Firstly, apologies for ages with no posts. On top of the busy-ness of church and study, we have moved house, so life has been a bit hectic! But I hope to get back to blogging again now, and by way of a start here is my latest contribution to the Beverley Guardian.
This weekend we celebrate Easter, when Christians remember the death of Jesus Christ. It is one of two Christian festivals which are observed in some way by people outside the church: shops will shut, time will be taken off work, and lots of chocolate will be eaten.
The other festival is of course Christmas, which is the larger occasion for most people, but for the church it is, or should be, Easter which is the main festival. It has been argued that you can’t have Easter without Christmas – Jesus couldn’t die unless he was first born. But I would suggest that without Easter there is no need for Christmas. If he wasn’t going to die there would be no point in Jesus having been born.
The events in the life of Jesus which took place over the first Easter weekend make for unpleasant reading. An innocent man stripped of his dignity, betrayed, tortured, beaten, subjected to a mock trial and condemned to death in a miscarriage of justice that would not look out of place in the most corrupt of dictatorships. There is nothing uncommon about political executions or people dying for their religious beliefs. It has happened in our own country in the past and sadly still occurs almost daily around the world today. But we don’t remember the names of most of the victims even two years later, never mind 2000. So what makes Jesus different?
For Christians, the answer is that the death of Jesus was not just the result of a plot between authoritarian religious leaders and the occupying Roman political power. It was the willing act of a man who claimed that he was God and that his death would achieve something. On the first Good Friday, Jesus died the death that was due to each of us, as rebels and outcasts, so that we no longer have to die in that way. The story doesn’t end on Good Friday, and Jesus coming back to life on Easter Sunday shows the new life which is now available to each of us through what he has done.
This is why the events of Easter are the biggest festival in the Christian calendar. They were the most important events in the life of Jesus, and indeed in the history of the world. In one weekend God did everything that was necessary to deal with evil, suffering, and death, and offer a new way of life lived in him and through him. So yes, Christmas is important, but for me Easter will always be the most meaningful weekend of the year.