Cap's Corner: The true meaning of Easter
Most everyone knows that Easter Sunday is all about Easter eggs, a bunny, and somewhere in there, church. In general, I don’t mind the Easter eggs; I love hardboiled eggs and I love candy, so it is a win-win for me. I also don’t mind the Easter bunny – until it starts to cloud up the true meaning of Easter: the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
I cannot emphasizes enough the importance of Jesus’ resurrection. But I have met pastors who do not believe in both the resurrection of Jesus or life after death. They call themselves Christians, but I cannot call them so. I will tell you why.
Paul wrote about this in 1 Corinthians 15:16-19, where he said: “For if the dead are not raised, Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Therefore those who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished. If we have placed our hope in Christ for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone” (Holman CSB). Paul is stating that, without the resurrection of Jesus, our own resurrection will not and cannot happen. If that is the case, not only are we wrong about this, but we must apologize to God for misrepresenting Him.
Those who do not believe in Jesus’ resurrection view Jesus as a good moral teacher. I won’t argue against that; I will let CS Lewis argue against it: “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say.
A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell.
You must make your choice. Either this man was and is the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. . . . Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend, and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God” (Mere Christianity, 55-56).
We are now at the point that we either believe that Jesus is who he said he was – the Son of God – or we have to walk away calling him crazy and his followers delusional. Is there proof, besides the Bible, that can point us in one direction or the other? The answer is both 'yes' and 'no.' There are ample non-Christian historical writings about Jesus. So, Jesus’ historicity is not being doubted. But his resurrection is: Outside of Christian writings, we have no other claims to confirm it.
Here, we have to rely on faith, but we do have some powerful indicators that Jesus truly was resurrected. Actually, we have 12 powerful indicators, and they are called His disciples.
If we look at these disciples before the resurrection, we find all of them lacking in faith, and the reason they were lacking in faith is because they lacked understanding. Albert Einstein said, “Any fool can know, the point is to understand.” They knew Jesus, but they did not understand who he truly was; if they had, they would have been excited that Sunday morning of his resurrection, and all of them would have raced to the tomb.
These men sat in the Upper Room all weekend long, fearful that the Pharisees or the Romans would be coming for them next. They did not stay this way for long. Soon, these men – who had been cowering in the Upper Room – would be preaching in the Temple itself in front of the very men that had Jesus crucified.
They did so without fear. Why? What could possibly have changed them from mere men to the mighty disciples that we know today? I have come up with only one answer: They witnessed the resurrected Jesus, and with that, they came to fully understand Him.
If the resurrection of Jesus is true, it stands to reason that everything else about Jesus is true as well. At Easter time, we do not celebrate only the resurrection of Jesus, but also what that means for all of humankind for all time. The resurrection of Jesus means the defeat of sin and death. Those ancient words in the Old Testament we can now fully understand: “Death has been swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting?”
This Easter, eat your hardboiled eggs and candy, and enjoy the Easter bunny. But by all means, let us celebrate together – this day and every day – the victory that our Lord and Savior, the Risen Christ, has given to all of us that have accepted Him and His gift!
May you and your family have a blessed Easter!
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