This weekend Christians celebrate Good Friday and Easter. Most of the populace probably have a general understanding that these holidays celebrate the death of Jesus Christ on a cross and His subsequent resurrection from the dead. Plenty can be said and argued on this point, but that’s not what’s in view for today’s post. I want to, in my own imperfect way, try and explain why Good Friday and Easter are so important not just for Christians but the whole world.
Of first importance is the fact that Jesus actually came. This is important because of who He is. He is God-in-flesh, a Savior promised from the beginning to bring righteousness and peace with God. He is the great revelation from God, giving us insight into much of God’s mind and heart. He lived a perfect life not in a material sense but spiritually. He followed the Law without error and accomplished what no other human has done or can do. He showed us a clear picture of a perfect relationship with God.
And He came as a human. Not an ape or a lion or an alien from outer space, but as a Man. There is value in that. It means that we can no longer claim that God doesn’t know what it’s like to face the things we face. He became flesh and dwelt among us. Jesus experienced many hardships and trials as a Man and He can relate to us perfectly in whatever circumstance we find ourselves. We can’t have Good Friday or Easter without His first coming.
He saw death. Not just any death, but a horrifically tragic death involving beatings, scourgings with whips, and crucifixion on a bloody cross. He had been tortured and murdered equally at the hands of the Jews who hated Him and the Romans who delighted in killing.
But for what? Why was it necessary for Jesus to die? Is it simply a tragic end to a promising life? For His disciples at the time, this was so. But Jesus knew a deeper purpose. The people thought He came to bring physical salvation from Rome, but on the cross He was paving the way for a greater salvation: freedom from sin in its power and effect. He hung on the cross as a sacrifice for many. For any who call on Him and believe on Him, His blood covers their sin. As the perfect Man, He was the perfect sacrifice. His suffering, His death, it was all for reestablishing humanity’s relationship with God after Adam broke it in the Garden of Eden. He saw death so we could see life.
But death was not the end of the Christ, though many would like to leave Him in the grave. Death could not hold Jesus, and on the first Easter Sunday He conquered the grave and arose. In the flesh, mind you, and not in some vague spiritual sense. He arose to the surprise and amazement of His own followers, who considered Him lost forever.
Why is this conquering so key? Because Jesus sets for us the pattern. He lived a holy life, His followers strive to live a holy life. He selflessly sacrificed Himself on the cross, His disciples selflessly “die to themselves” and forsake sin. He arose from the dead, His people will one day mirror Him and arise when He calls them. So His conquering of the grave brings a promise to His believers of a life eternal, in the flesh, with the sting of death powerless.
But this conquering also solidifies what He accomplished on the cross. It shows that He is the Christ, the Savior. God sent Him for this task and no one else. Christians have confidence in their salvation precisely because Jesus rose from the dead. It shows His power and authority; it’s a sign of promise for things to come. Easter is not about bunnies and colored eggs, it celebrates the greatest victory the world has ever seen.
This victory not only has been seen, but it impacts the whole world. No man in history has been so universally influential and controversial. No man has ever made such a sacrifice and return. No man has ever paid for our sin and opened a way for a relationship with God. No man has done these things except for Jesus. He is the Savior we Christians celebrate. For all these things He’s done, we bow in worship to Him. This is why Easter is so important to Christians.