He is Risen! By Babatunde Olugboji
The dictionary defines Easter as “an annual Christian festival in commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, observed on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox, as calculated according to tables based in Western churches on the Gregorian calendar and in Orthodox churches on the Julian calendar. Also called Easter Sunday. the day on which this festival is celebrated.”
The Bible Encyclopedia provides biblical references of Easter: “The word does not properly occur in Scripture, although the King James Version has it in Acts 12:4 where it stands for Passover, as it is rightly rendered in the Revised Version (British and American). There is no trace of Easter celebration in the New Testament, though some would see an intimation of it in 1 Corinthians 5:7. The Jewish Christians in the early church continued to celebrate the Passover, regarding Christ as the true Passover lamb, and this naturally passed over into a commemoration of the death and resurrection of our Lord or an Easter feast.”
Easter is three days after the death of Jesus on the cross. It follows a period of fasting called Lent, in which many churches set aside time for repentance and remembrance. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Good Friday, the day of Jesus’ crucifixion. The 40-day period was established by Pope Gregory 1 using the 40-day pattern of Israel, Moses, Elijah, and Jesus’ time in the wilderness.
The celebration of Esther has some pagan undertones, including that the word “Easter” was a derivative of “Eostre,” “originally a Saxon word, denoting a goddess of the Saxons, in honor of whom sacrifices were offered about the time of the Passover.”
However, as believers we should recognize Easter as the fulfilled prophecy of the Messiah who would be persecuted, die for our sins, and rise on the third day (Isaiah 53). Remembering the resurrection of Jesus is a way to renew daily hope that we have victory over sin. It is Christ’s triumph over death. His resurrection means the eternal life that is granted to all who believe in Him. The purpose of Easter also means the full confirmation of all that Jesus taught and preached during His three-year ministry. If he had not risen from the dead or simply died and not been resurrected, He would have been thought just another teacher or prophet. However, his resurrection rebuked all that and provided final and undeniable proof that He was the Son of God and that he had overcome death once and for all.
The resurrection of Christ from the dead is at the core of the Christian gospel. Apostle Paul says that if Christ is not raised from the dead, then our preaching and hope are in vain (1 Corinthians 15:14). Certainly, without the resurrection, there would be no Christian preaching or faith. The apostles of Christ would have continued as the disheartened group which the Gospel of John depicts being in hiding for fear of the Jews. They were in total despair until they met the risen Christ (John 20:19). Then they touched Christ’s wounds of the nails and the spear; they ate and drank with him. The resurrection became the foundation of everything they said and did (Acts 2-4): “…for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have” (Luke 24:39).
The resurrection affirms Jesus of Nazareth as the prophesied Messiah of Israel and the King and Lord of a new Jerusalem: a new heaven and a new earth.
Happy Easter and have a great week!
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