What Is Easter All About?
Eggs, bunnies, and candy?
Just like other holidays, the celebration of Easter has come to include many traditions, decorations, and fun events which have nothing to do with the real meaning of the day. Coloring and hunting for Easter eggs, eating candy, and enjoying a big family dinner are fun things to do, but the true meaning of Easter is not found in any of them.
What is Easter really about?
Easter is the time of year when Christians remember and celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. You may notice that the date of Easter changes each year. This is because, historically, the timing of Easter has been linked with the Jewish Passover feast, which was taking place at the time Jesus died and rose again. In fact, the Bible links the sacrificial death of Jesus with that of the Passover lamb: “Christ our passover is sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7).
Why celebrate someone’s death?
It might seem strange to some people that we remember and even celebrate the death of Jesus Christ. Why do we do it? Just like we would honor the loss of a soldier who died for our country, or a hero who lost his life while rescuing someone dear to us, Christians commemorate the death of Jesus Christ because He died for us—He died to rescue us.
You see, each of us has a problem called sin. Sin is the Bible’s word—God’s word—for everything we do that goes against what God wants. We all sin by doing things we shouldn’t do like lying, stealing, or swearing. We also sin in other ways, like having improper thoughts and attitudes—even by not doing things we know we should do (Matthew 5:28; James 4:17).
What does this have to do with Jesus? Well, Jesus, the Son of God, is the only person who ever lived a perfect life without any sin. Because He is sinless, He was perfectly qualified to become our substitute: “Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). That is the very reason God sent Jesus here: He came to open the way of salvation by bearing “our sins in His own body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24).
Did Jesus really rise from the dead?
Yes, He did. The Bible is very clear on this, and even gives a list of witnesses who saw Him alive again. In addition to the apostles and others who are named, Jesus appeared to more than 500 people at one time (read John chapters 20 and 21; 1 Corinthians 15:1-8). The fact of Jesus’ resurrection is not only a demonstration of God’s power and majesty, it is a proof that God is satisfied with the work Jesus did on the cross when He suffered for our sins.
Because of who He is and what He has done, Jesus—the living Savior—is the only way to Heaven. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me” (John 14:6).
What does this mean for me?
Do you want to be free from your sin—free from the burden and weight of sin which is dragging you down to Hell? Turn to Jesus. You need a Savior who can stand between you and God, one who can make peace with God for you (Romans 5:1). Jesus died for you and rose again; He is the savior you need!
God’s message to you is simple: repent and believe (Acts 20:21). Acknowledge that you are a lost sinner in need of the Savior. Reach out by faith and lay hold of what Jesus has done for you. He will take away your sins (1 John 3:5), give you peace with God, and make you a new person (2 Corinthians 5:17)! “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9).
“Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (John 11:25). —MWTB
Christ Is Risen
The Resurrection of Christ Is …
Proof of the deity of Christ.
"Jesus Christ … declared to be the Son of God with power … by the resurrection from the dead" (Romans 1:3,4).
An integral part of the gospel.
"The gospel … how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
The seal of the finished work of Christ.
"When He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high" (Hebrews 1:3).
Essential for salvation.
"If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins" (1 Corinthians 15:17). "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved" (Romans 10:9).
Evidence of the believer's justification.
"Jesus our Lord … was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification" (Romans 4:24,25).
Vital for possession of eternal life.
"I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die" (John 11:25,26).
Guarantee of the believer's resurrection.
"Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout … and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them … to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17).
The reason for the believer's hope.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which … hath begotten us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1 Peter 1:3).
The assurance of the sinner's judgment.
"He hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead" (Acts 17:31).
"But now is Christ risen from the dead" (1 Corinthians 15:20). "He showed Himself alive … by many infallible proofs" (Acts 1:3). — MWTB
The Empty Cross
Arriving at Golgotha that evening, I was overcome with a sense of emptiness. The area was completely deserted, but three blood-stained crosses at the top of the hill served as solemn reminders of the events of the day.
