4 Things Christians Miss about Easter
- Liberty University Sponsored Article
- 2016 21 Mar
With the budding flowers, jelly beans, hidden eggs, and Easter bunny, it’s easy to get distracted from the heart of the Easter holiday. Even for Christians who celebrate Easter Sunday in church and know the Resurrection story from Scripture well, there are still things we might miss.
Here are four things in the Gospel stories of Jesus's death and resurrection that you might not have realized before:
The symbolism of the bread and wine add to all the symbolism of the Passover meal. As the Passover meal is now traditionally a Jewish custom, many Christians are probably unfamiliar with the significance of all the meal's elements. Here are a few examples, although this isn't the complete Passover meal: lamb symbolizes the sacrifice the Hebrews made the night they fled Egypt; an egg symbolizes fertility, springtime, and renewal; bitter herbs bring to mind the bitterness of slavery; etc. At the core, Passover is a meal that commemorates God's deliverance of His people from Egypt. The Last Supper that Jesus had with his disciples took place on the day of the Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. The power of this story is that Jesus is the lamb which will be sacrificed. He tells his dearest friends, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer," readily acknowledging that the road ahead of him will be a tortuous one. He illustrates this further by breaking bread for these men, giving thanks and telling them, "This is my body given for you." He continues with the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you." He uses clearly symbolic examples that the men literally ingest to make the point that what He is about to do is hugely important and dramatically life-changing when it is internalized.
Although Jesus could have called on 72,000 angels (twelve legions) to save him, He willingly submits and is fully human throughout the entire process. This is the most stunning part of this entire story to me. I shudder even at pictures of Jesus on the cross, so deeply humbled by how horribly painful and agonizing His sacrifice was, yet He endured it for our salvation. Jesus says in Matthew 26:53, "Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legion of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen this way?" Jesus, although divine, was fully human throughout every awful step of the journey that led him to the worst death imaginable. Don’t miss that none of this was easy or painless for Jesus. In Luke 22:44, as Jesus prepares for what He knows is coming, the Bible says, "And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground." Jesus was begging for there to be another way for the Father's will to be done, but He was given enough strength to continue on to the cross.
“It’s not about force,” Dr. Gary Habermas, Liberty University distinguished research professor of apologetics and philosophy said. “It’s not about world conquest, it’s not about taking over from Pilate, it’s not about the God of this world which is what Satan is called later in the New Testament. It’s not about running this world-- it’s about running God’s kingdom. Jesus’ number one teaching is the Kingdom of God and how to get there...what it is and what are the keys.” Jesus knew that the key for the salvation of His people was His death and His resurrection, and He submitted to the will of God through to the end of his human life and His return to glory with His Father.
Jesus Barabbas's name is not a random one. In Matthew 27:11-26, we see Jesus, the Christ, before Pilate. It was the governor’s custom at the festival to release one prisoner that the crowd chose, and Pilate gave them a choice between two this time. They could release Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who was called the Messiah. As you probably know, Barabbas was freed in place of Jesus, even though Pilate’s wife sent him a message saying Jesus was innocent. The people demanded that Jesus be crucified while Barabbas was released. What you might not know is that the name “Barabbas” means “son of [his] father.” This is a clear contrast to Jesus Christ, as we know He is the heavenly Son of his Father, God. The crowd choosing Barabbas over Jesus shows they were acting out of self-interest, not knowing or believing that Jesus was truly the Son of God and the true Messiah.
The tomb that Jesus was buried in was not customary for all burials. “Probably many people assume that Jews always got buried in limestone tombs, but actually that was pretty much only in the Jerusalem area and most Jews got buried in rectangular holes in the ground,” Habermas said. “The Jews had a lot of respect for bodies, since bodies were created by God.” Tombs like the one Jesus was in were common more for the rich, so the fact that He was buried in a tomb was most likely a way of honoring Him after death, Habermas explained. It reminds us of the woman in Matthew 26:6-12 who poured expensive perfume on the head of Jesus as a beautiful act to prepare Him for His burial. Whether these people fully understood who Jesus was or not, they gave Him the very best of what they had as ways of honoring Him, and we shouldn’t miss that.
Let us not miss the meaning of this essential story-- Christ has both literally and symbolically given His body and blood for our salvation, Jesus was both fully God and fully man, He is the son of our Heavenly Father and our true Messiah, and we should honor Him with our lives in response.
This Easter, we invite you to revisit the story of the death and resurrection of our Savior in the Gospels and pay attention to the details you might have missed before. Hallelujah-- He is risen indeed!
What other things have you found to be significant in the Easter story? Is there anything else you would add to this list?
Written by Rachel Dawson, editor for BibleStudyTools.com. Sponsored by Liberty University, training champions for Christ since 1971; and Liberty University Online, the largest Christian university in the world with over 200 online programs.
Publication date: March 21, 2016