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The Easter Story

Every spring, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ by hiding colored eggs and chocolate bunnies for our children. Little girls run around in white frilly dresses and boys sport handsome braces to hold up well-pressed trousers. It's nice to attend church Easter morning wearing our new best clothes.

Most of us are aware that the celebration of Christ's resurrection has nothing to do with fluffy chicks and bunnies, and this book is not a lecture about ancient spring fertility religions. Many people are even aware that the word “Easter” comes from the name of a fertility goddess, the famous Ishtar of Babylonian fame. There are other misconceptions about our third favorite sugar-coma holiday, misconceptions that I want to consider and unravel.

When we celebrate “Easter” in our culture, we are no longer offering sacrifices to Ishtar. It's the term we use to refer to the Christian holiday that derived from the Jewish Passover. We are celebrating the atoning death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. It's astonishing to discover that much of what we've been taught about Easter are misconceptions. Some of them very deliberate misconceptions, and I want to get into the background of some of these myths and misunderstandings that plague the Easter story. What really happened that day in Judea two millennia ago?

Mel Gibson did a phenomenal job in his effort to reproduce the brutal abuse that Jesus Christ suffered that fateful morning. Despite some artistic license, The Passion of the Christ is a very moving cinematic portrayal of Christ's crucifixion, and Jesus did suffer enormously at the hands of the Roman soldiers. However, I think the film has a major shortcoming; it creates the impression that the crucifixion was a tragedy. That is one of the big misconceptions about the death of Jesus Christ — that it was a tragedy. Certainly, those standing at the foot of the cross that day felt the battle had just been lost. Their Lord, Master and Friend was being slaughtered, and all their dreams of His conquering Rome and setting up His kingdom were smashed to bits. However, our Lord's death wasn't a tragedy. It was the greatest achievement of all time. It was a massive triumph, and that victory was completed three days later when Jesus rose from the dead as the Conqueror over sin and death.

We need to recognize that Christ's death was not an accident or an afterthought. Its specifications were laid down before the foundation of the world. It was the climax of a mission. Jesus came to earth to undo the damage done by Adam, to cancel the curse and buy back our lives from destruction.

The second shortcoming of Gibson's movie is that it doesn't get across who Jesus really is. It assumes the audience already knows, so it doesn't bring full attention to the true identity of Jesus. The Creator Himself became incarnate to die on our behalf.

Those are two critical issues that we must confront, the death of Christ was an achievement planned from the beginning of the world, and the Creator Himself died on that cross.

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The Importance of the Resurrection

While living in Portsmouth, England in 2001 the local newspaper reported a shocking statistic that saddened me to my very core. In the runup to the Easter holiday season 50 members of church clergy were asked about their congregation's beliefs; 48% said they “Did NOT Believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus” and 60% said they “Believed that the spirit of Easter had been lost in favor of bunnies and Easter eggs.” Needless to say, that report revealed a sickening trend of many churches around the world who have left the simplicity of preaching the whole gospel in favor of a man-centered and man-pleasing messages.

The substance of the Gospel was clearly laid out by the apostle Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians. He writes:

“Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you--unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,”

1 Corinthians 15:1-4

Clearly the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus is key in the declaration of the Gospel to the world.

No other event in history has undergone such ridiculous historic reconstructionism. It seems that every so-called religious scholar (scoffer) has an alternative narrative for this foundational doctrine of the Christian Church. This is probably because no other event in history of mankind is as important to the Christian faith as the resurrection of Jesus.

Why? Not because we would not be able to appreciate the insight of His teaching without this event. Many teachers have said interesting things and have died for their beliefs. Not so we can simply incorporate into our lives the motto of “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Many leaders have given mankind cleaver mottos by which we can live.

The resurrection of Jesus sets Christianity apart from all other world religious systems. The apostle Paul made that quite clear when he explained to the Corinthian Church:

“Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.”

1 Corinthians 15:12-19

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In Loving Memory of Chuck Missler

Koinonia House announces the death of its Founder and retired Board Chairman, Dr. Charles W. “Chuck” Missler. He was 83 years old, and passed away peacefully at his home in Reporoa, New Zealand. He was preceded in death by his wife Nancy and his two sons, Charles “Chip” and Mark. He is survived by two daughters, Lisa Bright and Meshell Missler, and eight grandchildren. Continue Reading →

Watch the Celebration of Life Service →  Watch the Funeral Service →