The Biblical View of Easter

The word Easter is of Saxon origin, "Eastra," refers to the goddess of spring, in whose honor sacrifices were offered about Passover time each year. By the 8th century Anglo-Saxons had adopted the name to designate the celebration of Christ's resurrection.

The Greek word PASCHA, and the Hebrew word PESAH, mean "the Passover," and are so translated in every passage except in Acts 12:4, where it is translated "Easter." In the earlier English versions of the Bible the word "Easter" had been frequently used as the translation of PASCHA. But in the latest revisions the word "Passover" was substituted in all passages but the one in Acts 12:4. The event represented by Easter is unique to Christianity.

Most religions in the world today follow dead leaders. Buddhism is a religion that follows the life and teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, the teacher and founder of the Buddhist religion. His followers called him Gautama, or Gautama Buddha, just as Christians say Jesus Christ. The word Buddha is found in Sanskrit and means "to become enlightened," or "to become wise." Gautama Buddha died about 483 BC. There are no stories about him rising from the dead. He is still dead. Therefore the Buddhist religion is based on a dead founder.

Hinduism (the religion of India) has no historical founder. Most of their beliefs are based on tradition. There isn't anyone they can turn to and say, "We pattern our life after him." Hinduism has no foundation apart from the traditions and logic of man.

Confucianism is a religion that came from the teachings of Confucius. He lived in China from 551 to 479 BC. He died, and there are no stories about him rising from the dead. He is still dead. Therefore Confucionism is based on a dead founder.

All religions in the world today are based on dead founders, or the traditions, logic and philosophies of man. All of that forms a very weak foundation.

Christianity, on the other hand, is not a religion. Man in his arrogance and ignorance looks at Christianity as just another religion. But true Christianity is opposed to religion, and denounces all forms of religion as being false. The Bible teaches that religion is basically a tool of Satan. Christianity, on the other hand, is the tool of God. The one thing that makes Christianity unique is that its founder and leader is alive. He was dead, but He rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of God in heaven.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the foundation fact on which Christianity is built. Paul said in I Corinthians 15:17, "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is in vain; and you are still in your sins." The proof that Jesus was the Son of God depended on His resurrection from the dead. Five different times Jesus declared that He would be crucified and buried and on the third day would rise from the dead. Matthew 12:39-40; 20:17-19; 26:30-32; Luke 18:31-33; John 2:19-22. If He had not risen from the dead we would not have known whether He was who He claimed to be. But the apostle Paul says in Romans 1:4 that He was "Declared (demonstrated) to be the SON OF GOD....BY THE RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD."

There can be no question as to Jesus' death on the cross. All four gospel writers tell us that Jesus "gave up His spirit." Death did not conquer Him. He gave up His life of His own accord. Jesus said in John 10:17-18; "I lay down my life, only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again...." There were many witnesses who saw Jesus die on the cross, but there were no eye witnesses to His resurrection. That is, no one actually saw Him come out of the tomb. But most of the greatest legal minds of the centuries who have weighed the evidence concerning the resurrection of Jesus Christ have pronounced it to be flawless. >

Jesus Is Alive

Matthew 28:1-15;

(VS 1) After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

The first day of the week - This was Sunday. The Sabbath day (Saturday) belongs to the Jews alone, and is not for the Christian in the Age of the Church. As a testimony to the fact that Jesus rose from the dead we have church services on the "first day of the week." This is called "the Lord's day." Not the Sabbath. There are no Sabbath days for the Church, or for Christians.

(VS 2) There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. This earthquake occurred before the women came to the tomb. This is a common style of Hebrew writing. After beginning a sentence the writer goes back to something that occurred earlier. It is also important to note that the stone was not rolled away to let Jesus out, the stone was rolled away to let others in to see and be witnesses that Jesus had risen from the dead.

(VS 3) His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.

(VS 4) The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. In other words, the guards were shocked into stillness and inactivity.

