Actually the word Easter has its origins in the passover. The Hebrew word is Pesach (פֶּסַח) meaning the festival of passover. The Greek translation of Pesach (פֶּסַח) is Πάσχα and another Greek word used is Ανασταση which means upstanding, up-rising, resurrection. Now let me ask you a serious question. Aren’t you thrilled to find out that Easter is not the name of a cancerous tumor that grows on a chicken’s ovary. I say that in jest, to bring to light the reality that most people don’t know where the word Easter came from or what it means.
For many people Easter is just another holiday they get to celebrate by eating big meals and watching the kids find eggs in the yard. I will admit I love eating those great big Easter dinners. I can remember how fun it was to point Tyler and Dustin in the direction of eggs I could see. However Easter is about infinitely more than rabbits, eggs, and Easter baskets. So when you greet people with the words, “Happy Easter” it could bring to their minds anything from eggs, to dinners they had with their family. However, if we greeted one another with the salutation of old, “He is risen”. What do you think people would think about then?
That is what Easter is all about. think about what it must have been like for the disciples of Christ on the third day. There hearts were crushed when they saw their master die. Some of them watched, others heard about how humiliating His death was. They were convinced that He was the one. So much so that they were arguing a few days earlier about who was going to sit at His right hand and His left hand in His kingdom. This is why Peter pulled out his sword and cut off the ear of the servant of the High Priest. For them, it was all about throwing off Rome and setting up that earthly kingdom. Jesus was the man who was born, according to the flesh, a son of David. He was the man who could unify the Israelites and lead them into battle.
But now, He is hanging there. His form so marred by the beating that He is hardly recognizable as a man. His nakedness exposed for all the world to see. His face covered with blood and spit. The crowd cries, “He could save others, lets see Him save Himself. Better yet, let God save Him, seeing how He claimed to be the Son of God.” Can you hear them laughing as they taunted. I wonder, Can you find yourself in that crowd? Hey, you who said if we destroy the temple you could rebuild it in three days. How you going to rebuild it when you are fastened to a cross? Then He died.
Think about how defeated all of the followers of Christ were. It was over. Their hope was dead. The one they loved was gone. I mean they left their homes and jobs to follow Him. They really believed there was something different about this guy. He had command over the winds and the waves, but now He is dead. Three days they have been in despair. Trying to wrap their minds around what just happened. They are probably thinking, “why didn’t He let us fight? Why didn’t He even try to defend Himself in the courts? Why didn’t He come down from the cross? Why? Why? Why?
On the third day the ladies decided that they will go to the tomb to pay there respects one more time before going on with their lives. To their amazement He is Risen. The ladies run back to the disciples and become the first ones to greet with that magnificent sentence. I can imagine her breathing hard. Gasping for air and trying to get the words out. They can see that something has happened. She left this morning crying and defeated. Now she is consumed with excitement. Can you see her? Can you hear the words as she cries them? HE IS RISEN! I can hear the disciples asking, Mary what are you talking about? THE LORD! I HAVE SEEN THE LORD! HE IS RISEN! Writing these words makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck. I can imagine that is exactly what happened to the disciples. Peter and John took off running.
This changes everything. I could imagine John saying that to himself as He outruns Peter to the grave. And change everything, it did. For the next forty days Jesus revealed Himself to His followers. Once they saw Him it completely changed their lives. Can you see them as they are walking through the streets of Jerusalem. Or better yet can you hear them as they see their friends along the way. What words do you hear them crying out as they begin running to the friend they saw in the distant. HE IS RISEN! Waving their hands in the air. HEY! HEY! HE IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN!
Should we be any less excited about sharing that news than the disciples? Is it weird for us to great people with those words? He is Risen! I don’t think so. That’s what Easter is about. In fact that’s what every Sunday is about. We come together and remind ourselves and each other that He is Risen. We proclaim to the lost every Sunday that Jesus Christ died a ransom for His people. That they placed Him in a tomb, and three days later He arose.
I hope this Sunday, and everyday for that matter, that the thought that fills your heart and mind is that He is risen. I pray that the salutation that flows from your heart and out your mouth is, HE IS RISEN! I pray the hair stands up on the back of your necks when you hear it spoken back to you. INDEED, HE IS RISEN!
Because He Lives,