04 April 2012

The Meaning of Easter

Easter is celebrated the world over to commemorate the resurrection of our Lord. Some religious groups prefer not to call it Easter for reasons that I completely understand.

You see, the most widely accepted origin of Easter is taken from a 6th and 7th century scholar known as the father of English History. Whether the origin that he suggested was made up or true is not certain.

In one of his books he says that Easter was actually a month named after a goddess, a month which is our April equivalent. The feasts celebrated in the goddess’s honor in that month were forgotten with the passage of time and replaced with the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection as we know it today and this two or so centuries after Christ’s ascension.

This explains the apprehension that some have today with calling it 'Easter'.

Galatians 3 offers at least three things that Easter means to a Christian. It shows us that Jesus’ died to redeem us from a curse. That he did this to fulfill a promise He made to Father Abraham. And that He did all this out of no duty but rather by His grace.

Easter means that we are children of Abraham. God promised Abraham several things. The promise to Abraham that he would have as many children or offspring as the stars in the sky is particularly significant. That promise was God's way of opening the door for non-Jews like me and you. Paul tells us in Galatians that that promise facilitated Abraham’s spiritual children, children who did not fall in his genealogical line but children that live like Abraham-those who live by faith. Hence the song:
Father Abraham had many sons,
Many sons had father Abraham
I am one of them, and so are you
So let’s all praise the Lord!

Let me put it this way, when Abraham looks down on this earth and sees Jews who are his natural descendants and sees you who is not, he feels a much stronger attachment and connection, a stronger affinity and bond to you. And even though, you do not share blood, you do not fall in his ancestry, even though you look nothing like him, he recognizes you as his very own because you live like him, you live by faith!

And that was Jesus' point in John 8 when He told the Jews that if they held on to His teaching they would know the truth and be set free. "Free?" They asked, "We have never been slaves. We are children of Abraham." They treasured their ancestry you see. Verse 39 says,

"Abraham is our father," they answered. "If you were Abraham's children," said Jesus, "then you would do the things Abraham did." ~John 8:39.
You can almost picture Abraham watching down from heaven, jaw dropped, seeing the descendants of his beloved son Isaac reject the Son of God and turn his face away in disgust. Then he sees you and I accept Jesus, coming to Him empty handed, just as we are. We can almost hear Him echo Jesus' words, "My real children are those who live as I lived."

Those who have faith like Abraham are his real children and they are blessed along with Abraham. The opposite of a blessing is a curse. Easter means we are blessed. We are given salvation freely and escape the curse that anyone else that refuses this free gift are under, that of earning salvation by living a perfect life. It is a curse because no one can live a perfect life. Paul calls this redemption from the curse of the law saying that Jesus redeemed us from this curse by being cursed Himself.

Finally Easter means God’s grace. This comes out clearly in verse 18 of Galatians 3. God did not have to promise Abraham anything. He did it by his grace. He extended the blessing of redemption to you and I who are unnatural children of Abraham not because He had to but because of His grace. He chose that the way through which this promise would be extended to us be by Christ redeeming us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us not because He had to but because of His grace.