We all enjoy Easter holidays. Time off from work for a few extra days. Did you know the word ‘holiday’ comes from ‘holy day?’
The word ‘holy’ means to set apart, so a holiday is a day (or days) set apart for us to be able to do something different than what we usually do. We have just experienced over the past week the flash flooding that has left many people homeless and others have lost family members, I pray that this Easter brings hope once more to us in the midst of our despair.
There are 2 kinds of holidays. In one, we can rest from our work or school, and we might have 3 or 4 weeks of holidays where we go away, or go home, or just rest and spend time with family and friends. The other kind of holiday we can remember some special event or person. That’s why we have a holiday on Independence Day, or Christmas Day, or New Year’s Day.
Good Friday and Easter Sunday are included among the days for remembering. Like many holidays, they come from the Christian Calendar. But what is it we remember? And perhaps more importantly – is it only remembering that we do, or do these days call for more from us?
Both days find their focus in the person and work of Jesus Christ, God’s eternal Son. Jesus is a unique person. He is both God and man. The Son of God came into our history and took on our human flesh and blood some 2,000 years ago in order to bring salvation for lost sinners. He accomplished that by dying on the cross, there paying the penalty for sin. As the Bible says – the wages of sin is death. That’s why the cross is the most well-known symbol of the Christian faith. It was on the cross that Jesus died, and through his death reconciled us to God the Father. On Good Friday, Christians remember that Jesus died, and more importantly, that he died for them.
Easter Sunday is the day we remember the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He had been dead since Friday, but he was raised back to life the following Sunday, never to die again. Easter demonstrates the power of Christ over death and the grave. Death could not hold him down – the grave had no power over him.
Now these things are more than just historical facts. We don’t just remember a good man, or some amazing miracle, true as it may be. These things actually have a benefit for us today – for us now. Christ’s death on the cross is for sinners of all time. And his resurrection gives us a sure hope that the power of death has been broken for all time.
The question that remains is this: How does this apply to me, now? Is the death and resurrection of Christ something that somehow ensures all humanity will at last reach heaven? Well, not really! The benefits of the death and resurrection only come to us only through faith. And not just any faith. Most people in the world have a faith of some sort or other. But the Bible makes it plain that this faith must be in the certainty that Jesus death on the cross was for me, personally; that he died to save me from all my sin.
So Good Friday & Easter is about remembering the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But to receive the blessings and the benefits of this death and resurrection, it is also about believing. Without faith, there is no benefit, other than maybe a paid out holiday.
But with a real faith in Jesus, Easter becomes a time of hope – a time of looking to the future, a time of looking for something better yet. For this Jesus who came once to live, die and live again, this same Jesus will come again, and he will make all things new. Therein lies our hope – and if we have hope, then we have courage to go on, and to live in such a way that our lives will make a difference for others, and will make a contribution towards the Kingdom of God among us.
By Rev. Eric Maefonea