Easter is the Christian celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It may seem unusual to celebrate a death, and if death had been the end of Jesus, there would be no celebration today. But Jesus defeated death and was raised from the dead. Easter Sunday is the day that Christians remember this and celebrate it. To understand what Easter is about, you need to know the following:
- The celebration of Easter falls on different dates in the western and eastern Christian churches. The method of calculating the date for Easter Sunday dates back to the Middle Ages. It was decided that Easter would be observed on the Sunday after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox. Since the two churches use different calendars the dates for Easter will differ. No matter what the date, however, all Christians are celebrating the same event - the resurrection of the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
- In the Bible, the story of Easter starts at what is known as the Last Supper. Jesus gathered his closest followers for the Passover dinner and announced that one of them would betray him.
- Jesus was betrayed by Judas Iscariot who handed him over to the Jewish leaders. The Jewish leaders charged Jesus with blasphemy and gave him to the Roman government. He was sentenced to death on the cross (Mark 14,15).
- Jesus was mocked, beaten, forced to carry his own cross, and ultimately nailed to the cross. He died and was buried in a tomb guarded by Roman soldiers (Mark 15). So far, this is not a cause for a celebration.
- However, on the third day the stone was found rolled away and Jesus' body was gone. This is the cause for celebration. Jesus had indeed died, but he was resurrected from the dead (Mark 16).
- Why is this resurrection so important to Christians? Because it is not only through Christ's death but also his resurrection that they know he is the Messiah, the promised deliverer and savior.
- Jesus' death on the cross was a sacrifice. He was sacrificed for the sins of all people. When he was resurrected he defeated that death and became the savior of all who believe in him. What does he save Christians from? They are saved from the consequences of sin-a broken relationship with God here on earth and eternal separation from him after death (Romans 6:23).
- This is why Christians find the events surrounding Jesus' death and resurrection a cause to celebrate and worship. Easter is the celebration of Jesus' death on the cross and his ultimate victory over all death.