "Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!"
Then, Maundy Thursday marks the Last Supper, the day where Jesus celebrated the Jewish Passover with His apostles.
According the Gospels, Jesus was tried for treason on Good Friday by Pilate, the Roman governor, and then by Herod, King of Judea, and once again by Pilate.Though declared innocent by authorities, Christ was crucified brutally on a cross, a death that was usually reserved for only the most dangerous of criminals. For Christians, Christ's humble death is significant because without it, there would be no hope of forgiveness or eternal life.
Sin, which has affected mankind since the Fall, has separated God from all of humanity, both now, and for eternity. But when Christ died on the cross, He became the final and perfect sacrifice for our sins, thus taking upon Himself the judgment that we deserve. As the Bible says, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us" (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Jesus was then laid in a sealed and guarded tomb. Three days later, He rose from the dead--as was foretold by the Old Testament prophet Isaiah.
By resurrecting from the dead, Jesus not only proved that He was the Son of God who could take away the sins of the world, but He conquered death and hell for all of humanity. Today, those who believe in Christ do not need to fear death, because Jesus has defeated its power over us.
Jesus' promise of eternal life for those who follow Him is found in John 11:25: "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies."
This Easter, take a moment to reflect on Christ's deep love for His people--a love so deep, in fact, that He was willing to undergo severe torture so that we would be saved from eternal condemnation.
The great Christian author C.S. Lewis wrote, "Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of no importance and, if true, is of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important."
The celebration of Easter should be particularly special for the Christian, for Christ's Resurrection from the dead is central to the doctrine of Christianity. Without it, there is no hope of salvation, and no hope for eternal life in heaven.
Because Christ has been resurrected, Christians can say confidently along with the Apostle Paul in 1st Corinthians, "Oh death, where is thy victory? Oh death, where is thy sting?"