Ever since I started my working life, I’ve loved Easter because it was the time of year when you could potentially use just eight days annual leave but get 16 days of holiday! I used to tell people about this great opportunity all the time: you could say that I was evangelistic about the annual leave benefits of Easter. This was all before I became a Christian.
I still remember my first Easter Sunday as a Christian, my Mum sent me a text saying “Hallelujah, He is risen!” It was the first time that message had meant something to me. It was the first Easter that I started to relate the holiday of Easter with the events at the heart of the good news, the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Only 55% of Brits associate Jesus with Easter
In 2017, YouGov research revealed that only 55% of Brits associate Jesus with Easter, and are much more likely to link Easter with chocolate. This doesn’t surprise me, given that I think we live in a post-Christian country, where religious literacy levels are quite low. However, it does raise questions around to what extent do we see Easter as an opportunity to share the good news of the death and resurrection of Jesus.
In the same way that people do not associate Jesus with Easter, many do not link Christianity with someone who could transform their life.
When you read a biography of someone’s life, the attention given to their death is often just a few pages. However, the gospel writers devote such a large amount of their writings to Jesus’ death and resurrection that Martin Kähler described Mark’s gospel as a passion narrative with an extended introduction. The heart of the good news that the gospel writers announced is the news of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Yet in the same way that people do not associate Jesus with Easter, many do not link Christianity with someone who could transform their life.
What do I mean by this?
Last year I was involved in a series of evenings in a local pub, where someone would share their story and with people and then we’d discuss questions that came up from that testimony. As part of this, my friend Jason and I, got chatting to a guy called Wolf about his life. During this conversation, Wolf explained that he was interested in spirituality and exploring the meaning of life, but he had nowhere to ask those kinds of questions. It was as Wolf described this, that it dawned on me afresh: many people do not connect the message of Christianity with something that could answer their questions about life and meet their deepest needs.
It's important to share stories of how Jesus’ death and resurrection is still changing the lives of people around the UK today.
So, whilst I think it is vital that we use Easter to witness about how, empowered by the Spirit, Jesus suffered a painful and shameful death for you and me, then rose three days later, by God’s Spirit, to demonstrate his victory over death for all – it’s also important to share stories of how Jesus’ death and resurrection is still changing the lives of people around the UK today.
Through combining the historic facts of the Christian faith with personal stories of Jesus’ transforming power, we help to witness to the truth that this Easter, we do not celebrate the acts of an historic figure, rather we worship a Lord and Saviour who has conquered death and is alive and active today!