Jesus Is Risen. What Is Easter to You?

By Pr Ay Nee Ng

What is Easter to You?
Easter is a celebration of hope, joy, and assurance of life because we have a living Saviour. It is the celebration of our resurrected Lord Jesus Christ! Easter Sunday is the day of rejoicing of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead that follows the sorrow of Good Friday when Jesus died on the cross for our sins.

He Rose on the Third Day. Who? Jesus Christ
“By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve” (1 Cor. 15:2-5).

It was promised in Isaiah 53:3-5, which says: “He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed”.

This is humanity’s turning point from destruction to glory and salvation. WOW! We can be saved and have hope! It bears witness to God’s enduring promise of eternal life; it is a testimony.  Jesus is risen! Read John 20:1-10, 11-19.

To Have Risen, What Had To Take Place First?
Death. Read  John 19:1-4, 12-15, 17-19, 23-24, 25-27, 28-30, 31-37. Jesus was buried in Joseph’s tomb (John 19:38-42).

Jesus is the Son of God who gave His life to die on the cross for our sins. On the third day after He died—the day we now celebrate as Easter Sunday–His friends went to His grave and found that He had risen from the dead. They saw an angel who told them: “Don’t be afraid! I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He has been raised from the dead, just as He said it would happen” (Mark 16:6). Easter is a time of hope and assurance that we have a living Saviour, Jesus Christ, who rose from the dead on Easter Sunday; now, He offers to you and me the gift of eternal life and forgiveness of our sins. This is the true story of Easter and how it can change our lives.

The Origin of Easter
People celebrate Easter differently. For the first three centuries, the Church celebrated Easter in connection with the Jewish Passover. The Passover began on the evening of the full moon in the Jewish month of Nisan, which coincided with the Spring Equinox. The first Passover was instituted before the exodus of the people of Israel from Egypt during Moses’ time. The night before leaving, they were to take a spotless lamb, kill it, eat its meat, and put some of the blood on the tops and sides of the door frames of the houses. That night the angel of death stroke down every first born but passed over every house with blood in the door frames. Since all the religious festivals began on the Sabbath, the preparation was Friday, and thus, we have Good Friday.

As the crucifixion occurred on the first day of the feast, early Christians found a scriptural correlation between Jesus and the sacrificial lamb. The Apostle Paul refers to this in his first letter to the Corinthian Church where he states: “For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Cor. 5:7-8). The flexibility of Passover allowed the early Church to celebrate Christ’s resurrection any day of the week on which the third day of the festival happened to fall.

As the Western Church began to emerge, its celebration of Easter coincided with the first Sunday after the first full moon of spring, which caused some contention with the Eastern Church. The matter came to the attention to the Emperor Constantine, who convened the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. The council overseen that all churches would celebrate Easter on the first Sunday after the first full moon of the Spring Equinox. This became the standard for the Church under the Julian calendar until 1582, when Pope Gregory XIII revised the calendar and the Easter tables by adding the leap-year rule.

What Is the Real Meaning of Easter?
The  name “Easter” did not become associated with the resurrection of Christ until the second century. It most likely comes from the ancient Saxon spring festival called Ostern. Some Easter customs also originate from ancient spring festivals. The tradition of the Easter Bunny has its origins with the Saxons, who would adorn their villages with rabbits carved from wood. The giving of brightly coloured eggs was a custom in the Middle East during the spring. In many cultures, the egg symbolized rebirth or renewal.

Easter: a Time of Rejoicing for Christians. The Roman Catholic, the Anglican, and the Greek Orthodox Churches commemorate the resurrection of Christ with the Easter Mass, which includes special prayers, litanies, psalms and hymns. In some Churches throughout Spain, Easter customs include special processions to honour the Virgin Mary. Protestant Churches have Easter services that include communion, special sermons, and sometimes Easter plays. Many Evangelical Churches have sunrise services that include much singing and rejoicing.

The purest meaning of Easter is the celebration of the resurrection or rising of Christ to heaven, which is the foundation of Christianity. Easter Sunday reminds all Christians of their heavenly calling and the open door for relationship with God through Jesus, His Son. It reminds us of who Jesus Christ is, what He did—His purpose—and our purpose in life to carry the torch for Him.

Here are four principles on how one can receive the gift of salvation from God.

1. God loves the world: you and I.
The Bible says: “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16-17).

2. Sin entered the world.
The problem is that all of us have done, said, or thought things that are wrong. This is called sin, and our sins have separated us from God. The Bible says: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). God is perfect and holy, and our sins separate us from God forever. The Bible says: “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).

3. Redemption through the Price of Death on the Cross
The good news is that, about 2,000 years ago, God sent His only Son Jesus Christ to die for our sins. Jesus is the Son of God. He lived a sinless life and then died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. “God demonstrates His own love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us” (John 3:16). Jesus rose from the dead, and now He lives in heaven with God His Father. He offers us the gift of eternal life of living forever with Him in heaven if we accept Him as our Lord and Saviour. “Jesus said: ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by Me’” (John 14:6) God reaches out in love to you and wants you to be His child. “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe on His name” (John 1:12). You can choose to ask Jesus Christ to forgive your sins and to come in to your life as your Lord and Saviour.

4. Declare with Your Mouth, Believe with Your Heart, and Be Saved.
“By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve” (1 Cor. 15:2-5).

If you want to accept Christ as your loving Saviour and Lord and turn from your sins, you can ask Him now. “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved” (Rom. 10:9-10).

You can pray a prayer like this: “Lord Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. Please forgive my sins and give me the gift of eternal life. I ask you to come into my life and heart to be my Lord and Saviour, and I ask Your Holy Spirit to guide and to lead me. Thank you for loving me and receiving me. I want to serve you always. In Jesus’ name. Amen”.

Let us celebrate for JESUS IS ALIVE—HE IS RISEN!!!