Less than a week earlier, Jesus of Nazareth entered the city with His disciples and many others proclaiming Him as Messiah, our long-awaited Savior. We were full of hope, because He was clearly a teacher sent by God with the power to work miracles—healing, feeding, and even raising people from the grave!
But then, the one who we thought would bring salvation was dead. It all happened so quickly; one day He was teaching His followers, and the next He was on trial and condemned to death by crucifixion. Even the execution was rushed, as the soldiers used a spear to ensure that He was dead before the day was over.
The empty cross, and the emptiness in my heart, both testified to one fact—Jesus died.
The Empty Tomb
Three days later, some of His followers went to the tomb, found it empty, and returned with amazing news—He was alive! For the next forty days, He continued to teach and encourage His disciples, appearing first to one, then two, then eleven—and eventually more than five hundred of us at once!
Jesus had predicted that He would suffer, die, and rise again, but we just couldn’t comprehend the beauty of God’s divine plan to redeem our souls. When He said, “I lay down My life, that I might take it again,” we didn’t realize what He meant at the time.
But now, looking back on these events, I see how the empty cross testifies of His love, and the empty tomb declares His mighty power. God’s Word says:
• “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us” (1 John 3:16).
• “[Jesus was] declared to be the Son of God with power … by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4).
This narrative was compiled using Biblical testimony found in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, and 1 Corinthians.
Jesus took our sins upon Himself—suffered and died in our place—so we can be forgiven. There on the cross, He cried out, “It is finished” (John 19:30). The empty cross tells us that the work is done, the price has been paid, and the door to Heaven stands open.
The empty tomb demonstrates that Jesus won the victory over sin and death. Listen to His words: “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (John 11:25).
Jesus now offers salvation to all mankind. If we reject Him, we must stand before God and be judged for our sins—“cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).
But if we admit that we are sinners, turn to God, and put our trust in Jesus Christ, we will find forgiveness and eternal life. “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved … For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:9,13). — MWTB
“He is not here: for He is risen, as He said” (Matthew 28:6)
These glorious words, spoken by an angel, brought fear and great joy to those who heard them. The previous weeks must have been a blur of activity to them. They had seen their Messiah, the Lord Jesus, raise Lazarus from the dead, enter triumphantly into Jerusalem as their King, and then be betrayed, arrested, beaten, and hung on a cross to die between two criminals. They had thought He was the One who would deliver them from their enemies and lead them into His kingdom. Now, early in the morning, they were visiting His tomb.
The news that He was alive should not have surprised them. He foretold His crucifixion and resurrection many times. In fact, time after time, He told them that He would go to Jerusalem, die, and rise again (Matthew 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:18-19). The importance of His resurrection is as great as that of His death. Jesus “was delivered [into death] for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Romans 4:25). Through His death the penalty was paid for our sins. Through His resurrection we are given a living hope—the proof that His promises are true (1 Peter 1:3-5). Without a living Savior, there is no hope. “If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain” (1 Corinthians 15:17). But He lives! “I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of Hell and of death” (Revelation 1:18).
Because of His resurrection, Jesus lives as the hope and glory of the believer and the Judge of the unbeliever. Have you turned to God in repentance, putting your faith in Jesus Christ —claiming His gift of eternal life? “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
If you have not, come to Him right now. Coming to Jesus means believing that He alone is able and willing to be your personal Savior and Lord: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31). “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9).
If you have trusted the living Savior, consider this: “He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5:15). He has died for you and risen again to raise you from spiritual death to spiritual life. “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1-3).
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (John 11:25-26).
Read God’s word, the Bible. See what great things the living Lord has done for you! — MWTB
The Meaning of Easter
"Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God."
To the people of the world
…Easter means that the perfect plan of salvation has been provided.
The Bible, God’s book, summarizes the "gospel"—which means "good news"— this way:
"Christ died for our sins in accordance to the Scriptures…He was buried …He was raised on the third day in accordance to the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). "God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).
