Every year, millions of people change their weekly routine to accommodate all the events that happen around Easter. Eggs must be dyed, baskets need filling, ham dinners are expected, and – if you go at all during the year – you gotta go to church for Easter.
But what are we celebrating? Pull away the eggs and the games, the chocolates and the bunnies…even take away the extra-special songs and skits that happen during a church’s Easter service – what, exactly, are we doing?
When you get right down to it, we are carving out one weekend of the year, every year, to commemorate one of the most bizarre claims in human history. And yet, this absurdity is claimed to be part of history. Not myth, not fairy tale, but a-human-being-really-did-this story.
Christians actually believe that a man (who claimed to be God in the flesh) died in a manner that has eternal, cosmic consequences. Christians believe that this man’s gruesome death on a wooden cross paid for every single sin the world has ever committed – past, present, and future. And if that wasn’t fantastical enough, the man who made all these claims is then said to have come back to life.
In his book “God in the Dock”, C.S. Lewis summed up the whole situation like this:
‘What are we to make of Christ?’ There is no question of what we can make of Him, it is entirely a question of what He intends to make of us. You must accept or reject the story.
The things He says are very different from what any other teacher has said. Others say, ‘This is the truth about the Universe. This is the way you ought to go,’ but He says, ‘I am the Truth, and the Way, and the Life.’ He says, ‘If you are ashamed of Me, if, when you hear this call, you turn the other way, I also will look the other way when I come again as God without disguise. If anything is keeping you from God and from Me, whatever it is, throw it away. If it is your eye, pull it out. If it is your hand, cut it off. If you put yourself first you will be last. Come to Me everyone who is carrying a heavy load, I will set that right. Your sins, all of them are wiped out, I can do that. I am Re-birth, I am Life. Eat Me, drink Me, I am your Food. And finally, do not be afraid, I have overcome the whole Universe.’ That is the issue.
Lewis was right. Based upon Jesus’ own words, there is no middle ground here. Writing to the believers in Corinth, the Apostle Paul put it this way:
1 Corinthians 15:13-19
If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation is in vain, and so is your faith. Moreover, we are found to be false witnesses about God, because we have testified wrongly about God that He raised up Christ…and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Those, then who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished.
If we have put our hope in Christ for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone.
Either Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection means nothing, or it is the most important moment in all of human history. There is no in-between. The big question for each of us is the same one Jesus asked Martha:
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live. Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”
Either it matters, or it doesn’t.