Christians around the world are celebrating Holy Week, which culminates with Easter Sunday, Resurrection Day.
The two biggest events on the Christian calendar are Christmas and Easter. For most cultures historically influenced by Christianity, including the U.S., Christmas is the bigger, social, cultural, and economic event.
It is often said that in America if you want to know what people think is really important, follow the money. In those terms, Christmas is the winner hands down. But for Christians who take their faith seriously, Easter is the culmination of all history.
As Christians we celebrate the birth of the Savior, God Incarnate, the Word made flesh. That's Christmas. But it must always be remembered that He was born to suffer and die for the sins of the world. "For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son that whosever believes in Him should not perish, but have life everlasting" (John 3:16).
As the Old Testament sacrificial system taught and as the New Testament declares in Hebrews, without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. To be our Savior and Lord, Jesus had to die. Jesus' prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane makes that clear. If there had been any other way to purchase mankind's salvation without compromising God's righteousness, God, the perfect Father, would have answered the perfect Son's prayer and let the cup of death pass from Him. A price had to be paid for sin, and Jesus paid it for us by sacrificing Himself on the cross.
But His death, while necessary, was not enough. Golgotha was required. Without the empty tomb, however, it would have been a tragic and meaningless death. As the Apostle Paul told us in 1 Corinthians, if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. But Jesus has been resurrected. "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is they victory? They have been swallowed up in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ."
Christmas is the beginning. Easter is the culmination — the joyous, happiest victorious ending. Jesus has conquered death for all who believe in Him and trust Him for salvation. Easter is supreme. He is risen. He is risen, indeed.
This is the true message of Easter — a love that was willing to come and die on the cross that we might be liberated from sin and condemnation and be resurrected to newness of life.
Have a joyous Easter Resurrection Day!