What is the True Meaning of Easter?
Southern Evangelical Seminary President Dr. Richard Land: Christmas Is the Beginning; Easter is the Culmination—the Victorious Happy Ending
CHARLOTTE, N.C.—Christians around the world are celebrating Holy Week, capped by Easter Sunday—Resurrection Day.
Southern Evangelical Seminary (SES, www.ses.edu) President Dr. Richard Land says the biggest events on the Christian calendar—Christmas and Easter—are also the times church pews are at their fullest.
“For most cultures historically influenced by Christianity, including the America, Christmas is the bigger, social, cultural and economic event,” Land said. “It is often said that in America if you want to know what people think is really important, follow the money. In those terms, Christmas is the winner hands down. But for Christians who take their faith seriously, Easter is the culmination of all history.”
As Christians, we celebrate the birth of the Savior, God Incarnate, the Word made flesh, Land said. That’s Christmas. The cross always casts a shadow over the manger. He was born to suffer and die for the sins of the world, noted in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son that whosever believes in Him should not perish, but have life everlasting.”
“As the Old Testament sacrificial system taught and as the New Testament declares in Hebrews, without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness,” Land continued. “To be our Savior and Lord, Jesus had to die. Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane makes that clear. If there had been any other way to purchase mankind’s salvation without compromising God’s righteousness, God, the perfect Father, would have answered the perfect Son’s prayer and let the cup of death pass from Him. A price had to be paid for sin, and Jesus paid it for us by sacrificing Himself on the cross.”
But His death, while necessary, was not enough, Land added. Golgotha was required. Without the empty tomb, however, it would have been a tragic and meaningless death. As the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians, if Christ has not been raised, preaching is useless and so is faith. But Jesus has been resurrected. “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? They have been swallowed up in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
“Christmas is the beginning. Easter is the culmination—the joyous, happiest victorious ending.” Land said. “Jesus has conquered death for all who believe in Him and trust Him for salvation. Easter is supreme. He is risen. He is risen, indeed. This is the true message of Easter—a love that was willing to come and die on the cross that we might be liberated from the curse of sin and condemnation and be resurrected to newness of life.”
For 27 years, SES has existed to equip students and ministry leaders to share the Gospel from an intelligent, informed and rational biblical worldview. Courses, conferences, seminars, guest speakers and more seek to accomplish this longstanding mission. Central to this purpose is the provision of a biblical basis and an academic understanding of believers’ commitment to Christ. Therefore, SES seeks to provide an educational opportunity where the Christian worldview is both a framework for thinking and a dynamic for living.