Better Late Than Never... The Easter Message!

Easter and Christmas are the two great Christian festivals celebrated worldwide, Whitsun used to be, but has fallen out of favour for some decades now, although it is as important as the other two - the birthday of the Church on the Day of Pentecost.

There are Christians, both individuals and groups, who speak against these celebrations on the ground that they encourage thinking of Christ and Christianity only at these times - it gives unconverted people the opportunity to salve their conscious by ‘giving the nod to God’ once in a while.

Further, they say, there is no mention of a special festival for these occasions in the New Testament teachings, the only two celebrations and ceremonies being baptism and communion. They feel that the cross, the resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit are essential to preaching and teaching at all times.

While I have certain sympathy with this point of view, I feel that it is greatly exaggerated. In fact, Christmas and Easter are the two times in the year when the gospel can reach a far greater number of people than usual, and should therefore be taken full advantage of by every possible means. Even the media feel, reluctantly, that they must give some space to the orthodox Christian message at these times.

I don’t want to be misogynistic and spoil children’s delight in Easter eggs, Easter bunnies and hot - cross buns, but these things should never even begin to take the place of the proclamation of the cross and the empty tomb and their significance.

The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ the Son of God is the most important event, not only of world history, but of the whole of Creation - it is the pivotal point of past and future. Further, the resurrection of Christ from the dead ratified and underlined his atoning sacrifice on the cross - JESUS IS ALIVE!

On the Day of Pentecost (Whitsun) The Apostle Peter preached to a great crowd in Jerusalem saying -

Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him - Acts 2: 22 to 24

It was the central message that the Apostle Paul took to the gentiles -

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world - Galatians 6: 14

He told the church at Corinth -

I was resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified - 1 Corinthians 2: 2

He wrote to the church in Rome saying -

That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved - Romans 10: 9

All four gospels describe the crucifixion and the resurrection, the Apostle John says this -

So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). There they crucified him, and with him two others - one on each side and Jesus in the middle - Matthew 27: 45 & 46

The apostle Matthew describes the most terrible moments of the crucifixion -

From the sixth hour to the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" - which means, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" - Matthew 27: 45 & 46

It is significant that from the earliest translations onward the actual Aramaic words that Jesus would have spoken have been preserved. The Apostle Paul explains the reason for that awful, desperate cry -

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written; "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." - Galatians 3: 13

Matthew also speaks of Christ’s resurrection -

The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples - Matthew 28: 5 to 7

The apostle John describes the last moments of Christ’s agony on the cross -

Later knowing that everything was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I am thirsty." A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hysop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit - John 19: 28 to 30

Some of the most important words ever spoken were said by Jesus here - "It is finished". The work of salvation for sinful men, at unbelievable cost, was complete, never to be repeated.

John also speaks of the resurrection, describing Peter and John running to the empty tomb -

Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed - John 20: 4 to 9

The New Testament Book of Hebrews declares -

Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him - Hebrews 10: 28

Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy - Hebrews 10: 13 & 14

I challenge you now to open the New Testament of the Bible and read in the four gospels the story of Christ’s death and resurrection and then confess with your mouth that he is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead and you will be saved for time and eternity.

Many Blessings!
Pastor Gordon Guillermo Burgess

Facebook: Alicante Church Of The Good Shepherd