From the Easter bunny to pastel-colored candy, jelly beans and cream-filled chocolate eggs lining grocery store aisles, the day known "Easter Sunday" is easily one of society's most commercialized holidays.
This year, Easter falls on Sunday, March 27. And while there's nothing wrong with family get-togethers, Easter egg hunts, and parades, it's important to remember that the holiday has a far deeper, more significant meaning: It represents the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and his triumph over the grave.
Why is Easter so important for Christianity?
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is perhaps the single most important event to occur in the history of Christianity, for according to Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:17, "if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile, and you are still in your sins."
Thus, Christ's Resurrection from the dead is central to the doctrine of Christianity, because without it, there is no hope of salvation, and no hope for eternal life in heaven.
"The Week" columnist Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry puts it this way: "For Christians, Easter commemorates the fact that, supernaturally, the resurrection of Jesus Christ changed something fundamental about the world and about humanity...In the end, the meaning of Easter is as simple as it seems: it says that life triumphs over death."
What happened over Easter weekend?
The seven days before Easter Sunday are referred to as Holy Week, or the Passover season. Three significant events occurred in succession on Easter weekend: the trial of Jesus, then the death of Jesus, and finally the resurrection of Jesus.
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.
When Jesus was hanging on the cross, the skeptics and critics mocked him and said, "If you're the Son of God, why don't you just pull yourself down from that cross? Why don't you just come down and show that you're really God?"
But Jesus had something more spectacular planned. He said, "I'm going to let you bury me for three days, then I'll come back to life to prove that I am what I am." After he died, the son of God was then laid in a sealed and guarded tomb.
However, a story of great sorrow turned into one of joy for those who believe in Christ.
The gospels describe two women bringing spices to the tomb early Easter morning to prepare Christ's crucified body for burial. Amazingly, the tomb was empty, guarded by two angels.
"Why do you look for the living among the dead?" they ask the women, "He is risen!"
Is Jesus Christ your Savior?
Because Christ has been resurrected and ascended into Heaven, Christians can say confidently along with the Apostle Paul in 1st Corinthians, "Oh death, where is thy victory? Oh death, where is thy sting?"
"The Purpose Driven Life" author Rick Warren contends that Easter really boils down to only two issues: One, is Jesus who he says he is - the Son of God? And two, if he is who he says he is, when are you going to start following what he says to do with your life?"
"Today, you sit in judgment of Jesus Christ," he writes. "Just as Pilate asked, "What shall I do then with Jesus who is called the Christ?" you also must decide whether he was who he said or not. Are you willing to gamble your life that he was wrong?"