If you asked many Christians what the highest holy day of their faith would be, they would say Christmas. While truly significant and necessary, the birth of Christ would mean nothing to us unless it was fulfilled in the Resurrection.
There are also churchgoers who we refer to as “Chreaster” Christians, because they only attend church on Christmas and Easter. While we may mumble under our breath on these holy days, as we try to find a parking spot and room in a pew at our regular parish, at lease these churchgoers are celebrating the fulfillment of the life of Christ.
Easter is truly the highest holy day of them all. Beyond Christmas (Christ coming into the world) and even his passion and death on the cross is his bodily Resurrection and fulfillment of all he had promised.
Lunatic, Liar, or Lord
You see, Christ was one of three things. Either he was a liar, a lunatic, or he was who he said he was; the Son of God! We simply cannot believe that he was only a prophet without also believing he was delusional, especially when he proclaimed himself to be the Son of God, the one who would rise on the third day. Surely none of the prophets ever said these things about themselves. Also, on the road to Emmaus, Jesus corrected the two men who called him a prophet. He taught these men how all the prophesies in Scripture were fulfilled through him: the Messiah.
In John 10:36, Jesus challenges the Jews who were prepared to stone him for blasphemy, because he said he was the Son of God. Jesus recalls Psalm 82:6, which states, “I say, ‘You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you.'” Then Jesus asks the Jews how Scripture can state that they are gods, and yet Jesus had to be sent to them?
If God elevates those who are made sons of the Most High through adoption and covenant, then how is it they cannot believe what God is doing through Christ? For he is the one Scripture foretold, consecrated by the Father to be sent into the world, and yet the Jews cannot believe he is the Son of God. But even if they cannot believe this, Jesus asks them to believe in the works of the Father, that he is doing.
If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father. ~John 10:37-38
Who is God?
The three Persons of the Trinity are defined by relationship. Together they created all things out of nothing, and shaped man in their image. God the Father has prepared and protected the Hebrew people for generations. Through the Hebrews he sent prophets and prefiguements of Christ. He gave his law of salvation to them and set up a royal priesthood through them. God himself dwelt among them in the Arc of the Covenant:
I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. ~Exodus 3:6
The Father brings freedom to those oppressed and to those in slavery. God provides in the wilderness and prepares a land of abundance for his people. He does not abandon those who love him:
I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. ~Exodus 20:2
Who is The Son?
The Son is the Second Person of the Trinity, obedient to his Father in all things. He is the living Word of God, who took on flesh and came into the world as a slave (Jew). He is the perfect sacrificial lamb of the Passover, the only sacrifice to save and redeem humanity for all time.
For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me; and this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up at the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. ~John 6:38-40
Jesus is the bread of life. He is the eternal fulfillment of the manna given to the Jews in the dessert and the Passover lamb. The flesh and blood of Jesus redeem and feed us with something infinitely greater than food for the mortal body. The bread of Christ is salvific for our souls! All of this is done through the Father and in perpetual union and obedience to him:
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. ~John 6:53-57
Jesus is the true lover of our souls. His communion with the Father is an example of the relationship he seeks with us. As a bridegroom, he lays his life down for his Church, and therefore for each of us:
I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. ~John 10:14-15
I am the Resurrection
The Resurrection is not only an event, but it is a Person, a Divine Person; Jesus Christ! Through him, we are resurrected after experiencing bodily death. Through him, we live on into eternity:
I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. ~John 11:25-26
Truly, the greatest promise Jesus made was that he himself would rise after his own death, and that we also would rise through him in death. If this never came to fruition, then he was not the Christ, the Son of God. For this reason, the tomb was guarded for three days, so that a false resurrection could not be staged:
Next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember how that imposter said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ Therefore order the sepulchre to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away, and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.” ~Matthew 27:62-64
When the women went to the tomb on the third day, they were told by angels that Jesus had risen from the dead. They reported this to the Apostles, who ran to the tomb themselves to see. When Jesus appeared to them, he opened their minds so that they could understand the Scriptures and their role as witnesses and preachers in his name. Jesus stayed with them for 40 days in his resurrected body, until his ascension into heaven.
Who is The Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity, the only one who comprehends the thoughts of God and makes known Christ to us. He is consubstantial and inseparable with God the Father and Son. He overshadowed Mary at the annunciation, and she conceived Jesus in her womb.
The Holy Spirit was with Jesus when he came to be baptized in the Jordan, and he gave witness to Christ. Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to dwell with the Apostles after his ascension, that they might be clothed in power from on high:
But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth. ~Acts 1:8
The Holy Spirit is our counselor, the Spirit of Truth. Followers of Christ know him, even when the world does not recognize him:
If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will pray to the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you. ~John 14:15-17
Now in my opinion there is no better explanation of the need for the Resurrection than that of Paul’s in 1 Corinthians 15. The first man, Adam, came from the earth and like him we are dust. The second man, Christ, came from heaven, and through the same Spirit we also inherit heaven. But if there was no Resurrection, then we have been deceived and our faith is in vain:
Now if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied.
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. ~1 Corinthians 15:12-21
Copyright 2017 Kimberly Cook