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An Easter Message Of Hope

By Dr Lloyd C Smith

President of the Bahamas National Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention

Easter commemorates and is the climax of all the events that transpired during what we call Passion Week; from the quiet mystery to the exultant joy of the resurrection.

Easter is the most important Christian and/or religious holiday, and the one celebrated with the greatest joy.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ on that glorious Easter morning brought about a turning point in all of history and opens up to us the possibility of participating in the life of our Lord and Saviour.

Although the Christian Church pauses to celebrate this most festive and joyous of all religious holidays, it is sad to say many do not understand its true meaning and indeed what we are celebrating.

From the outset, note that the word “Easter” does not appear in the Bible and nor are the early church celebrations of Christ’s resurrection mentioned in the holy scriptures.

However, Easter, like Christmas, is a tradition that developed later in church history and has made a tremendous impact on Christianity down through the ages.

The meaning of Easter is Jesus Christ’s victory over death. His resurrection symbolises the eternal life that is granted to all who believe in Him.

The meaning of Easter also symbolises the complete verification of all that Jesus preached and taught during His three-year ministry.

On one occasion, prophetically speaking about His death, He said “destroy this temple and I will build it up in three days.”

Knowing the length of time that it took to build the temple in Jerusalem, His followers accused him of blasphemy. In no way could He rebuild the temple in three days.

As alluded to, Jesus was referring to His death and resurrection which stands as the centre of our faith.

If our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ had not risen from the dead, if He had merely died and not been resurrected, He would have been considered just another teacher or rabbi.

But thanks be to God, His resurrection changed all that and gave final and irrefutable proof that He was really the Son of God and that He had conquered death once and for all.

Against that backdrop, today the meaning of Easter for millions of Christians is one of honouring and recognising Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead, and His glorious promises of eternal life for all who believe in Him.

As we take another look at the story of Easter, note that this most eventful day in history has other meanings as well. Because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, many of our nation’s sons and daughters can testify that their lives were also changed.

People dealing with drug addiction or alcoholism become despaired. Now these same people are transformed; they have new life, new hopes, and new possibilities.

The resurrection is an invitation to look around to see transformation, to see what evil is being changed, what is immature becoming adult; and how one is transported from darkness to walk into His marvellous light.

In reflecting on what Easter is all about, note that the season that is the culmination of Lent has many glorious dimensions – the flowers, the music, the feasting – but the central purpose of the day is to reflect upon the gospel evidence and confirm what we believe in our hearts: Jesus is truly the Son of God.

Everything in a spiritual life begins with Easter; it is the centre of our faith in the Church and is at the heart of Christianity.

On Good Friday, Jesus Christ was executed by crucifixion. His body was taken down from the cross and buried in Joseph’s borrowed tomb.

The writers of the gospel each give an account that the tomb was guarded and a huge stone was rolled across the entrance and sealed so that no one could steal the body.

In a little over 48 hours, the scripture says, some women visited the tomb and found that the stone had been moved and that the tomb was empty.

Jesus himself was seen that day, and for days afterwards by many people.

His followers realised that God had raised Jesus from the dead.

During His day, and even today, there are many who still refute that Jesus was in fact raised from the dead. Many leaders of religious cults that had come before declared they were the Messiah, however, they are all dead and remain locked up in their tombs, but Jesus our Lord and Saviour remains alive forever and ever.

He is risen just as the prophets foretold! He is risen just as He said would happen. He is risen and His people declare it this day.

As a church, we celebrate the glory of His resurrection with faces unveiled. We celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ in our worship.

We celebrate the resurrection of Jesus in our prayers and praises. We celebrate the resurrection of Jesus in the preached word. We celebrate the resurrection of Jesus in our singing.

One of the great hymns that encapsulates the story of the resurrection, which was written by John S B Monsell (1811-1875) and that we love to sing during this most joyous time of year, says:

“Christ is risen! Alleluia! Risen our victorious head!

Sing his praises! Alleluia! Christ is risen from the dead!

Gratefully our hearts adore him as his light once more appears,

bowing down in joy before him, rising up from grief’s and tears.

Christ is risen! Alleluia! Risen our victorious head!

Sing his praises! Alleluia! Christ is risen from the dead!

Christ is risen! Henceforth never death or hell shall us enthral.

We are Christ’s, in him forever we have triumphed over all.

All the doubting and dejection of our trembling hearts have ceased;

hail the day of resurrection! Let us rise and keep the feast.

May God help us all to live in the power of His resurrection.”

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