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.