One claim that sets Christianity apart from every other major religion is that its main prophet is still alive. No other religion can make this claim. How can this be, since that major prophet walked the earth over 2000 years ago and was crucified publicly? Answer: on the third day He rose again, what we call the Resurrection.
Jesus, true God in every sense of the word, was also true man. He became man to live among us and be our Savior. And while the world crucified Him for one reason (a trumped-up charge of blasphemy), God the Father in heaven had something else in mind that His Son should die – that being the blame of all our sins heaped upon His shoulders, to pay God’s judgment price, and on the third day to rise and live again and ascend into heaven and take His seat at the Father’s right hand. Joined to Jesus’ saving work through our baptism, we live in the certain hope of the resurrection, that we too will be with Jesus in heaven.
The events of Holy Week, culminating in Easter Sunday mark the most important events in mankind’s history – remembering the resurrection, when Jesus defeated sin, death and the devil. Yet we often forget how crucial the resurrection was (and is). Let us look at this with the question: what if the resurrection was not true, or didn’t really happen? If Jesus was not resurrected, Jesus is not alive, and our prayers through Him are in vain. If Jesus was not resurrected, He died for His own sins, and we are still in ours, and we live in false hope of our own eternity. If Jesus was not resurrected, then He was only a man, and not true God. If Jesus was not resurrected, then all Christianity crumbles, as everything about this religion rises or falls on the resurrection being true, and the Bible would be in error, a lie, and nothing therein could be trusted. If Jesus was not resurrected, then we are to be most pitied, as our faith would be false.
Yet we believe in the Resurrection of Jesus, and the resurrection of souls. Holy Scripture is infallible, as it is God’s Holy Word to us. Jesus’ crucifixion was a public event; people saw Him die. On the following Sunday, the empty tomb was verified. And the resurrected Jesus was seen by all His disciples, other followers, and on one occasion, by more than 500 people. Jesus was (and is) resurrected, more than true man, a mere man, but true God, the second member of the Trinity. And as such His death and resurrection assures death is defeated, our sins are forgiven, and we have eternal life in Jesus’ name.
This is our joy at Easter, our reason for celebration, a remembrance of the most important week in our lives. Before you commemorate the day with baskets, brightly colored eggs and a ham dinner, remember the true reason for this holy day, and the reason for your own hope for eternity — the true resurrection of Christianity’s major prophet, priest and king- Jesus Christ our Lord.
As every Sunday is a “mini-Easter” you can celebrate with our churches any time: St. Paul Lutheran Church in Fredonia (672-6731), Immanuel Lutheran Church in Gowanda (532-4342) and Trinity Lutheran Church in Silver Creek (934-2002).