(VS 5) The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.

(VS 6) He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.

(VS 7) Then go quickly and tell his disciples: He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him. Now I have told you." Notice that the angel told them to look at the place where Jesus' body had laid, then he told them to go and tell the other disciples. He did not want them to take his word for it. He wanted them to see for themselves, then go and tell the others.

(VS 8) So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. You talk about mixed emotions. These ladies had them.

(VS 9) Suddenly Jesus met them. "Greetings," he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. On their way to tell the others, Jesus met them and said "Greetings." Immediately they fell at His feet and worshiped Him.

(VS 10) Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brethren to go to Galilee; there they will see me." Jesus told the women the same thing the angel told them: "To go and tell the others."

(VS 11) While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. The women and the guards did not see each other. The guards were gone by the time the women got to the tomb.

(VS 12) When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money.

(VS 13) Telling them, "You are to say, 'His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.'

(VS 14) If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.'" This means that the chief priests would also give a large sum of money to the governor. In other words, they would bribe him. It appears that they had done this before.

(VS 15) So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day. The story the chief priests and elders made up to discredit the disciples' story that Jesus had risen from the dead had a lot of loopholes in it.
First of all, it meant death for a Roman soldier to fall asleep while on duty, and if they were all asleep, how could they know whether Jesus' body was stolen or arose, and, if stolen, who stole it? Breaking the seal on the tomb and rolling back the stone would have been very noisy work. The noise would have aroused the soldiers.
Secondly, it would have been next to impossible to carry a body out of town without someone seeing it. If the chief priests had really believed that Jesus' body had been stolen, they would have offered a reward for its recovery. The recovery of the body would have set at rest for all time the question of Jesus' resurrection. But they did not because they believed a miracle had taken place.

The Risen Savior

LUKE 24:36-49;

(VS 36) While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." The followers of Jesus were talking about the rumors they heard of Him rising from the dead when He appeared in their presence, and talked to them.

(VS 37) They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. They were startled because one minute He wasn't there, and the next minute He was. In other words, it seemed that He appeared out of nowhere.

(VS 38) He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?" Jesus asked two simple questions: "Why are you troubled, or disturbed?" And "Why do doubts (lack of faith) rise in your minds?" If they knew and understood the Word of God, they would have known and understood what they were seeing. But they were ignorant of divine truth.

(VS 39) "Look at my hands and feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have."

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. I can picture Jesus telling them to look at His hands and feet as He showed them to them.

(VS 41) And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, "Do you have anything here to eat?" The disciples were still in shock, and did not seem to comprehend what had happened. So Jesus simply asked them if they had anything to eat, indicating that He was hungry.

(VS 42) They gave him a piece of broiled fish, (VS 43) and he took it and ate it in their presence. I want you to notice that the resurrection body can consume food. Jesus ate a piece of fish. It says in Philippians 3:21 that we are going to have bodies just like His.

(VS 44) He said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms. He was referring to His death, burial and resurrection. The Jews who knew the Old Testament understood that the Messiah was to come and die for the sins of the world. Jesus is saying that He fulfilled all that the Old Testament spoke concerning Him.

(VS 45) Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. This is the only way anyone can understand the Bible. The Lord must make it known to them through the Holy Spirit.

(VS 46) He told them, "This is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day." Isaiah chapter 53 is a prime example of what Jesus is talking about here.

(VS 47) "And repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in His name in all nations, beginning at Jerusalem."

(VS 48) "You are witnesses of these things. (VS 49) I am going to send you what my Father has promised: but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high." Jesus was referring to the Baptism of the Holy Spirit that occurred on the day of Pentecost just 10 days after His ascension to heaven. That is recorded in Acts chapter two.

JOHN 20:19-31;

(VS 19) On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." When it says that "Jesus came and stood among them," it does not mean that He walked in and joined them. It means that one minute He was not there, and the next minute He was. The door was closed and locked because they were afraid of the Jews, however, locked doors mean nothing to the resurrection body which is not subject to the physical laws of the universe.

