Now, that the Easter season is past, it might be a good time to reflect on the real significance of this day.
For many, Easter is a celebration of the spring season. It is graced by spring flowers, chicks and baby bunnies. We all love the chocolate that appears everywhere in the stores at this time of the year.
For most Christians, Easter is considered to be the most important festival on the Christian calendar. We prepare for it by attending Lenten or Holy Week services. We put on our best Sunday clothes and attend worship with our family and friends. It is truly a time of celebration.
But too often we don’t stop to reflect on what it is that we are celebrating. The abbreviated answer, of course, is we are celebrating Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. He was crucified and he rose on the third day. But, so what? What difference does it make in the 21st Century? What difference does it make in our everyday lives?
In Acts, chapter 2, the Apostle Peter gives his very first sermon after the Lord rose from the dead. In the meantime, Peter had seen the empty tomb, Jesus had appeared to him on several occasions and, most importantly, his life had been totally transformed when the Holy Spirit fell upon him and his fellow followers of Christ that very day. There was no longer any question about what God had done – or why.
As he begins the conclusion of his message to the crowds that were there to celebrate Pentecost, he says, “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
For the Jewish people this was a declaration that Jesus was their Messiah, the One who was to be anointed as their King. He was the fulfillment of the promise given to King David a thousand years earlier.
But Jesus made it clear while He was still with them that He had come to be the King over all peoples. Just before he ascended into heaven, he commanded his disciples to go into all the world and raise up other disciples to follow him.
So first of all, Easter means our King, has come. There are few people living today that would not say that they long for the day when there is no more suffering, or injustice, or evil.
The only person in history who brings such hope into the human experience is Jesus, the promised King.
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After Peter had explained this to the crowds, they asked him what they should do. He answered, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.”
So Easter also means Jesus has forgiven our sins. This hope is based on what Jesus did for us while he lived among us. His entire, sinless life was lived for that one purpose. He lived so that He might die. But He did not die for his own sins. He died to take on the sins of the world and carry our punishment. When he rose from the dead, the deal was sealed. God dealt with human sin and all of its consequences once and for all.
While forgiveness is no longer conditioned on how good we are or on how hard we work, there is a condition to receiving God forgiveness.
Peter tells the people they are to repent and be baptized. These are references to our need for faith and obedience.
Finally, Easter means we have hope of eternal life. Peter went on to say as a result of their repentance they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. He said this promise was not only for them and their children but for “all whom the Lord our God will call.”
This means what Jesus did through His death and resurrection He did for all of us. Although Jesus ascended bodily into heaven, He has left His Spirit to live in us. This gives us hope of eternal life.
This includes the hope whatever we face in this life, God will be with us, to strengthen, guide and comfort us. But it also means we have hope for the life to come.
Death is a reality that many would rather avoid facing. But Jesus enables us to face the reality of death with the hope that we will be able to spend eternity with Him.
Easter may be past for this year but with the Spirit of Jesus living in us we can celebrate His resurrection every day of the year.