In a world of religious and cultural diversity, Easter is a holiday that many of us know about but few of us truly understand.
Most of us associate Easter with the resurrection of Jesus Christ. From the perspective of Christianity, this is the most important event in all of human history. But what does it mean? And why is it so central to Christian faith and practice?
In this article we'll cover the meaning behind Easter and its importance to Christians around the world.
Resurrection Means More Than Merely Rising From The Dead - A Brief Resurrection Def
To understand the meaning of Easter Sunday, or the meaning behind Easter, we first need to recognize that the word "resurrection" means more than simply "rising from the dead." It is a word that carries with it a sense of newness, a sense of starting over, a sense of being infused with the Divine Life. The Scripture writers did not experience a merely resuscitating Jesus; they saw Him brought back to life in a new and different way.
The disciples on the Way to Emmaus walked with Him all day and did not recognize Him until the breaking of the bread. (Luke 24:14-35) Yet despite not recognizing Him, their hearts were burning within them and they understood the Scriptures in new and different ways (v.32). When Jesus appeared to His disciples in Jerusalem, they were inside of a locked house, and yet he was able to enter and be among them (John 20:19-23). But to be sure He still had a physical body, He ate a piece of fish in their presence (Luke 24:41-43).
Herein lies the mystery. Christ rose from the dead with His physical body, and yet somehow that body was different both in appearance and function.
Jesus brought the Divine Life to those places where it was absent, thus transforming all of creation.
God had always inteded that Creation would be filled with His presence - that there would be a sort of divine energy that not only animates all things, but that all things would participate in its love and goodness. The tragedy of sin is that it took a creation that was good, and pushed God to the side. This had consequences not only for human beings, but even down to how the earth itself produces the food that all creatures consume. (Genesis 3:17-19)
Christ came into this world as the God-Man, the perfect union between human beings and the Trinity. He did this not as a man being raised up, but as God the Son, coming down to our level and uniting the Godhead to humanity (Philippians 2). There is no place on earth more absent of God's presence than death. Death can be thought of as the absolute zero of divine energy. But by uniting Himself to humanity, Jesus was able to enter the realm of death, bringing the Divine Life with Him. Such a combination proved to be poisonous to death. Death is the absense of life, and Jesus brought with him eternal, divine life, thus overcoming the powers of sin and death from the inside. Doing so changed everything, so much so that creation itself has been in a process of transformation ever since.
The resurrection of Jesus means that the Kingdom of God is here, yet not fully so. The kingdom has entered human history, but it is not fully present and therefore we still experience suffering and death (Mk 13:31-32). The world is caught between two ages: the age to come and the present imperfect age. This tension gives rise to hope. Easter is a feast of hope because it tells us that God's future has invaded our present and will one day be victorious over all evil.
Jesus overcame death and opened for us the way of eternal life. It also tells us that we share in His victory over sin, suffering, and death when we are baptized into the New Covenant and become living members of Christ.
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the crowning truth of our faith in Christ, a faith believed and lived as the central truth by the first Christian community; handed on as fundamental by Tradition; established by the documents of the New Testament; and preached as an essential part of the Church's preaching until our own day.
The great feast of Easter celebrates and solemnizes the victory of Christ over death. The risen Christ "entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption" (Hebrews 9:12).
Jesus' Resurrection from the dead is a historical event that cannot be denied. According to Scripture and Tradition, it also represents our own resurrection from death to eternal life. In our Baptism we are united to Christ in his death, and thus become like Him in His resurrected life (Romans 6:3-4). The Book of Common Prayer teaches we share in Christ's victory over sin, suffering and death when we are baptized into the New Covenant Jesus made during His earthly life, which makes us living members of Christ (Book of Common Prayer, page 850).
Key Takeaway: The resurrection of Jesus Christ has implications for both our life here and hereafter.
Easter has implications because there is a definite meaning behind it. The meaning behind Easter is that Jesus brought divine light and life to those places were it was conspicuously absent. Nowhere was it more absent than the grave, which is why Jesus had to die before rising again. He needed to bring Divine Life to the darkest places of creation.
We see the effect in the transformation of Jesus Himself. His closest followers didn't recognize Him; He could enter locked rooms while still having a body. But the transformation is not limited to Him. To us who are baptized into Christ we are infused with the same Divine Life, the same resurrection power that resurrected Jesus from the dead. Our lives themselves are transformed, and we live in that place where the future of God's Kingdom in all of its fullness is breaking into our present, imperfect world.
If you like what you read here, be sure to join us on Easter Sunday for services. We worship together at 8:00 and 10:30.