The Meaning of Easter. • Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus and Easter celebrates Jesus’ death and Resurrection. Christmas and Easter are the two most important festival in the Christian calendar.
The background to Easter Easter is a strange word. It does not come from the Bible. Eostrewas a goddess, she was a symbol of new life. Easter takes place each spring, the season of new life. The new life coming out of the ground is linked with Jesus coming out of the tomb.
Just as Christmas echoes an old pagan feast of Saturnalia, so Easter echoes old rites of fertility. • This is why we have Easter eggs. The egg is a symbol of life. It breaks and something comes out of it. • In a similar way the tomb broke – and Jesus came out. Just as a seed falls into the ground, lies and grows – so Jesus died, was buried and came back to life again.
Easter also takes place at the time of the Jewish Passover, Easter changes its date each year because it takes place near the Passover, on the Sunday after the full moon that falls on the 21st March. • This is the Spring Equinox – the beginning of spring.
Palm Sunday • Maundy Thursday • Good Friday • Easter Sunday • Celebrates Jesus’ ride into Jerusalem on a donkey. • Remembers the Last Supper. • Remembers Jesus terrible death on the cross. • recalls Jesus’ resurrection – the day he comes back to life.
Soon after Jesus’ death, his disciples came out of hiding and said that he had risen to new life. This is the very basis of the Christian faith: Jesus died and rose again. Whatever had happened the disciples certainly had changed.
From being frightened and hidden away, they had emerged, bold and fearless. Jesus, the Messiah, who had died as a criminal was now the exalted Messiah offering salvation to everyone. The disciples believed that Jesus had died. • The disciples believed that Jesus had risen. What is more, the disciples believed that Jesus had appeared to them and talked with them. The Kingdom of God that Jesus had preached was not at an end after all. It was only beginning.
Why is the Resurrection important? • The Resurrection shows that Jesus was the Messiah. • It is not proof in a scientific sense, but the resurrection is a sign that Jesus was trustworthy, powerful and true.
Why is the Resurrection important? • The Resurrection shows that there is life after death. • Jesus experienced death – and then returned. This new resurrection life is the same life Jesus offers to everyone who decides to follow him.
Why is the Resurrection important? • The Resurrection shows that the powers of evil have been defeated. • All through the Gospels Jesus’ Kingdom of God is shown as defeating the Kingdom of Satan. Jesus’ death on the cross looks like Satan's victory – but in fact it was Satan’s defeat. The world that was bound to Satan is now free for God.
Why is the Resurrection important? • The Resurrection shows that there is salvation. • It is not just for now but forever and for everyone.
The Resurrection is an event • We have looked at some of the details surrounding the Resurrection. The Christian Church has always claimed that the resurrection was a historical event. • The church has believed traditionally that Jesus really did rise from the dead.
The Resurrection is a belief. • It is not just a matter of history but a matter of faith. • Some people believe the resurrection happened just the way described in the Gospels. • Some people do not believe that Jesus rose from the dead. Instead it was a legend that grew up about Jesus later on. • Some people say that the resurrection story is only a picture. The disciples lost their faith in Jesus at the crucifixion ad then – they found it again. • Their way of picturing their new found faith was to form the story of Jesus’ resurrection – the story that Jesus had risen bodily from the tomb. What is important to these people is not Easter fact but Easter faith.
The Resurrection is an experience. • Everyone agrees that something happened to the disciples. They clamed they had met and spoken with Jesus. • No Jew would have used the word resurrection to describe a new life after death. It was a new idea – and the church used the word from its very beginning. • It is important to remember that for Christians the event of the Resurrection is not just past history but present experience.
The Resurrection is an inspiration. • The Resurrection is a promise. • The Resurrection is a power. • Christians claim that the resurrection affects their lives even today – whether they believe in a bodily risen Jesus or not. • Easter
Jesus is taken up to heaven. • Luke’s Gospel ends with the Resurrection appearances. But the end of the Gospel is not really an end – it is a beginning. • For Luke wrote not one book but two. And Luke's second book The Acts of the Apostles, shows the Gospel message reaching out through the world. It records the birth and the early days of the Christian Church.
The last episode in Luke’s Gospel is known traditionally as the Ascension. • The Ascension is when Jesus is taken up to heaven. This event marks the end of Jesus’ resurrection appearances.
The disciples have had quite a day, according to Luke! They have learned that Jesus is risen. • They have actually seen him, eaten with him, and been taught by him. And now Jesus takes his disciples out of Jerusalem to Bethany.
He blesses them. • Jesus then leaves his disciples and is taken up to heaven. • The disciples worship Jesus and return to Jerusalem. • The disciples are filled with great joy. Joy is a constant theme throughout the Gospel of Luke. • The disciples spend their time in the Temple at Jerusalem, giving thanks to God.