The Easter season signals spring and new life. The symbols of Easter, chicks and bunnies and eggs and crosses and lilies and early dawn, all represent fresh beginnings.
Over the centuries, the Easter celebration of an event in early Christian history has also absorbed some traces of pagan springtime festivals and rituals. But for Christians, the events that Easter commemorates are central to all their beliefs and hopes.
The Biblical Account of Easter Week
Easter week is a celebration and remembrance of events marking the end of Jesus Christ’s earthly life as related in the Bible. Early in the week, Jesus had gone to Jerusalem where he was greeted and cheered by crowds of people. He seemed to be riding on a swell of popularity, and his followers thought he was now going to set up a new kingdom and free the Jews from Roman rule.
But the religious authorities in Jerusalem feared his influence on the people and plotted to have him killed. Through a series of events, he was betrayed by one of his own, hand-picked disciples and arrested. Brought before both the Roman and religious rulers, he refused to defend himself, and he was taken out of the city and executed.
It’s said that the disciples of Jesus scattered and went into hiding, fearing for their own lives. His enemies thought they had wiped out his influence and power over the people. Yet, two days later, the tomb in which his body had been put to rest was found empty, and soon there were rumors that the man who had claimed to be God had come back to life and had actually been seen by many people.
The Importance of Christ’s Resurrection
Today, many people accept that Jesus was a historical figure and a great teacher, but do not think he was the son of God. Some do not accept the idea that he is alive today. Every person decides for himself whether or not he believes the stories of this man being executed and then coming back from the dead.
Even the Bible admits that if Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead, then belief in him is foolishness. The apostle Paul writes, “And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.” (1 Corinthians 15:14, 19 NLT)
The beliefs of Christians are anchored in these events now called Holy Week. All of Jesus Christ’s life and his mission on earth culminated at this time. His death made it possible for mankind to have a right relationship with God, and his resurrection a few days later broke the power of death.
Christians believe that because Jesus Christ defeated death, then believers will also have the gift of a new life after physical death. The apostle Paul writes that Christ was the first of a “great harvest of all who have died” and “the resurrection from the dead has begun through one man.” (1 Corinthians 15:20,21 NLT)
Jesus himself promised his followers, “Anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life.” (John 3:36 NLT)
For Christians, Easter week is the basis of all their hope. In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis sums it up: “We shall also share his conquest of death and find a new life after we have died and in it become perfect, and perfectly happy, creatures.