Passion Week is now upon us. During this week we will take time to remember the days that led up to the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord. Of the many holy days (holidays) that we celebrate as Christians, there is no day more important than Easter Sunday. Sure, you could say that without Christmas there would be no Easter. However, Scripture and the history of Christianity shout out that Easter is the chief of special days on our calendar.
While the four Gospels only contain two infancy narratives, they each contain an account of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Further, the shear amount of space devoted to the Passion Week in contrast to the nativity speaks to God’s (the author behind the authors) intent that we would place more emphasis on the death and resurrection of Jesus than on His birth. If you read beyond the Gospels you will see that the New Testament continues to pay only scant attention to Jesus’ birth while repeatedly referring to His death and resurrection.
There is good reason why the Scriptures place so much emphasis on the events of that final week in Jesus’ earthly life. Our salvation is undeniably connected to those events. Jesus died for our sins. He took the Father’s wrath upon Himself for us. He rose from the dead conquering death so that we too could conquer death and have eternal life. Without the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ we would all still be lost in our sins and under condemnation. But, thanks be to God, that He “…so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV).
So, why is it that we seem to give Christmas so much more attention than Easter? In response, I think it is important to point out that churches do still give proper respect to the Easter Holy Day. Many churches will have special activities or worship services planned for the week and the worship services on Easter Sunday are typically the most beautiful of the year.
However, the same cannot be said about our culture in general. While it is seemingly easy to capitalize on Christmas, this does not necessarily hold true with Easter. At Christmas time there are pictures of a jolly Santa Claus and a cute baby in a manger along with sales advertisements and other enticements to lure consumers into spending money. It seems easy for merchandisers to separate the Christmas holiday from its root in Jesus’ birth. But, when it comes to Easter there are no cute pictures and jolly, chubby guys in red suits. The imagery of Easter and the week leading up to that day is that of a crucified Savior dying for the sins of the world, being buried in a tomb, and rising from the dead. And, as Paul told us under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit centuries ago, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18 NIV), and “but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles” (1 Cor. 1:23 NIV).