The Reason for Easter

April 21 was Easter Sunday, the day that millions of Christians traditionally celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.  The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most important event in the Bible, indeed the most important event in human history.  The resurrection of Jesus Christ is what sets Christianity apart from all other religions.  Christian scholar Henry Morris wrote, "The truth that Jesus Christ rose from the dead sets Christianity apart from all religious systems.  Many of the world’s religions look back to the martyrdom of their leader/founder.  None but Christianity look back to an empty tomb which was once contained His body.  Only in Christianity has the slain martyr risen from the grave."  The resurrection of Jesus Christ is so foundational to Christianity that the Christian faith stands or falls on its reality:

1 Corinthians 15:14

John Blanchard wrote in “Jesus: Dead or Alive,” “If Jesus is now no more than a handful of dust and bones slowly crumbling away somewhere on the outskirts of Jerusalem, the entire Christian faith lies buried with him; all its martyrs were mistaken, all its reformers were deluded, all its church buildings are monuments to a myth, all its services are senseless and Easter Day is a sick joke.  What is more, the millions of people who claim that he is a living Saviour who is transforming their lives are living in cloud cuckoo land.”

So, why do we believe that Jesus rose from the dead?  There are good reasons to believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  John Piper presents eight compelling reasons why the biblical account of the resurrection of Jesus Christ should be received as historical fact.  English Scholar Brooke Foss Wescott summed up the case like this: “Taking all the evidence together, it is not too much to say that there is no historic incident better or more variously supported than the resurrection of Christ.”

But the question we’re going to concentrate on in this post is: why?  Why did Jesus die and rise again?  What’s the reason for Easter?

  1. The Reason for Christ’s Death

Romans 4:25

“Delivered up” is the language of sacrifice.  Jesus was delivered up in the same way that animals were delivered up to be sacrificed in the OT.  But who delivered up Jesus to die as a sacrifice?

Romans 8:32

Acts 2:23

At the same time, Jesus voluntarily laid down His life:

John 10:11

John 10:17-18

Jesus was delivered up as a sacrifice for what?  “for our trespasses [offences, transgressions, sins],” which means a lapse or deviation from truth and uprightness; an arrow missing its mark; a plumb line that’s out of plumb; a standard that is not met."

Here's how the Westminster Shorter Catechism defines sin in Question 14: “What is sin?  Sin is any lack of conformity to, or transgression of, the law of God.”

J.C. Ryle (“Holiness”): “A sin…consists in doing, saying, thinking, or imagining anything that is not in perfect conformity with the mind and law of God.”

Rom. 3:23; 6:23

Jesus died as a sacrifice for our sins:

Isaiah 53:5-6

This is was the true horror of the cross for Jesus…

  1. The Reason for Christ’s Resurrection

“[Jesus] was raised for our justification.”

“Justification” is a legal term.  It's the opposite of condemnation.  In a legal sense, justification refers to a judicial verdict of righteous, not just not guilty.  Our justification is based on Christ’s resurrection.  Christ’s resurrection is God’s proof that God has accepted Christ’s death as payment in full for our sins:

Hebrews 10:12

But not everyone will be saved.  So, what’s the difference between those who are saved and those who are condemned?  How do you get what Jesus offers?

  1. What you must do

Rom 4:24; 5:1-2

In the Bible, the main idea of "believe" or to have "faith" is "trust."  John Paton was a missionary last century to cannibals in the New Hebrides. When translating one of the gospels into a local language, he had a problem finding a word or phrase in their language that was equivalent to the New Testament's concept of trusting in Christ. The islanders trusted nobody and there was no word for "trust" in their language. His native assistant entered the room and Paton had an idea. "What am I doing?" Paton asked. The man replied that he was sitting at his desk. Paton then raised both feet off the floor and sat back on his chair. "What am I doing now?" he asked. In reply, the native used a verb which means "to lean your whole weight upon." This is the expression that Paton used to translate "to believe in" Jesus.

In John Calvin's famous analogy, faith is like an empty, open hand, stretched out towards God, with nothing to offer and everything to receive.  Hymn writer Augustus Toplady put it like this in his famous hymn, “Rock of Ages”: “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the cross I cling; naked, come to thee for dress; helpless, look to thee for grace; foul, I to the fountain fly; wash me, Savior, or I die.”

This is the main reason why Jesus was raised from the dead.  Was Jesus delievered up for your sins?  Was Jesus raised from the dead for your justification?  Are you trusting in Jesus as your Lord and Savior?  Turn from your sinful lifestyle and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ today and He will save you from your sins!