by John Randerson
We devote a massive amount of time, energy, and money to put on a spectacular Christmas event. It is one of the highlights of the year for us, and a major drawcard for the community. But Easter is not a major event for us. Our numbers will be up since there is a tradition in the West for people to go to church on Easter Sunday. But how will this particular day be more than just another Sunday? What about Good Friday? Or the season of Lent? I believe Easter is the most important event in history, and way more significant than Christmas. I’m not talking about bunnies, chickens and chocolate eggs, but about how Jesus procured our salvation and our eternal destiny!
On Good Friday we need to reflect on the tragic events of that day. The fate of humanity resting on the shoulders of Jesus who sweat blood as he drew the courage to endure the humiliation and pain of crucifixion. John chapters 18 & 19 tell the story of that day. Reading and meditating on those verses brings what Jesus did into focus for us, and prepares us for the miracle of resurrection on Easter Sunday.
What does the Bible tell us about Christmas and Easter? We will ignore the well-known fact that Jesus was most certainly not born on December 25th, and the less well-known fact that the wise men could not have been part of the manger scene. Some traditions just can’t be messed with!
But only two of our four Gospels tell us about the birth of Jesus—Matthew and Luke. Mark and John set out to prove that Jesus is the son of God by what he did during his ministry years, and by his death and resurrection. The miraculous birth of Jesus is not part of their story. In contrast, all four Gospels devote a huge amount of space to the last week of Jesus’ life. 26% to be precise. How much space does the Christmas story get—3%!
Paul sums up the Gospel in just a few words in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4:
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (NIV).
Paul then goes on to make the case that if Jesus was not physically raised from the dead then our faith is a waste of time, and Christians are a bunch of losers deserving only the world’s pity. The birth of Jesus is not even a part of his argument.
I am no Grinch! I love Christmas and love our celebration of it. But Easter reminds me that my faith rests on what Jesus accomplished on the cross and then consummated by rising from the dead! Death has lost its sting! Satan loses!
Hallelujah, Christ is risen indeed!