- What is the significance of Easter, why does Easter matter? Where did the Easter bunny come from, and how does any of this relate to the resurrection of Christ?
Why all the buzz about Easter? I’d venture a guess that the majority of Americans can ask Siri, or their equivalent internet encyclopedic android companion, and get the generic answer in less than 15 seconds. But what is the real significance of the resurrection of Christ? An amazing feat no doubt, but why does this feat transcend the exaltation of the single man? Why is it so important to you and I? And further…what about the questions we are less likely to know the answers to…like where did the easter bunny come from? Why does he hide eggs? And what does that have to do with Jesus Christ? Just what exactly are we celebrating, and beyond the celebration, what is our role in all of this?
How The Easter Bunny Came About
A little more searching led me to the story of the Easter Bunny. I found this all fascinating…apparently in medieval Europe it was believed that the hare was hermaphroditic…no kidding…and could reproduce without a loss of virginity. The combination of the high level of fertility of rabbits, who actually…truly are…able to conceive a second time when they are already pregnant, and the belief they could conceive without mating at all, led to an association with birth, new birth, and with the Virgin Mary. Additionally, a commonly used symbol in the medieval era was the Three Hares Motif. This is a circular symbol of three hares chasing one another. These three hares represent the Holy Trinity, and the equal and synergistic relationship of the “One in Three and Three in One” Holy Triune. Thus…the Easter Bunny.
So, granted… we know that Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Christ, but where does this become so important to us in our walk as Christians? I found the answer…while elaborate enough to fill books for over 2000 years, is also summed up incredibly simply in the Bible. The apostle Paul sums it up in 1 Corinthians 15:14 as thus …if Christ has not been raised, (If he merely lived a perfect life, performed many miracles, and died on the cross as a martyr….then) our preaching is useless and so is your faith.
The Importance of the Resurrection
If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. You see…this is where the rubber hits the road for us as believers…if death entered the world as a result of sin…but Christ living a sinless life still resulted in death…and if Christ did not rise, and did not ascend into heaven… then in God’s redemption story sin, death, and Satan would have proven dominion over Christ. And when Christ promised (John 11:25)… “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die,” – if he was not risen from the tomb…we would be putting our faith and eternal hopes in a dead man. But…even though the serpent plotted, and struck the heel of the Son of Man, God the Father…orchestrating all events to work together for good…used the evil work of men to crush the serpents head once and for all. Because on that first Easter morning, when Christ rose from the grave, the Man who told us He is the Way and the Truth and the Life, fully established His dominion over death…fully established that he is the life…and proved once and for all that His promises are real. His promises can be trusted, and our faith is not in vain. His resurrection is the foundation of our hope…and our hope is not of something we can earn ourselves, but our hope is in the redemptive work of Him.
Who is The Christ?
So just who is the risen Christ? Is he the earthly Christ…a man? A carpenter? Is he a walking rabbi traversing the Roman countryside healing the sick and performing miracles? No. He is the glorified Lord, the second of the Holy Triune, the sovereign judge seated in Heaven at the right hand of the Father. He is as Revelation 1:8 tells “…the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” … “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” And how does the crucified and resurrected Christ appear now? 1 Corinthians 15 tells us there is an earthly body from dust, and there is a spiritual body, (1 Corinthians 15:49),and just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man. Christ no longer bears the image of an earthly man. He now bears the image of the Heavenly Father. When the Apostle John was carried by The Spirit to receive the message of the risen Christ in Revelation he saw the (1:13) son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest.
14 The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. 15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.
Hebrews 4:12 explains of the double edged sword…the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. And Revelation 22:5 says of the Lord shining in all his brilliance…in the new heaven 5 There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will be the light. If Christ is the Word, as the Gospel of John declares, and light is life, then our risen saviour is now, much more than a meager earthly rabbi. He is the sovereign Lord…the reborn, regenerated, Almighty Son of God…powerful to judge and fit to save.
Let Us Rejoice and Color Eggs!
So now that we have the affirmed assurances of our Lord – His dominion over death, His saving grace, His sovereign power. What now? What do we do, beyond share a meal and color Easter eggs?