(VS 20) After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

(VS 21) Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you."

(VS 22) And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit." This is not the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. This was a temporary enduing of the Holy Spirit for protection until the Baptism of the Holy Spirit occurred. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit would occur ten days after our Lord's ascension to heaven.

(VS 23) If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven. The power to forgive sin belongs only to God, and Jesus claimed to have this power and right (Mark 2:5-7). He does not give this power or authority to any human being. What He did give to the disciples and what He does give to us is the power and the privilege to give assurance of God's forgiveness of sins by correctly teaching the terms of forgiveness.

(VS 24) Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came.

(VS 25) When the other disciples told him that they had seen the Lord, he declared, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it." Thomas was a real doubter. Sometimes my mother would say to me, "You are a real doubting Thomas." That expression comes from this incident.

(VS 26) A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." Between verses 22 and 26 seven days have lapsed. When the disciples were gathered together this time, Thomas was with them.

(VS 27) Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." Because of Thomas' unbelief, Jesus singled him out and challenged him. He told him to "Put his finger on His nail scarred hands, and then to place his hand in His side." In other words, Jesus did exactly what Thomas requested in verse 25, when he was told that Jesus had risen from the dead. So be careful what you request, the Lord just might give it to you, and it may not be like you thought it would be. So be wise and pray with knowledge and understanding, and not with your emotion.

(VS 28) Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!" This really got Thomas' attention. And all of a sudden he realized that Jesus did in fact raise from the dead. This was a vivid reality.

(VS 29) Then Jesus said to him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." Thomas was an empiricist. He had to see something in order to believe it. But true Christianity does not rely on empiricism. True Christianity relies on faith, and faith alone. I Corinthians 5:7 tells us that "We live by faith, not by sight." Hebrews 11:6 says that "Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he gives to all those who earnestly seek him." Then in Romans 10:17 Paul tells us how we can receive this faith that God requires us to have. He says, "Faith only comes from learning, the learning of the word of God." So if you want to have faith in your life as a Christian, learning the Word of God is the only way you can get it. Not just reading the Bible, but studying and learning what the Bible teaches. This involves self-disciple, concentration, and studying under the authority of a man with the spiritual gift of communication.

(VS 30) Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.

(VS 31) "But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah) the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the foundation of all Christian beliefs. It is the cornerstone on which our salvation rests. If there had been no resurrection of Jesus Christ, then we will not be resurrected. But thank God that Jesus was resurrected, and that in the future there will be a resurrection of all those who believe in Him.

I CORINTHIANS 15:12-25;

(VS 12) But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? The Corinthians, who were Greeks, did not believe in a bodily resurrection from the dead.

(VS 13) If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. In other words, if there is no resurrection at all, then Christ Himself could not have been raised.

(VS 14) And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.

(VS 15) More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.

(VS 16) For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.

(VS 17) And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile, and you are still in your sins.

(VS 18) Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.

(VS 19) If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.

(VS 20) But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

(VS 21) For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. It is because of Adam's sin that every one must face death. It is also because of a man that we have hope, the man Jesus Christ. It is through His death, burial, resurrection, ascension and session that all of us have the opportunity to possess eternal life, and receive a glorified resurrection body in the future. Therefore, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the key to anyone possessing eternal life and going to heaven after death. In other words, if Jesus Christ didn't do all that the Bible says that He did, then there is no hope for anyone, and we are all lost and doomed to eternal damnation.

(VS 22) For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

(VS 23) But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.

(VS 24) Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.

(VS 25) For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under His feet. Jesus Christ was the first human being to be resurrected from the dead, never to die again. Then when He returns, He will resurrect all those who belong to Him. First of all, He will come in the clouds, the trumpet will sound and the dead in Christ of the Church Age will be raised from the dead, then the ones living will go up to meet the Lord in the air. Seven years later, Christ will return to the earth and set up His kingdom. At that time all those who believed in Him before the Church Age will be resurrected from the dead and will join with all Church Age believers in their resurrection bodies to rule and reign with Him on the earth for 1,000 years.

