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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

DENNIS PATRICK: THREE CHEERS FOR EASTER

Easter celebrates the most important occasion in the Christian year. Most Americans know Easter as a Christian holiday that usually falls in the month of April marking the season of spring. Beyond that, knowledge of the holiday often is rather sketchy.

For the true believer, Christmas is important in celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Christmas, however, is overshadowed by the defeat of sin and death brought about by the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the Second Person of the Trinity. This is Easter.

Easter is more than fun and food. Bunnies, colored eggs, and candy obscure Easter’s meaning.

Explicitly, the holiday celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead to reconcile a broken and rebellious humanity to its Creator. This belief is central to the Christian faith. Without the resurrection of Jesus the man, His life and death would be an ordinary event bearing no significance. There would be nothing unique about His moral teaching. Similar teaching had been spoken by sages before and after Him. Beyond the historic fact of His resurrection, His claims would be outrageous. Only a madman would claim He was the Son of God. Many sources and witnesses say He was not mad. Without the resurrection there would be no Christianity, no overcoming of death, no rebirth, no reconciliation between Creator and created, no hope for life eternal.

Christians have always invoked the Biblical admonition, “By their fruits you shall know them.” Inspired by the risen Christ, deeply held Christian beliefs shaped the character of believers and impelled them to action. Some of the most notable contributions to western culture flowed from Christian precepts.

On the basis of the improbable miracle of the resurrection it is no wonder non-believers reject Jesus Christ. Any notion of the resurrection is foolishness to non-believers. This has been the story of the ages and it is no different story today.

What is not so foolish are results born of true believers who embraced the resurrection of Jesus in the face of trial, tribulation, and death. It is encouraging to reflect on the benefits bestowed upon cultures of this world through Christian influence. Here are a few of those benefits.

            --Established a multitude of hospitals throughout the world from the Middle Ages onward.

            --Founded many universities and centers of learning also dating from the Middle Ages.

            --Fostered literacy and education for all people across cultures.

            --Developed the economic basis of what is today known as free-enterprise.

            --Gave the world the foundation of representative government.

            --Provided the genesis of civil liberties.

            --Initiated the centuries-long struggle against slavery.

            --Laid the foundation of modern science.

            --Elevated women to a status of equality.

            --Elevated the common man to a status of equality.

            --Established many continuing charities and benevolent organizations.

            --Laid the groundwork for higher standards of justice.

            --Provided a unique sense of value of human life with regard to the elderly, infirm, and unborn.

            --Codified and wrote many of the world’s languages.

            --Inspired some of the world’s greatest works of art, music, and literature.

            --Transformed untold numbers of lives into people of value in their respective cultures.

This rich endowment stems from the spread and impact of the Gospel, a fundamental goal of Christianity, by those who believed in, lived by, and sacrificed for that Gospel. Today, whether from naiveté or historical illiteracy, modern culture in general, and western culture in particular, is sadly separated from a knowledge of its own roots.

Far from the charge of ethnocentricity as leveled by some, these contributions to the world have spanned the globe with a positive ethnic-neutral impact on every culture touched for almost two millennia.

An anonymous piece written in the nineteenth century capsulizes the impact of Jesus Christ and those who, for hundreds of years after his resurrection, proclaimed His Good News.

“He was born in an obscure village....He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family or owned a home. He didn’t go to college. He never visited a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place where He was born. He did none of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself....Nineteen centuries (sic) have come and gone, and today He is the central figure of the human race.

“All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man on this earth as much as that one solitary life.”

What if Jesus had not been born, crucified, died, buried, and resurrected? Without a doubt ours would be a far, far different world. Three cheers for Easter!

 

Dennis M. Patrick can be contacted at (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

 

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