What is Easter?!?!?!
You know that scene in Wall-E where the captain asks Auto a question and it leads to a million more? That is EXACTLY what happened, when I began to write. (Plus, Wall-E is one of my favorite movies ❤).
1) What is “Easter?” and why it matters.
That time of year when we remember [and celebrate] the resurrection of “Jesus Christ” three days after He was crucified (or hung to death), on a cross. Because he came back to life, to those who believe this happened, the promise of going to heaven after death can be trusted (1 Corinthians 15:12-15).
2) Who is “Jesus Christ?” and why He matters.
(Although I know and love him dearly, defining who He is, simply, is VERY challenging. Did I mention this was challenging?). In the beginning (and I am not even going to comment on that one other than: whenever God wanted the beginning to begin), God created the heavens and the Earth (Genesis 1:1). Adam, the first hand-made man, was given one rule, and he broke it. As a result of his disobedience, man was cursed to now die, and perfect Earth was no longer perfect. The solution (aka the “Gospel”): God sent His one and only holy son to be born as a man, live a perfect life and end the curse (of death) by sacrificing Himself on the cross (Easter) in the place of all who believe (John 3:16).
3) What is “Lent?” and what it symbolizes.
A period of approximately 40 days starting on “Ash Wednesday,” leading up to Easter. The duration of Lent is symbolic because Jesus was tempted in the wilderness for 40 days prior to beginning his ministry and teachings (books of Matthew, Mark &/or Luke). Those observing the 40-or so day tradition mimic Christ in committing to get closer to God, ask Him for forgiveness for their wrongs and give Him thanks, prior to Easter. Some examples include: fasting and prayer.
4) What is “fasting?” and what it is not.
Throughout the bible, there are many examples of when people fasted for different reasons: i.e. for healing, wisdom and forgiveness. But, fasting, in and of itself, is refraining from eating or drinking anything other than water, in an effort to deny one’s body the nourishment it craves, to draw closer to God and be strengthened, spiritually. Fasting is NOT to be confused with temporarily giving something up the bible clearly says is wrong, i.e. lying, having sex with a boyfriend or watching porn. These behaviors should be “repented” of, see #7.
5) What is “Good Friday?” and what made it good.
The Friday before Easter, Good Friday marks the day Jesus was tried, convicted and crucified for claiming to be the perfect son of God. It is good news for all who believe this [plus His resurrection] to be true, because there is no other way to get to heaven.
6) What is “Ash Wednesday?” and its declaration.
On Ash Wednesday, palm branch ashes are used to mark the forehead of those that believe what Jesus did at the cross; it is a symbolic declaration to others around you. The ashes are sometimes followed with the statements: “Repent, and believe in the Gospel (see #2)” or “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Palm branches are used to commemorate the branches that were laid on the road as Jesus entered into Jerusalem, a week before his resurrection on Easter.
7) What does it mean to “repent?” and live a holy life.
To change directions or turn from i.e. a willful, sinful life. When Jesus was alive, He ‘ate with sinners and tax collectors,’ but He always called them to repent and live a pure and holy life, as He did. It does not mean you must live perfectly, but you must perfectly live to try.
8) Are you a “bride of Christ?” and how you can know.
Easter is more than 40 days of sacrifice and ashes. Rituals earn us nothing. And living our best, daily, is not even good enough to get to heaven. While these practices are not bad, they cannot replace what is paramount. Only those that believe what Christ did at the cross will go to heaven when they die and be united to their “groom,” Jesus. And while it is true God is loving and forgiving, He hates sin, which is why He sent His son in the first place. God does not host a buffet where we can select heaven, blessings and success while skipping over trials, surrender and obedience. He came so we could become more like Him, and be with Him forever, as His “bride.” And as a bride longs for her wedding, may we long and prepare for the day we can be forever united with Jesus Christ [and not just at Easter season].