This week Christians around the world will pour into churches to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the singular event that has affected history more than any other event.
Had Jesus not risen from the tomb, his followers would have disbanded, his message would have been forgotten, and he would have been dubbed a fraud by the leaders in Rome. Pontius Pilate's belief that he would be forgotten within the week would have been true and as a result, the history of the world would be vastly different.
However, He did rise from the tomb. The crucifixion had taken place at Golgotha on Friday in front of a multitude of followers and detractors. His body had been beaten and nailed to the cross, which up to that time was the instrument of killing by the leaders of the area. His body was laid in a borrowed tomb and sealed with a rock or boulder to ensure the odors would not be a problem. A very trusted guard was assigned to make sure nobody, but nobody, would steal the body.
Rome had heard of the prophesy that Jesus would rise from the dead and since he was known by many for performing miracles, one of which being that of raising Lazarus from the dead, made Rome a bit nervous to say the least. The government couldn't take the chance that a follower of Jesus would steal the body and begin a myth that Jesus had "risen."
Imagine that guard's reaction when the boulder moved from within and Jesus was no longer dead; and the tomb was now empty.
Easter is the most important holiday in the Christian year. Christmas comes in second but the two are tied together because without Easter and the resurrection, there would be zero reasons to celebrate Christmas. Had Jesus not been born to Mary, there could never have been the crucifixion so we celebrate the joy of both events.
Even today, many question whether or not Jesus is the Son of God and I am not going to enter into the debate. I consider myself to not being a "great man of faith" but rather a "man of great faith." There is a difference to be sure. Many want to argue about the miracles performed by Jesus from changing water into wine, healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, curing lepers, causing the lame to walk, walking on water, and feeding 5,000 folks with two fish and a little bread. I tell people about the empty tomb and frankly that is pretty much it for me. The great news of Easter morning is that Jesus rose from the dead.
His death on the cross was to die for our sins. He died for each of us. He died for me. Say that a few times to yourself. "He died for me." That is why the day of his death is called Good Friday. It was good for us.
So Easter Sunday comes following the 40 days of Lent during which the faithful pray and fast, and study and devote themselves to their faith in preparation for the joyous Easter morning service.
Easter moves about each year because it is tied to the lunar calendar. Easter is determined in a complicated and yet simple cycle.
Easter Sunday is the first Sunday following the first full moon following the Vernal Equinox. The celebration has nothing to do with bunnies or eggs but with celebrations of joy at the singular event of Jesus rising from the Tomb.
So this Sunday many will gather to celebrate the resurrection at Sunrise services such as the one held annually at E.C.C.O beginning at 6 a.m. or at any one of the local churches in the area. No reservations are required and they will have a seat waiting just for you. If you are new to the area, it is a great day to connect with a church. If you have fallen away from your church, it is a great day to start at another church or to renew your past connection with your church. The building won't fall down when you enter and people won't bawl you out for having been absent. The priests and pastors will thank God you came and they will make you feel welcome.
Our community has had its share of troubles of late, and families are hurting from losses and illness, and children are watching their parents marriages crumble around them. People are facing problems and they are struggling for answers. The people of each church will pray with you and they will share the good news of the Bible with you and it may be just the help you need.
So my friends, the good news for all of us are that His death was for you and the tomb was empty. Happy Easter. He is Risen.