What is the real meaning of Easter

 

With Dr. Pastor Kyama Mugambi

We often associate Easter with a time to go to the malls, have a party-bashing road trip or just sit at home and binge watch a compelling TV series during that long weekend. What really is the significance of this holiday weekend for us.

Easter should also be a time of remembering again what Christianity means. It is a time of celebration, but it is also a time for thoughtful gratitude.

Imagine that you are about to cross a road, suddenly a rogue driver loses control of his car and the car is heading straight for you. A stranger on the side of the road, sees that your life is endangered and he jumps forward and pushes you away into safety but he falls in front of the car to his death. Your life is saved but at a cost to his. I know this is dramatic and happens only in the movies, but imagine it for a moment. That day is possibly etched in your mind forever as a second birthday, because you could have died, but someone else died on your behalf. You celebrate life, but also have a profound realisation that it came at a cost.

That imagined road incident is similar to what happened during Easter – a weekend in the year when Christians celebrate the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in what is called the Holy week or Passion week.  A unique celebration to mark Jesus accomplishing His mission of reconciling man to God (2 Cor 5:11-21). He did this by taking the consequences of sin (that is death) upon himself so that everyone who believes in Him can have the gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23). The events of the Passion week ending on Sunday proved that Jesus comes from God the Father. The dramatic proof validating this was the power displayed by resurrecting Jesus from death on Sunday morning (Ephesians 1:20). Easter inspires us to live fruitfully, purposefully and victoriously, because, through death and resurrection, Jesus overcame death, the biggest obstacle that we will ever face (1 Cor 15:55-58).

Why is Good Friday called good?

 

Friday is the day Jesus was crucified. It sounds ironic to call it good, if the main event of the day was the torture, crucifixion and the painful death of our Lord. We call it good even though through this terrible act of suffering, God demonstrated His love for us, so that our sin will be taken by Jesus, and the punishment of eternal separation from God removed for those who believe (Rom 5:8). The goodness of the Friday is really in what that death, and the eventual resurrection means for us. Easter Sunday, sometimes called Resurrection Sunday is the day when Jesus resurrected and appeared to several of the apostles.

A point to note here is that the word Easter doesn’t actually mean resurrection, it has to do with the fact that it is celebrated at the beginning of the spring season in Europe. It is interesting that the story of Christ’s act of love is so powerful that it swallowed the original meaning of the word, and now we associate it with the events that brought us eternal life.

How should we celebrate it?

 

Easter is in many ways this kind of joyful celebration and thoughtful reflection. We can celebrate Easter with family gatherings, food, fun and laughter. After all, Easter is about God’s love for us all, which even makes love for our family and friends possible.

Many Christians over the years have opted for thoughtful Lent period reflection during Easter to taking 40 days before it to pray, fast, and reflect on God’s amazing act of love.  There are other ways to commemorate the period as well such as singing Easter songs, watching movies about the Passion week, or sharing communion in small groups or church. Still others do a night of prayer on Good Friday to remember the events of that fateful night. Some churches do a re-enactment of the crucifixion story on Friday. One of my favourites, in addition to spending time with family, is to find a peaceful quiet place to reflect for an hour on that great sacrifice. Whichever way you choose, the key thing is to remember what Easter is all about.

In this way, Easter is an annual reminder of these very basic, but important things that define who a Christian is. One of the best summaries of who we are as Christians is the Apostles’ Creed. This is a simple faith statement that Christians have recited regularly for hundreds of years from a few decades after the first Easter until today. Did you know that Easter is so important for our understanding of the faith that, out of the eighteen lines of the Apostle’s Creed a third are about Easter?

The Apostles Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty,

creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,

born of the Virgin Mary,

suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, died, and was buried;

he descended to the dead.

On the third day he rose again;

he ascended into heaven,

he is seated at the right hand of the Father,

and he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy catholic Church,

the communion of saints,

the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body,

and the life everlasting.

Amen.

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Nairobi, Kenya
(+254) 720-051763
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