“Why do we celebrate Easter?”
Easter is celebrated in countries throughout the world. For some, the traditional festivities center on welcoming the spring season, whereas in other countries the festivities are more religious in tone. For many, Easter is simply a cultural holiday, a time to enjoy other people and eat festive food. Church attendance might be part of the Easter celebrations of many, even if such religious observance is not a regular part of their lives. For many Christians, Easter is a celebration joyfully anticipated throughout the year. It is often a time when those who don’t know Jesus Christ become curious about who He is. Easter is a time when it might feel easier to share the good news of the salvation He brings. It is also a corporate celebration of the reality of Jesus’ resurrection and the life we have in Him. Though we celebrate that reality all year long, Easter is a special time of remembering.
While the word Easter may have pagan origins and certain Easter traditions have absolutely nothing to do with the Bible, the real reason to celebrate Easter is to remember the work of Jesus Christ on the cross and to celebrate the reality of His resurrection.
Celebrating Easter is about rejoicing in the risen Christ. In the days leading up to Easter, we recount His horrific death on the cross. It is a death Jesus died willingly (Mark 10:45; John 10:18). He came to earth as a baby in order to live a perfect human life and one day die as the sacrifice for sin. At Easter time, generally on Good Friday, we remember His sacrifice and thank Him for it.
But it is not only Jesus’ death on the cross that is important. Jesus’ resurrection proclaims His victory over sin and death. Jesus was crucified, died, and was buried. Then He rose back to life, proving He is who He says He is and that He accomplished what He came to earth to accomplish. Jesus Christ is fully God, fully human, and our only Savior. It is because He is risen that we can trust in His sacrifice for our sins and receive new life in Him. His resurrection also demonstrates that His promise to resurrect us one day will come true.
The apostle Paul wrote, “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also” (1 Corinthians 15:3–8). It is this important reality that we pause to focus on and rejoice in at Easter.
Easter is the time to celebrate Jesus’ victory and to celebrate the new life He gives. All can have their sins forgiven and experience new life in Him if they will receive Him in faith. It is fitting that Easter occurs in the springtime. Much like spring is the time when new life buds after the death brought about in winter, so Jesus brings new life to those who were formerly dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1–10). The life Jesus brings is eternal. We celebrate the reality of His death and resurrection every day, and especially at Easter. We can trust Him and worship Him all year through because He is risen!