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What the Bible Says is the True Meaning of Easter?
This hub is part two of my hubs about discovering the true meaning of Easter. The first one details How I and the People in the Philippines Celebrate the Lenten Season. This hub will focus on the true meaning of Easter according to what the Bible says.
In part 1, I ended saying that I no longer join the religious traditions during the Lenten Season espoused by Catholicism. Why is that? To drive straight to the point, I had a change of heart and mind. I'll tell you a little more how that happened in a while.
In my childish mind, I had questions regarding the celebration of the Lenten Season. Why is it that every year Jesus dies on the cross and rise again? Why do some people do the penintensya or carry the cross like Jesus did? I have nothing against the presentation of the life story of Jesus in the form of the pabasa, the senakulo or the 14 Stations of the Cross. It actually gave me the consciousness about the Christian message that Jesus died for our sins. But the big question is "What is the point of all these things?"
When I was 14 years old, a Christian (not a Catholic) told me about the Good News. He said that Jesus loves me and died for my sins. I already knew that because of the yearly celebration of the Holy Week. So what's different about this Good News?
Well, he also told me the reason why Jesus died for my sins. MY SINS? That's getting personal. He said as quoted from Scripture that "all men have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" and that "the wages of sin is death" so the sins that I personally commit separate me from God and bring condemnation on myself so that when I die, I will go to hell.
Go to hell? I don't want to go to hell. How can I save myself? Well, apparently I cannot. There is no good thing that I do can ever offset the sins that I commit to give me a righteous standing before God. That is how holy God is. Only Jesus' death on the cross paid the penalty for my sins. He did it so that I or anyone who believes in Him and what He has done could be justly forgiven from his sins and be saved from eternal death in hell. Jesus did it because He loves us all.
"For it is by grace you have been saved through faith - and this is not of yourselves, it is a gift of God - not by works so that no one can boast. ~ Ephesians 2;8" If receiving forgiveness for our sins and being saved from hell is not earned by our works, then what does the penitensya or those carrying the cross really accomplish? How about those who devotedly do all the religious practices during the Lenten season?
Wow! Suddenly, things started to make sense to me. Though I already knew that Jesus died for the sins of the world, yet it means nothing to me personally unless I appropriate the benefits of Jesus' death on the cross over my personal life. I needed to repent and ask forgiveness for my sins and simply believe that Jesus took my place and paid the penalty of my sins. When I did that, it brought a whole world of change in my heart, mind and life.That was actually just the beginning of true Christianity for me.
Now, every time the Holy Week comes, I stand in awe of the great thing that Jesus Christ had done for me. Watching the passion of Christ dramatized on TV or in a play make me feel ever grateful of how much He really loved me to have sacrificed so much for me.
What About Easter?
Easter Sunday is the day when the resurrection of Jesus Christ is remembered. It is the proof that Jesus has indeed conquered death making our faith in Christ not without hope. It is our assurance that Jesus has indeed overcome the power of sin and death. Of this the Apostle Paul said that "Death has been swallowed up in victory" (1 Corinthians 15:54). And because Jesus was raised from the dead, we who believe in him will also be raised from the dead to eternal life.
Another point that is worth mentioning is that Jesus is alive forevermore. I remember when I was a child, some old folks would say that Jesus is dead on Good Friday. Well, that isn't so. Jesus sacrificed for sins once for all when he offered himself (Hebrews 7:27) about 2,000 years ago and he rose again and he lives forever.
I highlighted the words "once" and "for all" to emphasize that what Jesus did was the perfect sacrifice for sins of all men. It was not like the sacrifices of bulls and goats that the high priests of Israel in the old covenant do year after year as atonement for his sins and those of the people, nor is it like the penitensya or whatever kind of penance that the people do nowadays to feel atoned for. Jesus' sacrifice was done once and it is effectual for all people for all times. Hallelujah! Jesus is alive.
The message of the Lenten Season and of the Easter is the message of Jesus' death and resurrection which brings hope, freedom and life. If we can only understand and truly believe this, we will experience the full and meaningful life that Christianity offers.
God bless us all!