…Easter means that He is satisfied with Jesus’ death in our place.
"Christ…suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous [us], that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). "Jesus Christ the righteous…is the propitiation [the Satisfier of God’s just punishment] for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 2:1-2).
To the believer
…Easter is the promise of everlasting life.
Jesus promised, "Because I live, you also will live" (John 14:19). And “whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me [God the Father] has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life" (John 5:24).
…Easter is a challenge to believe.
"God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God" (John 11:25). The Bible says that “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord [God’s Son] and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9).
You can know the true meaning of Easter in your life today!
Recognize that without Christ you are separated from God.
In honest repentance admit your sin and your need to be saved: "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).
Realize that God loves you and that Jesus Christ died for your sins.
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son [to die in your place], that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). “There is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men [mankind], the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:5).
Receive the risen Christ into your life by faith—trust Him as your Savior.
"God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him [Jesus Christ] is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God" (John 3:16-18). "As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name" (John 1:12).
Eternal life begins the moment you believe that only through Jesus can your sins be forgiven, and that eternal life only comes from God: "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).
God provides the Holy Spirit to help his children grow because he has good things planned for them. The Bible describes true believers as God’s "workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10).
"If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you" (Romans 8:11). That’s how the true meaning of Easter can make a difference in your life—now and forever! — GNB
What is Easter about? Greeting cards speak of "renewal," "the promise of spring," or even "God's love." To believers, however, these sentiments fall far short of the power and victory of Easter—Christ's resurrection from the dead.
Does it really matter if Christ rose from the dead? Some would argue it doesn't. But I submit to you that if Jesus didn't conquer death, Christianity is a lie. Without the Resurrection, the most eloquent sermon is empty; sin still holds us captive; and our faith is nothing more than wishful thinking (1 Cor. 15:13-14,17).
The Resurrection is a fact. Those who are not quite sure, and who do not trust the Bible story, can go to the library and investigate the records of the time written by Josephus, a Jewish historian. And for those of us who do believe the Bible is an accurate account of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have much to rejoice about.
For the past 50 years, our church, First Baptist Atlanta has produced a three-hour dramatic performance about the life of Jesus. Many of those years, the civic center has been sold out for all performances. It's the highlight of the Easter season for thousands of people. I enjoy it immensely. I think it gets better as the script is changed annually to give it diversity. But the basic script is still "The Greatest Story Ever Told." Each year it ends with the ascension of Jesus.
Each year as I sit there and anticipate the Resurrection scene, I feel as if I'm going to explode with excitement. I feel tense during the trial and the beating of Jesus. I get angry at the Roman soldiers (who are my church members!) as they yell at and hit our Savior. I am weary and sad during Gethsemane and the Crucifixion scenes. I am sometimes exhausted after those scenes because they seem so real to me.
Then, the music changes. The mood changes. Disciples and women are running across the stage looking for Jesus, wondering where His missing body could be. Women weep. Disciples shake their heads. Jesus' mother is pondering. I want to stand to my feet and shout, "He's risen, just as He said!" I never have said that, and I'm sure those around me are grateful. But I've wanted to.
The strangest feeling overtook me one year. As the disciples peered into the tomb and as angels hovered nearby and they cradled His folded grave-clothes in their hands, I wanted to get up and walk up on to the stage to look in the tomb, too. I knew it was empty, but I wanted to experience the thrill that those first disciples must have felt when they walked into the empty tomb. We can't imagine their despair and then their feeling of utter amazement and victory.
His resurrection assures our resurrection. There would still be the sting of death if He had remained dead. But He was the firstfruits of resurrection (1 Cor. 15:20). He paved the way for us.
Of course, we grieve when someone we love is taken in death. But we grieve differently from the way the world does. We do not grieve as those who have no hope (1 Thess. 4:13). We can look forward to a wonderful reunion someday with them and with the One who died—and lives—for us!
If He had remained dead, we would have nothing.
No hope. No faith. No comfort.
But we have a living Savior, who transcended the laws of death and smashed them forever.
