By Hank Hanegraaff

While Christmas is commonly regarded as the high- light of the Christian calendar, it is Easter that deserves our utmost consideration. Without the resurrection of Jesus, there is little point in discussing His birth. “If Christ has not been raised,” said Paul, “our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (1 Corinthians 15:14). Thus, the body of Christ annually initiates its resurrection celebration on Clean Monday (in the East) or Ash Wednesday (in the West). Thereafter Christians engage in the forty days of Lent, culminating in Holy Week.

The first day of the Great Lent initiates a spirit of repentance and forgiveness. As the Orthodox sing, “The springtime of the Fast has dawned; the flower of repentance has begun to open.” Western Christians in turn inaugurate the day of ashes by marking their foreheads with the sign of the cross. As Daniel did, they turn to the Lord God, pleading with Him “in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes” (Daniel 9:3).

Furthermore, during Easter, Christians celebrate the Great Lent itself. This is forty days (not including the Lord’s Day on which His glorious resurrection is remembered) during which there is a rekindled devotion to the principles of the kingdom—including prayer, fasting, and almsgiving; repentance leading to forgiveness; and recommitment to loving the Lord our God with all our heart and mind and loving our neighbor as yourself. All of this together is but preparation for the feast of Christ’s resurrection, which in turn is emblematic of our being raised with Him in newness of life on the day of His second appearing.

Finally, Easter is the commemoration of Holy Week beginning with Palm Sunday, which memorializes Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. On Maundy Thursday (Mandatum novum do vobis, “a new commandment I give you”), Christians pray, partake of communion, and even wash one another’s feet in humble obedience to the command of Christ: “As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34). Good Friday is a time of somber reflection on Christ’s death and burial—a remembrance that our Lord suffered on the cross more than any human, more than the cumulative sufferings of all humanity, so that we might experience life “to the full” (John 10:10). On Saturday evening or early Sunday morning, Christians worldwide gather in glorious certainty that as the sun dawns in the east, so the Son of glory has risen from the dead.

Easter traditionally culminates with a congregational feast in joyous expectation of the wedding supper of the Lamb. There is no wedding without a bridegroom, no redemption apart from the risen Redeemer, and no renewal of cosmos and creature apart from resurrection. And “blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” (Revelation 19:9).

If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.

But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

1 Corinthians 15:13–20 NKJV

See also, “Resurrection: What are Memorable Keys to the Greatest FEAT in History?”

**Note the preceding text is adapted from a new Revised and Updated version of The Complete Bible Answer Book that is forthcoming. When available we will update this page with corresponding information. Until then you can still purchase or receive for your partnering gift the current version by clicking here for purchase or here for partnering gift. ***