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The relevance of Easter

Rev. Dr. Neil Acheampong
Covenant Family Chapel

(3/1) Easter is one of the holidays on our national calendar which seem to have a religious overtone but others do not see it as such.

Over the years American society has become more diverse when it comes to religion. As a result, defining the national holidays and celebrations has also been affected by these religious changes in a very drastic way.

In a survey conducted by the BARNA Group, in February of 2010, researchers explored Americansí definition of the Easter holiday. They asked citizens how they would describe what Easter means to them, personally. The results show that 67% of Americans consider Easter to be a religious holiday, but 42% identify the resurrection of Jesus as the underlying meaning.

For most people, Easter validates everything Jesus said; that He will die, be buried, and rise from the dead. For others, Easter is seen as a guarantee for the resurrection of the human body on judgment day. Yet for quite a significant number of people, Easter is a time of bunnies, eggs, and other traditions. But is that all that Easter is about? We must understand how Easter affects us in the here and now. If Jesus was raised from the dead, how does it relate to you and me? What is its relevance for us today?

Let us begin examining these questions using a scripture text as a reference because of the religious nature of the holiday. In the bible book of Ephesians chapter one and verses nineteen to twenty-three. Here Paul the Apostle writes to the church in Ephesus, and he tells them he is praying for them. His prayer reveals his concern for these Ephesians believers. That they will keep the resurrection of Jesus or Easter front and center. He saysÖ.

19 I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of Godís power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at Godís right hand in the heavenly realms. 21 Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything elseónot only in this world but also in the world to come. 22 God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. 23 And the church is his body; it is made complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself. (Ephesians 1:19-23, New Living Translation)

In the same letter Paul admonishes not only the Ephesian believers but also us today, that even though we were dead in our sins before we became Christians, when we received Christ into our hearts, Jesusí death, burial, and resurrection, that is Easter ought to mean something different to us. Notice what Paul says in the first to the sixth verse of the second chapter of Ephesians Ö.

1 Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. 2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devilóthe commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. 3 All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature, we were subject to Godís anger, just like everyone else. 4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by Godís grace that you have been saved!) 6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:1-6, New Living Translation)

From these two scripture texts, we can infer several things.

First, God demonstrated a level of power to raise Jesus from the dead. Secondly, when Jesus was raised from the dead, He was seated in the heavenly realms. Thirdly, Jesus was raised (as a position of honor) far above principalities, powers, might, and dominion. Fourthly, when Jesus was raised for the dead, we (humans) were raised spiritually. Fifthly, we were raised (positionally) to sit with Christ in the heavenly realms. How do these principles relate to Easter? Plain and simple.

If God can raise Christ Jesus from the dead, then He can raise anything including your dead marriage, your terminal sickness, your dead business, etc. But you will agree with me that this is not the case in the life of many Christians. Why? Because we have a wrong mindset about why Jesus came. We think Jesus came to exempt us from our problems, perfect things, and prevent Satan from attacking us. But Jesus did not come to exempt us from problems but to empower us to handle our problems. Secondly, Jesus did not come to make things perfect, but to make things possible. Thirdly, Jesus did not come to prevent Satan from attacking us but to protect us from Satanic attacks as we live in obedience to His word, the bible. This means that we should look to God for empowerment to handle our issues. So in a nutshell, Easter means if God raised Jesus with a level of power, He (God) could do the same with our predicaments. To experience this empowerment, we must be filled with the Holy Spirit, and also we must tap into this power by cultivating a relationship with the Holy Spirit who is resident in us as Christians.

Let me tie all this together with a story of a Pike fish. Researchers put a glass block separation between a pike fish and the baitfish in the same fish tank. The pike fish tried several times to get to the baitfish but could not because of the glass barrier. After a while, the researchers removed the glass barrier, and the pike fish did not make any attempt to catch the bait fish because in its mind the barrier was still there even though it was removed. Like the Pike fish, many people are so used to problems and bondage that when there is available power to set them free, they tend not to even see it. I pray that as we celebrate Easter we rise and begin to appropriate the resurrection power into our lives. So the relevance of Easter is that we can deal with life challenges because the power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead is also available to us through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.