The Real Meaning of Easter

emptytombFor many, Easter is simply a 4-day weekend that revolves around DIY, dusting down the BBQ and chocolate.  Yet it is at the heart of the Christian calendar as it was the time when Jesus died; but because he never sinned, rose again.  This “rising from the dead” is what we as Christadelphians (and some other faiths) hold dear. The fact is that when Jesus returns, if we have died, he will be raise us from the dead just as he was raised. 

Some people struggle to get to grips with the concept of Easter, such as why does the date change and why is it important? Well, to understand the date we have to understand a bit about the Jewish festivals.  Jesus was crucified at the time of the Jewish Passover.  Indeed the Passover lamb was a foreshadowing of the death of Jesus.  Just as a lamb was sacrificed at the Passover, so Jesus gave his life for us, as a sacrifice.  According to Jewish law Passover begins on the 15th day of Nisan, which is the seventh month in the Jewish calendar.  That usually means it falls somewhere in March or April.  In 2014 Passover was on April 15th.

Modern Easter is calculated as the first Sunday after the full moon that occurs on or after the equinox. Using this calculation it can occur anywhere between March 22nd and April 25th.  Over the years a few amendments have been made.  The Western church does not use the actual, or astronomically correct date for the  equinox but a fixed date (March 21st), and by full moon it does not mean the astronomical full moon but the “ecclesiastical moon,” which is based on tables created by the church. This allows the date of Easter to be calculated in advance.

Also in 325AD the council of Nicaea established that Easter would always be celebrated on a Sunday.  The idea that Jesus died on a Friday and rose on a Sunday comes about because in Luke 23:53 we read about the day of Crucifixion:

It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning.

In verse 56:

On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

And we read in Matt 28:1

Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 

But Jesus said that he would rise on the third day, so how does that work?  One possible reason is that the Sabbath referred to in Mark wasn’t necessarily the one on a Saturday as it was Passover, which is also a Sabbath, and as we have already established can be on any day; but the Sabbath in Matthew must have been the Saturday Sabbath as it refers to the day they went to the grave as being “the first day of the week” i.e. Sunday. So Jesus may have been crucified on the Thursday or even the Wednesday.  So modern Easter is at the right time of year, if not the exact day or date!

But the day or date isn’t really important; in fact Christadelphians celebrate his death and resurrection every week of the year in breaking bread and drinking wine. It is the effects of Jesus’s death and resurrection that matters to us.  We know that Jesus was sent into this world to save anyone who would listen to him and follow his ways.  In John we read:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 

John 3:16-18 (ESV)

Jesus never sinning and so being raised from the dead is the starting point for us to transform our lives, so that one day we too may be raised. Are you willing to accept the challenge of eternal life?  To find out more of what we believe, then visit our “What We Believe” page.

We’re Not Worthy!

we“We’re not worthy!” was the cry of the lead characters in in the 90’s film “Wayne’s World” whenever they met one of their rock heroes. At times we don’t feel worthy of things and on other occasions we feel we rightly deserve them. Last month at the Winter Olympics in Sochi medal winners were sometimes referred to as being “worthy winners”, usually if they had trained hard or overcome setbacks. Cheats on the other hand were universally decried as “not being worthy to take part in the games”. So our worth in the world and life does seem important to how people perceive us.

Followers of Christ are often considered to be “worthy”, “good” or “upstanding” people. Well according to the Bible that is how they should be:

But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. (Colossians 3:8)

But that’s easier said than done! None of us were born naturally able to live this way. We will always want to do what is in our own self-interest. Becoming a “good” person isn’t an easy process, but it is “worth” it.

Some people are put off even considering following Christ’s example as they think (to quote Wayne’s World again) “I’m not worthy!” But you are not alone. If you look at whom God chose to be his servants and disciples in the Bible, they appear to be a right motley crew:

Jacob was a cheater, Peter had a temper, David had an affair, Noah got drunk, Jonah ran from God, Paul was a murderer, Gideon was insecure, Miriam was a gossiper, Martha was a worrier, Thomas was a doubter, Sarah was impatient, Elijah was depressed, Moses stuttered, Zaccheus was short, Abraham was old and Lazarus was dead….God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called!

None of us are perfect or worthy. Paul writes to the believers in Romans:

“None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

And later on in the chapter he says:

“all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”

But then continues

But they are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus         (Romans 3:10-11, 23-24)

So even though none of us are “worthy” we can see that God has put in place through Jesus the opportunity for us to be forgiven our shortcoming and start afresh. Our past is not important to God, but our future is. To find out more about God’s plan for this world and how you can be part of it, visit our “What we Believe” page, or listen/watch some of our talks on our “Sunday Talks” page.

YOLO – (Not necessarily true)

keep-calm-because-yolo-24A common expression with young people is “YOLO”.  It stands for  “You Only Live Once” and is usually used when encouraging others to live life to the max.  Not living your life to its full potential is a shame, but the sentiment of this expression is slightly misguided.

According to the Bible there is more to life than just the present.  This life is important and the Bible tells us about changes we need to make to our lives in preparation for a perfect everlasting life, which will make any adventures we have in this life insignificant.

This new life will start with the return of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  He will set up a Kingdom on earth the like of which has never been seen before.  It will be a Kingdom of peace and of love and will last forever.  We are told that when he returns (which could be any day soon) he will grant those of his followers, who he sees as being faithful, a place in that Kingdom.  Those faithful who have died will be raised and live forever in this Kingdom.  So you can see the idea that “you only live once” is a bit flawed!

However, there are conditions, which is why it is so important that you make the most of this life.  We are told that we need to face up to our shortcomings and change our lives (usually referred to as repentance) to follow Jesus’ instructions. We are also told that we need to be baptised.  Jesus instructed his disciples:

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.  He who believes and is baptised will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 

 Mark 16:15-16

 If you don’t do this then YOLO is a reality.  You really will only live once, and once you die, that’s it.  So why not make this life worth living.  Read the Bible.  Because life’s too short.