Sunday, March 23, 2008

True Meaning Of Easter

In our contemporary culture, Easter has largely been relegated to being a festival of Spring, eggs, chicks, rabbits and the generic rejoicing of new life. While in themselves nice things, yet, as Christians have we also allowed these themes to express our own understanding of the resurrection of Christ? We confess in the Creed our belief that Jesus was "crucified, died and buried." True enough.

We also confess that Jesus also "rose again on the third day." Also, spectacularly true! Alleluia!

However, there is this phrase in the Creed that lies between the two phrases quoted above. These words; "he descended to the dead" (or into hell). What are we to make of the apostolic church having included this phrase as an essential, core belief of Christianity? Essential enough to include the truth that Jesus "descended to the dead"? To understand this is to grasp a much greater truth of Easter and why this feast is to be seen as the greatest Feast of all. Jesus certainly did not descend into hell to suffer, nor did he descend to merely proclaim his victory over the devil. There are even greater things here.

Notice in the icon depiction that Jesus extends his hands to Adam and Eve, pulling them from death. Contemplate that in the resurrection, Jesus has destroyed death, broken down the gates of Hell, and defeated the Devil. The victory of the empty tomb is the victory of Christ over sin, death and the devil. The victory was total, complete and death was plundered. Hallelujah.

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