History of Easter

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History of Easter 1
The History of Easter

Easter is the principal festival of the Christian faith.

Surprised?

I bet you thought it was Christmas, huh? Nope!

While Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus, Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus on the third day after his crucifixion and burial. It is, therefore, considered the principal feast. Why? Because, without the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Christian "faith" would be in vain (more about that later).


History of Easter 2

History of Easter -- What It's Not

Notice I said Christian "faith," not "religion."

Why?

Religion is, by definition, man-centered. It usually involves a set of "dos" and "don’ts" in the hope (without any assurance) that somehow our "pluses" will be greater than our "minuses" when we die in order that we might reach heaven. It is man’s way of trying to get to heaven without God. It never succeeds.

Why? Read on . . .

Christianity, on the other hand, is God-centered. God loves us, despite our sin and rebellion against him. Because of our fallen, sinful nature, he knew we could never make our "pluses" outweigh our "minuses."

God is holy and cannot be in the presence of sin. Sin has to be punished, because it is evil. The wages (punishment) of sin is death. Prior to the fall of man in the garden, death was non-existent. Death came into the world because of man’s rebellion against God. Every human being is sinful. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. [God’s words, not mine].

So, because he loves us so much and didn’t want to be without us, he sent his only son, Jesus (fully God and fully human, but sinless), to die on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. If by "faith" you receive Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, and turn your life over to him, then you receive, by the grace (undeserved gift) of God, redemption (your account is marked “paid” and your sin account is canceled). It is this "faith" in the redeeming power of Jesus that allows you to enter heaven and have fellowship with God for all eternity. God gave us his assurance by giving us Jesus.

Ever hear the old Gospel hymn Blessed Assurance? The words go: Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine, O what a foretaste of glory divine.

No “religion” offers this iron clad assurance. It's religion (man centered) versus Faith in God (God centered). See the difference?


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The History of Easter

The celebration of the resurrection of Jesus is probably the oldest observance in the Christian faith, other than the observance of the Sabbath (the 7th day of creation and the day of rest). As the faith developed, the Sabbath came to be regarded (and still is) as a weekly celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus rose from the dead on a Sunday morning; therefore, the weekly celebration of his resurrection was moved to Sunday.

Jesus is both fully God and fully man (e.g. human). His life and ministry were the fulfillment of God's promise to restore humans to their rightful place after the fall of man in the garden. Those promises are contained throughout the entire Bible (Old and New Testaments). God is always as good as his Word. Jesus is the Word of God.

God wasn't doing a new thing and creating a new “religion” with Jesus. Jesus was there in the beginning creating everything along with God and the Holy Spirit. All three (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) have been present throughout the history of mankind. This is the concept of the Triune God or the “Three in One.” Christian’s don’t worship three “gods,” just one God in three persons. I can’t explain it any better than that (and neither can the theologians – it’s a mystery).

When God discerned the time was right, he sent Jesus into the world for our sake to redeem us.


History of Easter 4

Some Background on the History of Easter

Jesus was born into a Jewish family. Throughout his life on earth and during the 3 years of his earthly ministry, Jesus observed all Jewish customs and holidays including the “Pascha” or “Passover.” The Passover was (and still is) a Jewish festival remembering the time God “passed over” the Jews and spared their first born from the plague that killed all the first born in the land of Egypt.

The Jews were instructed to slay a lamb and put the blood on their door posts and lintels (e.g. door frame) so that the Angel of Death would know to “pass over” them. Because of this plague, the Egyptians finally released the Jews from slavery and sent them out of their land (known as the Exodus). This was a foreshadowing (God’s show and tell) of what Jesus (the Lamb of God) would do by shedding his blood for us centuries later.


History of Easter 5

History of Easter -- the Eucharist or Mass

On the night before he was betrayed and crucified, Jesus observed the Pascha/Passover with his disciples one last time. He took the bread and wine and blessed them. He told his disciples that the bread represented his body broken for them and the wine was his blood shed on their behalf (which took place the following day when he was crucified). He instructed them to continue to observe the feast in remembrance of him (Eucharist or Mass).

Because Jesus (who was sinless) voluntarily shed his blood and died on our behalf (Good Friday), paying the penalty for our sin, we are freed from slavery (living a sinful life displeasing to God and permanent death – death of the spirit). Sin and death no longer have control over us. That is why Jesus is referred to as the “Pascal Lamb” of God who takes away the sin of the world.


History of Easter 6

History of Easter -- The Resurrection

After his death, Jesus was placed in a borrowed tomb. The tomb was sealed and guarded by Roman soldiers. However, on the third day, God raised Jesus from the dead (despite all of man’s attempts to prevent it). He was subsequently seen alive by many thousands of eye-witnesses, including his disciples. He was not a ghost, but had a physical body that could eat, talk, walk and be touched.


History of Easter 7

History of Easter -- Ascension

Prior to returning to heaven (Ascension), Jesus told his disciples to continue the work he began until his promised return (at a date and time yet to be specified by God the Father that even he does not know). He told them to return to town until they received the “gift from on high” from the Father (the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on all believers).


History of Easter 8

History of Easter -- Gifts Promised

After his Ascension, the promised gift was received by all believers in Jesus on the day known as Pentecost. The disciples (meaning students) were now referred to as the apostles (those who are sent). They were sent to tell the entire world about Jesus and what he did (the Great Commission). They were commanded to baptize those who accepted Jesus as their Savior.

Why?

Jesus desires everyone be rescued and escape the slavery of sin and death, and have a relationship with God here on earth and forever for all eternity.

Jesus promised that, in the interim between his ascension and his return (Second Coming), he would be preparing a place for his people. When the time was right, Jesus promised he would come again and take his people (those who believe in him and what he did) to be with him forever.


History of Easter 9

History of Easter -- Importance

While it is important that Jesus was born, it is more important that he paid the price for our sins so that our relationship with God could be restored and we can be with him always. That is why, without the crucifixion and resurrection, we would still be dead to God and a slave to our sins.

The resurrection of Jesus is proof that we are no longer under the dominion of death and the power of sin. We are now alive in God because of what Jesus did. Jesus’ resurrection was proof that those who have faith in him will be raised in glory and power with a spiritual body like his. Prior to his ascension, Jesus showed us what a resurrected, everlasting body looked like and gave us his final instructions. That is why I said earlier that, without the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, the Christian "faith" would be in vain. The history of Easter is the most important thing!

Remember, history is only "His story!"

While many cultural historians might claim that Christianity is a new religion that super-imposed it’s holidays over so-called “older” pagan religions, let me state emphatically --- “Baloney!” The first four words of any Christian Bible say: “In the beginning, God . . .” it doesn’t get any older than that!

I’m not a theologian and, hopefully, I explained the history of Easter so you can understand it. If you would like to explore these ideas further, you can go to the following websites for more information:

Not Religion or Need Him

Hallelujah He is Risen! The Lord is Risen indeed. Hallelujah!

Happy Easter and God bless!

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