What is Easter?
Easter Sunday is the largest religious celebration in the world. On Easter billions of people around the globe commemorate the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Some claim that Easter is nothing more than Christians making the pagan holiday devoted to the worship of the fertility goddess Eostre about Jesus. In reality, the name Easter is derived from old Anglo-Saxon and Germanic words used to describe the opening of springtime. The word ‘Easter’ doesn’t so much describe the nature of the holiday so much as it describes the time of year that the holiday is celebrated.
With that cleared up, the principle question remains: what is the big deal about Easter? Why is the holiday commemorating Jesus’s bodily resurrection the Super Bowl of Christian celebrations? The Apostle Paul provides two answers to this most central question.
First, without Jesus’s resurrection, Christianity is useless. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied (1 Corinthians 15:17-19). If Jesus hasn’t been raised, then he was either a lunatic to be ignored or a liar to be vilified. Christianity without the resurrection is powerless and useless.
Secondly, with Jesus’s resurrection we have unshakeable hope forever. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep (1 Corinthians 15:20). When Paul says that Jesus is the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep, he means that since Jesus rose from the dead, all who put their hope in Jesus will surely rise to everlasting life. The resurrection changes everything! Jesus is risen. In Him we have hope forever!