A little girl took a caterpillar and put it in a metal box that once held Band-aids. She shut the lid tight to keep the caterpillar in and then went on her way, virtually forgetting about her wonderful catch. The caterpillar spun and a tight cocoon inside the box.
One day, when the girl was at school, her mother was cleaning her room. The mom opened the box to see what treasure the little girl had hidden. Out came a beautiful butterfly.
The mother closed the bedroom door tightly, so she could show this creation to the little girl when she came home. She could hardly wait. She met her daughter at the door and said, "Guess what! You've kind of become a mother!"
The child couldn't imagine what on earth her mother was talking about. But then the mother slowly opened her daughter's door and showed her the butterfly basking in the sunshine on the window sill.
Butterflies, although a beautiful illustration of new life emerging out of something seemingly dead, do not adequately portray the Resurrection. Jesus was not in some flimsy metal box. He was in a sealed tomb with guards standing nearby. He was wrapped in a cocoon of death, yet He broke free.
The stone was rolled away from the tomb, not so Jesus could get out but so the world could look in. His resurrection assures yours. Because He lives, you will live forever.
—Adapted from Dr. Charles Stanley’s Handbook for Christian Living, 1995, pp. 208, 213-214.
The wonderful message of the Bible is that Jesus lives!
After Jesus died on the cross, becoming the only sacrifice for sin, He rose triumphantly from the grave. Now He offers the free gift of eternal life to all who trust in Him.
“He is not here: for He is risen, as He said.” Matthew 28:6
“Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” John 11:25
“If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Romans 10:9 — MWTB
Because He Lives
BECAUSE JESUS CHRIST ROSE FROM THE DEAD, YOU CAN HAVE …
A LIVING SAVIOR – If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. Romans 10:9
A DIVINE MEDIATOR – Christ that died … is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Romans 8:34
AN UNDYING PROMISE – Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. John 11:25 — MWTB
Easter: The Day that Changed the World
The great German statesman Konrad Adenauer once said, "The most important thing in the world is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If Jesus is alive, then there is hope for the world. If He is still in the grave, then there isn't the slightest glimmer of hope on the horizon."
For three days the lifeless body of Jesus lay bound in the grave. With Him lay the aspirations of all who had followed Him. This man whom His disciples hoped to be the Messiah was brutally seized, tried, tortured and left to die upon a cross.
But on the third day, as He had prophesied, He arose to live, talk and show Himself again. His resurrection was the final proof of who He is and what He promised. "Because I live," He told the disciples, "you also will live" (John 14:19). It is God's stamp of approval of what Jesus accomplished on the cross. Our debt of sin has been paid; the door of Heaven has swung open.
The good news of Easter morning will speak throughout eternity. It says three tremendous things. First, God is. Second, God loves. Third, God acts. He is in control. Our sin had separated us from our Creator, but God Himself has provided the cure.
Today you can know the power of the resurrection in your own life by taking the following steps:
1. Recognize that without Christ you are separated from God. "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).
2. Realize that God loves you, and believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
3. Receive the risen Savior into your life by faith: "But as many as received Him, to them gave He the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name" (John 1:12). "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved" (Romans 10:9). — GNP
An Easter Tradition: Red Egg
The red egg is symbolic of the events of Christ's sacrifice on the Cross, His entombment, and finally, His breaking of the bondage of death by His Resurrection--all find a fitting expression in the red egg. The red color of the egg signifies the blood of Christ, its shell His three-day entombment, and its breaking, His Resurrection. With the cracking of the red eggs between two people, one says, "Christ is risen!" and the other responds, "Christ truly is risen!"
A Jewish man meets Jesus.
"The words of Jesus Himself, His uncompromising posture, His upright justice, His modesty, and His sacrificial love spoke into my heart as the irresistible hallmarks of the One and Only God of Israel. I couldn't stop falling in love with Him.
Paul Smethurst was a Christian I knew from high-school six years earlier. He had immigrated to London but happened to be