So what is Easter all about? Here's a simple explanation of the resurrection of Jesus and why Christians celebrate Easter Sunday.
"Tell me about Easter," I said. "I don't know the story of Jesus." A best friend and I were talking in the wee hours before dawn on an Easter Sunday, we were drunk and hazy at the tail end of a house party on a Saturday night. My friend was raised Catholic, although I knew he had chosen paganism instead, I hoped that he'd be able to explain it to me.
You see, I wasn't raised in a family that had any religious affiliation. We weren't even atheist. We were just one messed up, dysfunctional family broken in every way possible. I didn't even know any Christians growing up. What would we have in common with goody two shoes like that? As kids, we loved the Easter baskets and the egg hunt, but Jesus was nowhere to be found.
He tried to explain to me that Jesus was crucified, died, and was resurrected on the third day. "What does resurrected mean?" I really didn't get it. He was a bit sloshy. So was I. Yet I really wanted to understand. He explained it meant that he rose from the dead, and truly I didn't understand that part. I thought it meant Jesus appeared in spirit form.
"What about the sins? I don't understand why people say he died for our sins." He took another drag on his cigarette and stumbled through an explanation that made no sense to me. I wondered what would Jesus think, if Jesus was real and listening to our conversation? Would he be glad that I was trying to understand or disgusted by us? In the end, I had no more understanding then than when the conversation started. That was over 20 years ago. Now I'm a born again Christian.
I'm going to try and explain the meaning of Easter for you as simply as I can. God is holy. God is love, justice and righteousness. God exists in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These three together are one God. Kind of like how a group of three individuals can make up one family.
God loves you, but God hates your sin. Even if you're a good person, you have not lived a perfect life -- and neither has anyone else. The mistake a lot of us make is that we compare our relative goodness by human standards. That's not how it works.
We are compared to the holiness of God. None of us has reached that standard. None, not even one. Your sin has separated you from God. The penalty for sin is death. But there's good news in God's justice system. Another life, one that is perfect, can be substituted for yours. And God loves you so much that his son left heaven and humbled himself to be born as a man, that he would be your substitute.
Jesus lived a sinless life and was convicted to die on a cross like a criminal. He didn't just suffer the emotional pain of betrayal and the physical pain of torture. Jesus bore the punishment of sin for you, me, and for all of mankind. The wrath of God was poured out upon him. He took it in our place. You see, God wouldn't be just if he allowed evil to go unpunished forever. But he loves you so much that he's giving you a way out. Jesus paid your sin debt. It's a debt that you can never repay on your own.
The gift of salvation is free. You don't earn it by being good or religious. You simply have to admit that you need it and accept the one who gives it...and that's Jesus. Just by accepting that Jesus died in your place, your sins will be forgiven and forgotten instantly and without any other preconditions.
You will be justified through God's law to receive eternal life. You will be reconciled to God. God's Holy Spirit will then indwell you. He is your seal until the day of judgment, your constant companion, and the one who sanctifies you, helping you live a more holy life day by day.
Once you are born again through the regenerating power of salvation, it's yours to keep even if you mess up, which you inevitably will, because Jesus death paid your debt in full for your entire lifetime.
Jesus performed many miracles during his time on Earth. Yet the greatest and boldest act of all was his resurrection.
They buried his battered and bloodied body in a guarded tomb, and everyone thought that was the end. Yet three days later, that tomb was found empty. Witnesses encountered Jesus alive, living in his glorified body. This wasn't an apparition. They could touch him. He ate with them. Our king conquered the grave.
Easter celebrates the day that Jesus conquered death. For us, it's proof that in him, those who believe shall also be resurrected and live forever. Praise God for Jesus's ultimate sacrifice and victory. May our coming king return soon.
God bless you. And I pray this helps lead you to the cross where your old life ends and your new one begins.