We can use one simple test to prove that spring is approaching. If the sun actually warms us up when we go outside, that means spring is finally here! In South Dakota, you might not see spring sunshine, green grass, and tulips yet, but if the sun is warm, that makes all the difference.
Because spring is almost here, our minds will quickly wander to Easter.
This holiday has come to represent spring with its cute rabbits and little chicks. We splash Easter’s cheerful colors across dyed eggs and candy wrappers, bright and vibrant like the flowers finally seeing the light of day after a long winter.
But for many, that’s all Easter is. Easter becomes a simple celebration of the season of spring. And that is a lovely notion in some ways. But after we eat the Peeps and chocolate eggs and leave our family gatherings, does Easter really impact us?
We might begin to wonder where Easter came from. Why do we really celebrate this holiday?
Some traditions, such as Easter egg hunts and the Easter bunny, may have once been pagan celebrations of fertility and life. Yet, Easter itself is a precious holiday in the Christian faith.
Author Lee Strobel, former atheist and now a writer of bestselling books like The Case for Christ, writes about finding reason in something that sounds illogical through historical evidence developed by comparing ancient manuscripts and other aspects of ancient history with the Gospel accounts.
His book The Case for Easter shows us the true meaning and significance of this holiday. The Easter story might sound incomprehensible at first, but the deeper we look, the more it makes sense.
There is a lot more to this holiday than initially meets the eye.
Jesus was 30 when He started His ministry. In three short years, He grew His following to contain 12 close disciples and thousands of faithful followers.
Jesus healed the sick, preached, and performed many miracles. John 21:25 reads:
“Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”
There were people who hated Him because of what He did. The powerful leaders of the time felt threatened by Jesus’ growing fame.
When Jesus was teaching, Israel was one of the most politically charged places. The Romans had taken over their “promised land” in 63 BC, and the Israelites were very upset.
It was a significant time for Jesus Christ to be in ministry.
Not only was the region in turmoil, but the Pharisees had also just entered the scene. The Pharisees became so obsessed with keeping God’s laws that they began to make their own rules. These rules acted as a cushion between God’s commandments and their sin. Unfortunately, this made them arrogant, and many were unrepentant.
The Romans thought Jesus was potentially leading an uprising against them. Although they were a large empire, they kept a careful eye out for any signs of civil unrest. One such event happened before Jesus entered Jerusalem when he fed the 5,000 in John 6:
“After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, ‘Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.’ Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make Him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by Himself.”
The rule-obsessed Pharisees saw Jesus healing the sick and spending time with sinners and insisted that He was falsely claiming to be the Messiah. They hated His growing influence over people, and they were furious when He threatened their temple in Matthew 24:2:
“‘Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.'”
Jesus was correct about the temple, and the Romans tore it apart in 70 AD.
The night before Good Friday, Jesus was brought into the courts. The Jews traditionally were meant to be celebrating Passover, but they instead decided to punish Jesus by crucifixion. Passover was a holiday to commemorate the time when the Angel of Death passed over the homes that had lamb’s blood painted on their doorframes.
Interestingly, this sounds like a prophecy in Isaiah that says Jesus would be the “lamb” who saves His people from death.
To lead Jesus to His death, the Jews needed to go through the Roman court systems, and Pontius Pilot was the Roman ruler in charge of the region. He may have been curious about Jesus’ popularity, but the most mind-boggling thing to him was probably the Jews turning against one of their own people, who was also powerful and potentially influential. Ultimately, Pilot washed his hands of the incident, not wanting to infuriate the religious and anger the Jews on Passover.
Jesus was brutally tortured. Eventually, He made it up Golgotha, also called “the place of the skull,” where He was nailed to the cross and raised up between two criminals.
Even in His agony, Jesus blessed one of the dying criminals when he begged:
“‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’
Jesus answered him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.'”
Jesus died on Good Friday after crying out to God, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”
“He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth.”
And Jesus rose to life again on third day, now known as Easter Sunday. Five hundred witnesses saw Jesus alive immediately after resurrection – a significant piece of evidence that Lee Strobel uses in his book The Case for Christ.
In His resurrection, Jesus saved all who believe in Him from sin and death. They too can be raised like Jesus was raised to life again through the Holy Spirit. His resurrection crushed sin and death. God’s story leads up to this moment.
In Genesis, God promises that the serpent, Satan, will be crushed. Later, we see God’s covenant with Abraham, where He tells him in Genesis 12 that “all the peoples of the earth will be blessed through you.” And we are blessed.
This is why we celebrate Easter. We have been renewed through our faith in Christ. Our joy overflows because of His sacrifice and His resurrection. The season of spring is also a celebration of Easter. It symbolizes the end of our cold and dreary winter and how we can step into brand new life.
Ultimately, the real meaning of Easter requires one not-so-simple step: faith. We like to think logically, and this holiday might seem better to be left as a springtime celebration. But perhaps there is more evidence to support the resurrection.
In Lee Strobel’s book The Case for Easter, he goes into detail about our doubts about the resurrection as well as evidence to support the reality of Jesus rising from the dead. He utilizes scholars, and even medical evidence to study the historical truth within Jesus’ death.
Lee Strobel was formerly an atheist and, with experience from his journalism career, he tried to find a case for – or against – Christ. He found enough evidence to influence his decision to step into faith.
Lee values the facts and uses solid evidence within his books. He examines the nitty-gritty details of the story of Jesus.
Lee’s books are accessible at an affordable price on Amazon or on his website.
Are you curious about the next steps in putting your faith in Jesus? Text LIFE to our short code 41224 and find out more about the Gospel.