I’m going to guess just about every person writing about Easter on the face of the earth covered it pretty well! I don’t think that’s so much a bad thing as a rather stock problem with the whole of the holiday: there’s not much to talk about for the Christian. Say what? Yes, I went there. As far as I am concerned, the holiday of Easter strikes me as little more than a Hallmark day – you know, the kind of event that brings family together for little more than being a day where people buy eggs and an Easter bunny wanders into a room. It’s confusing, to say the least, and the constant references to fertility (just think about the connection between all these secular Easter symbols and that becomes clear rather quickly) also associated with the resurrection of Christ.
As a kid, you just sorta accept that bunnies and tiny chickens and gifts (gifts!) and egg hunting somehow represent Christianity in some way. Now, though, it’s just plain weird. As Josh said on the previous podcast, it’s more to do with some ancient fertility rituals than anything out of the Bible. Yes, you could associate new birth with these pagan symbols, but it cannot capture the true essence of the thing.
I do not need some arbitrary calendar mark to tell me what I should do. Not at all! As a Christian, I do not worship Christ selectively, nor does the special day magically happen. Resurrection occurs all the time, in myriad ways and forms. People find Jesus and they are “born again”, as we say in our vernacular. People die in the flesh, die in Christ, and find themselves reborn in the spirit. When they die, they will be raised again in a new physical body. What better thing could possibly occur than the spiritual rebirth and subsequent training in discipleship?
Could I focus on Christ’s sacrifice right about now? Surely I could! But the substitutionary atonement isn’t why Christians celebrate Easter. It is the promise of resurrection that Paul continually proclaims in his words from 1 Corinthians 15:
Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; 7 then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles;8 and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
12 Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. 15 Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; 17 and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.
The Order of Resurrection
20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. 21 For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, 24 then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be abolished is death. 27 For He has put all things in subjection under His feet. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. 28 When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.
29 Otherwise, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them? 30 Why are we also in danger every hour? 31 I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 32 If from human motives I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, what does it profit me? If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. 33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” 34 Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God.I speak this to your shame.
35 But someone will say, “How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?” 36 You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; 37 and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own. 39 All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.
42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So also it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living soul.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. 47 The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. 48 As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.
The Mystery of Resurrection
50 Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, andwe will be changed. 53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.54 But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; 57 but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.
(apologies for quoting the whole chapter, but it’s way too relevant not to do so!)
The Protestant in me says that the tradition and ceremony regarding Christ’s resurrection (and ours as well) do not do a thing in making it more real and more apparent than the every day. Tradition reminds, but it only goes so far in that direction; to truly believe in Christ does not allow for the instance of forgetting the fact of the resurrection for a single moment. Perhaps that is where we go wrong so often: we localize something incredibly important into a single instance; we abandon some good habit and lead ourselves astray. What I mean to say is: celebrate Easter and resurrection every day, and not just in the idea of one singular resurrection. Believe that you, too, will be resurrected in the end, whether physically or spiritual. To deny it is to deny Christianity’s most important tenet.
So by that marker, Happy Easter!