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What does Easter Sunday mean to you?
For many people it means something to do with Easter Bunnys, Eggs, daffodils, and so on. For others, it is about going to Church to remember Jesus being raised from the dead.
Yet, for many Christians, Easter is like a ‘remembrance service’, where they remember someone who died a long time ago. Is that what we’re doing? Simply commemorating an event that occurred many years ago?
There are several centenary commemorations coming up in the next few years, such as the Easter rising, the other one, in Dublin in 1916? For many people, they are a walk back into history – like the recent centenary of the Titanic in 2012. It’s fascinating to go to the Titanic exhibition, and see how they built the ships back then, and how they decorated the Titanic, and so on.
A trip down memory lane is interesting, but irrelevant to many people.
If we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, are we just going on a trip down memory lane? Or does it have far more importance and relevance to our lives here and now?
What does John want us to know?
In John’s gospel (John 20:1-31), we read about the first people who encountered Jesus alive, after his resurrection. While Paul later comments that there were hundreds who saw Jesus alive (1 Corinthians 15:3–8), John focuses on those who initially discover the empty tomb, as well as some select aspects of his post-resurrection days:
Firstly, the tomb is empty – Jesus is risen (John 20:1-18). Jesus broke the spell or curse on humanity, death, so that those who trust in him would be raised again to eternal life.
Secondly, the disciples are commissioned to offer the message of forgiveness to the world (John 20:19-23). Jesus’ followers as a whole have a duty to take the gospel to those who have not heard it, so that they can receive forgiveness through faith in Jesus.
Thirdly, those who believe in Jesus, without seeing his body, are blessed (John 20:24-29). We walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).
Fourthly, John summaries the purpose of his gospel, that by believe in Jesus people may have eternal life (John 20:30-31, Romans 6:4, Romans 6:10–11).
The good news about Jesus resurrection isn’t simply a nostalgic trip down memory lane, commemorating the death and resurrection of a cherished religious leader. It is arguably the most significant event in human history, since because of Jesus’ atonement for sin and resurrection from the dead, people today can know forgiveness from their sins, no matter how serious they have been, as well as know that they have eternal life with God forever.
Celebrating the resurrection of Jesus isn’t simply commemorating a historic event that has little contemporary significance. It has enormous significance for everyone, because acceptance of the gracious and merciful offer of forgiveness is the only way to avoid a future encounter with God in judgment, as well as experiencing the firstfruits of eternal life by walking in the Spirit here and now (Matthew 16:27, Luke 24:44–48, Ephesians 1:13-14, Romans 6:10-11).
Praise God for such great salvation, offered freely to everyone…