Unique Message of Easter
Easter is a wonderful occasion for Christians. Not so much because it is a “holy day.” As Protestant Christians, we are not altogether comfortable with the notion of holy days in the first place. There is nothing intrinsically more holy about this Sunday than any of the other 364 days on the calendar. Nor does the importance of Easter lie in the fact that it is a “holiday.” Every religion has its holidays, often occasions for revelry that are only thinly connected to the original event that they celebrate. Christians don’t do holidays terribly well anyway. Easter is a fairly subdued event in the West. If you like celebrations with gusto, observe Muslims at Eid, Jews at Purim, or Hindus at Holi.
Rather, the significance of Easter is that it calls us to remember and reflect on the one event that sets the Christian faith apart from every other faith. The one historical fact that, if true, renders all competing truth claims about God false: the resurrection of Christ. All other religions in the world are essentially wisdom traditions: organized attempts, through holy men and holy books, to offer prescriptions for living lives that will please the gods. All the faiths ever devised are man’s attempt to make their best guess at what God is like and what he requires of us. Christianity is unique in that there is no guesswork: we know who God is and what he requires because we know Jesus and what he has done. And through the resurrection, Jesus proved that he is no holy man pretending to be divine, but that he is indeed a member of the Godhead itself. Therefore the word of God is not the shifting sand of human “wisdom” but is a person, Jesus Christ. We can have confidence that his word never changes, never needs to be updated to suit the times of the spirit of the age.
The resurrection is one of the best-attested facts of the ancient world. So well does the evidence line up in its favor, that were it not a miraculous event, nobody would have any doubt about its historicity. And it is this fact that makes Easter the most significant event in the history of the church and the world. It is the thread that holds the whole sweater together. Because the Christian faith is based on the Word of God in the person of his son, Jesus, its whole validity and significance ride on the truth of the resurrection.
Other faiths do not live or die on the basis of historical facts. They can be molded to suit the evolving human view of God. As those who believe in and have staked their eternal destiny on the resurrection, we do not shape God’s Word to suit our tastes. We cannot. Nor do we create our own wisdom, because we have Christ, who is the wisdom of God. As Christians, we do not make up our faith as we go along because Christ is alive and with us by the Spirit of God.
So as you celebrate Easter this week, remember: Christ’s resurrection vindicates all of his claims about himself, it allows us to know, with certainty, who God is and what he expects. Most importantly, it gives us a living hope and an example: proving what Christ has done for us in his victory over sin and death, and showing us how we must then live in light of this truth. Your friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family members who don’t know of or believe in the Easter message cannot know God or have a relationship with him. And they may never hear unless they hear it from you. Won’t you tell them?