I THESSALONIANS 4:13-18;

(VS 13) Brethren, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep in death, or to grieve like the rest of humanity, who have no hope. I want you to notice that Christians will grieve, but we are not to grieve like the non-Christian who has no hope and no assurance.

(VS 14) We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in death, in him. The phrase "bringing with Jesus" refers to the coming of Jesus Christ at the Rapture, when He comes to the clouds above the earth. At that time He will bring with Him the souls and spirits of all those who have died in Him. And He will raise their bodies from the graves and change the entire molecular structure of those bodies and place their souls and spirits in them at that time.

(VS 15) According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep in death. At the time of the Rapture or the catching away of all Church Age believers, there will be two categories of believers involved: those who are alive and are still living on the earth, and those who have died. The souls and spirits of the dead believers went to heaven at the moment of their death, and their bodies were placed in the ground and have decomposed and returned to the dust of the earth. In verse 15 Paul is saying that the believers who are alive at the Lord's coming will not receive a resurrection body before the ones who have died. In fact, the opposite is true. Those who have died will receive a resurrection body only seconds before the ones who are living.

VS 16) For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. I want you to notice that the ones who are dead will be the ones to be resurrected first.

(VS 17) After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Notice, that after the dead Christians are resurrected, the ones who are living in regular physical bodies will then be changed. In other words, they will not die, but their bodies will be instantly changed to the glorified spiritual body resembling that of our Lord. Paul explains this in more detail in I Corinthians 15:51-52, ".....We will not all sleep in death, but we will all be changed, in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed."

(VS 18) Therefore encourage and comfort each other with these words. The belief in the resurrection and the receiving of a supernatural body that will never die is one of the great hopes that Christianity offers. And the only way anyone can be a part of this great hope is to believe in Jesus Christ, to trust in Him as their own personal Savior.

There is no religion in the world that can guarantee anyone a place in heaven, but Jesus Christ can. There is no religion in the world that can guarantee anyone a supernatural physical body after death, but Jesus Christ can. Because He rose from the dead, He showed us that it can and will be done. All you have to do to be a part of the family of God, and be guaranteed a resurrection body is to believe, to trust, to have faith in Jesus Christ. Faith in Buddhism, or Hinduism, or Islam, or in Confusianism, will not save a single soul. These religions are all deceptions that have blinded the eyes of millions over the years. The same principle is true in the Christian realm. Faith in the Roman Catholic Church, or the Baptist Church, or the Methodist Church, or any other denomination will not save a single soul. Salvation and a place in heaven only comes when one has faith, or trust, or belief in Jesus Christ. Acts 16:31; "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved......" Jesus said in John 14:6, "I am the only way, and the only truth, and the only life; no one comes to the Father in heaven except through me." Jesus is saying that it does matter what you believe, and if you believe in the wrong thing you will not be allowed to enter heaven. So don't get involved in anything that leaves out Jesus Christ.

In closing I want to tell you of an incident that took place in Turkey a number of years ago. "A missionary in Turkey wished to teach a group of people the truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He said, 'I am traveling, and have reached a place where the road branches off in two ways; I look for a guide, and find two men: one dead, and the other alive. Which of the two must I ask for direction, the dead or the living?' 'Oh, the living,' cried the people. 'Then,' said the missionary, 'why send me to Mohammed, who is dead, instead of to Christ, who is alive."

So don't place any hope in dead leaders or dead religions. But place your hope in the Lord Jesus Christ. Who was dead, but now lives, and is returning to set up His kingdom on the earth. What a joyous time that will be.

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Copyright 2000 by Robert H. Kreger. All rights reserved. Anyone may reproduce this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's written consent.