Number 1, we follow. Following Christ is definitely not the easy way. On the surface it doesn’t appear to be the fun way. Having lived both ways to both extremes, I can tell you that for me, that’s a complete misnomer. Sometimes following Christ is hard. Sometimes we don’t always get every answer we want when we want it. As followers we know we stand in the judgment of the world. We are constantly faced with the fear of not being accepted for what we know in our hearts is true. We also know that someday we may be persecuted for standing up for who we believe in. Many Christians through history have faced tremendous challenges and struggle. Hundreds of thousands, or more…have been put to brutal deaths to make it possible for us to share the Good News that we are sharing today. Just for you and I to be able to own Bibles. This holiday celebrates a gift that was bought with blood. First, the Son of God’s…then hundreds of thousands of His followers…and someday maybe even our own. The temptation of Satan can seem appealing. Sometimes on the surface this temptation doesn’t even appear evil. (Luke 4) A loaf of bread for a starving man, in a desert, at the end of a 40 day fast seems good on its surface, but not when its origins are in temptation and evil. After tempting Christ with bread, Satan offered to make Jesus the King of all the World if he would simply bend a knee before him. His offer would allow Christ to bypass the world’s ridicule, and bypass the torment of the cross and be immediately exalted. But Christ knew exaltation is not to come from Satan (Luke 4:8), but each of us has a call to purpose, and His call in God’s redemption plan was to suffer for you and I. And we see that even God’s own son suffered. And so we are called to understand…(Proverbs 14:12) there is a way to men that seems right, but in the end it leads to death. (Matthew 7:13) Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, but small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life. Only a few will find it. Our calling is to be like Christ. (Philippians 1:29) It has been granted as a gift, on behalf of Christ, that not only do we believe in Him, but also we suffer for Him. (Romans 8:28) For we know that God makes all things work together for the good of those who love Him, those He has called to His purpose and created to do the good works that He prepared in advance for us to do. (1 Thessalonians 5:18) So we should be joyful in all circumstances, for each moment is God’s will for us in Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 12:7) Endure hardship as discipline for God treats us as his children. While no discipline seems pleasant at the time…while painful…it later produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. So follow…go forth without fear and live God’s will for you. (Psalm 33:5) For the Lord loves the righteous and the earth is full of His unfailing love. (Psalm 37:23) He directs the steps of the Godly and delights in every detail of their lives.
Second…We rejoice! Rejoice! Trust in then Lord for freedom is found in Him. (Matthew 11:30) His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Rejoice, because on this day we know Christ did what He said He would do. He is risen. So when we break the bread and drink the wine, we remember the sacrifice that he made for us….and when we hide our Easter eggs we need to realize why we paint eggs at Easter. From eggs springs forth new life. The egg is symbolic of the tomb which held The Life, and the empty egg shell is symbolic that He has risen from the Tomb. Easter is the celebration and the egg is the the symbol of Jesus’ fulfilled promise. Just as he said He would, Jesus Christ conquered the grave and overcame evil…and because of Him, so shall we. Just like Christ, each of us, having been reborn of the Spirit by placing our faith in Him, has been born into new life in Christ.
The Lord’s Supper/Communion
For over 1200 years before the coming of the Messiah, the Jews celebrated their biggest holiday, the Passover, with the traditional meal. The first Passover meal was eaten on the eve of the Exodus, when the Lord sent the final plague on Egypt. The Angel of Death was sent as a judgment upon Egypt to kill all first born males in the land. The Israelites were instructed to mark the door frames of their homes with the blood of an unblemished spring lamb. In performing this demonstration of their faith in the Lord’s instruction, the angel of the Lord knew to pass over the first-born sons in these homes. Hence the name…Passover. The next day, The Jews were on the move, Moses parted the Red Sea, and the Israelites escaped the bondage of their Egyptian oppressors. The Exodus story is not just the Jews deliverance story…it is the physical representation of the Christians’ spiritual deliverance story. And…it was at this sacred Passover meal that God’s unblemished Lamb, His sinless son Jesus Christ, would have His Last Supper.
(Luke 22:14-16) And 14 When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”
In John chapter 6 (35) …Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. (51) I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
(Luke 22:19) Then, He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
In Leviticus 17 The Lord said to Moses… (11) the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.’ (Matthew 26:27-28) Then (Jesus) took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins.
The following Day Christ was crucified, and by evening he was in the tomb. God sacrificed His perfect lamb to atone for the sin of all who lay aside themselves to follow Him. He painted the door frames of all believers hearts’ with the Lamb’s blood, and sealed the protection of all His children from eternal death. This is our deliverance from the bondage of sin, and our deliverance from the death that comes from sin. And for new life we celebrate the glory of our risen Savior!
Chad W. Hussey is an average Jesus loving iconoclastic non-conformist neighborhood hope dealer – a husband, father, urban missionary, community group leader, Master of Divinity student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Community Life Intern at Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, KY.