Why Easter Is the Greatest Holiday of All Time

By Published on March 30, 2024

From the beginning of recorded history, mankind has suffered injustice, wars, and genocides. In response, people sought refuge, solace, and meaning by turning to prophets and teachers. Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity, Islam, and other religions were all founded to provide direction and meaning in an uncertain, harsh, and temporal world.

But among those, only Christianity has a founder who professed to be the Messiah — the Son of God.

Christ is also the only figure in recorded history who was widely preannounced, starting a thousand years before he was born, with more than 100 prophetic accounts from 18 different prophets between the 10th and the 4th centuries BC — predicting the specifics of His coming birth, life, and death (recorded in the Old Testament). Hundreds of years later, the details of Christ’s birth, life, betrayal, and death validated those prophecies in astonishingly accurate and minute detail. In fact, King David of Israel prophetically wrote about the crucifixion of Christ a few hundred years before crucifixion was invented as a means of execution.

It turns out that Easter, which is rooted in the resurrection, is one of ancient history’s most scrutinized and best-attested events.

Christ Came to Die

The Easter weekend starts with Good Friday: the day of the crucifixion, when God sacrificed his only Son, Jesus Christ, to fulfill His plan to provide salvation for mankind, who otherwise would be doomed to perdition due to the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Easter Sunday is the celebration of Christ’s resurrection (the third day after His death by crucifixion).

Every other religious founder in history— such as Abraham, Moses, Buddha, and Mohammad — came into the world to live. Their work ended with their deaths. But Christ came into the world to die, and His sacrifice was the ultimate climax of His life, done for the benefit of all mankind — opening the way to eternal life and a full relationship with God for anyone who wants one.

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What also makes Christianity unique and inviting is there is no “entry” requirement of imperatives, rules, or rituals to join Christ’s family. All other religions have formalities and “works” that must be performed to qualify. Christ accepts us just as we are; we need only acknowledge why we need Him and invite Him to come into our lives in order to experience that acceptance.

Only Christianity Claims Its Founder Is Still Alive

There is no record of other religious founders and leaders showing love and compassion for misfits, outcasts, and the immoral, healing the physically afflicted, and casting out demons from the deranged. While the other world religions are built on personalities, only Christianity claims its founder is still alive, having overcome death through resurrection. No Jew has ever believed that after Abraham died and was interred, his tomb became empty. After Buddha died, no disciple claimed that he or she saw or spoke to him again. As for Mohammed, the founder of Islam, there is no trace of his appearing to his followers after he died. His occupied tomb is in Saudi Arabia, and is visited by tens of thousands of devout Muslim pilgrims every year.

In his three-year public ministry, Jesus not only taught truth but modeled God’s love in unprecedented ways. And historical records tell us that for forty days after His death, He appeared to and interacted with hundreds of people. The resurrection is central to God’s providence because it provided “seeing is believing” evidence of God bringing Jesus the savior back from dead in a tomb to being alive.

The New Testament provides accounts from multiple sources who witnessed Jesus firsthand after the resurrection. Jesus made at least 10 separate appearances to His disciples between the resurrection and His ascension into Heaven over a period of 40 days. Some of those appearances were to individual disciples, some were to several disciples, and one was to some 500 at one time.

It turns out that Easter, which has its ultimate meaning in the resurrection, is one of ancient history’s most scrutinized and best-attested events.

Particularly noteworthy is that there are no accounts of witnesses who disputed these appearances or called them a “hoax.” Not a single one. Nor do we find any historical record of any witness accounts that were contradictory.

Much More Reliable Historical Evidence for Jesus Than Other Leading Historical Figures

While some are skeptical of the biblical Jesus, there’s far more reliable historical evidence for His life, teachings, miracles, death, and resurrection than for other leading historical figures of ancient times, such as literary greats Virgil and Horace and military-kings like Alexander the Great. The veracity of ancient history revolves around three things: the number of eyewitness accounts, the lapse of time between those events and the written record, and the number of surviving manuscripts of that record.

No one doubts Virgil and Horace lived and composed great poetic masterpieces a few decades before Christ, although the manuscripts of their works were written more than 400 years after they died. No one doubts the life and accomplishments of Alexander the Great in the fourth century BC, even though there are only two original biographers of his life, Arrian and Plutarch, who wrote their accounts some 400 years after Alexander’s death.

However, the eyewitness accounts of Jesus were written within a generation of His life. And there are about a thousand times more manuscripts that preserve His deeds and teachings in the New Testament (about 25,000 total) than there are preserving other classical works of historic figures who lived at the same time (with the exception of Homer, whose Iliad is backed by 1,800 manuscripts). But that is still less than one-tenth the number of ancient manuscripts that back the authenticity of the New Testament.

We know the historical Jesus through four different accounts known as the gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Most of these men met Jesus personally and wrote their accounts within a generation or two after His crucifixion. Apostles Matthew and John provide eyewitness accounts from their years of walking with Jesus as disciples. Mark also had eyewitness experience, although he was only a teenager when Jesus began His public ministry. Luke, a doctor, learned about Jesus from his friend Paul, the apostle who wrote the most letters in the New Testament.

The Apostles Were in a Unique Position 

Because of their experience with the resurrected Jesus, the apostles knew with certainty that Jesus was truly the Son of God. They were present for His life, ministry, miracles, death, and resurrection. If the claims about Jesus were a lie, the apostles would have known it. That is why their commitment to their testimony was so powerful and compelling.

Additionally, their willingness to die for their claims has tremendous evidentiary value, also confirming the truth of the resurrection. No one will die for something he invented or believes to be false.

Seeing, talking to, and touching the risen Jesus transformed the apostles, who then committed the rest of their lives to spreading the message of salvation through Christ. Eleven of the twelve apostles were martyred for their beliefs in His divinity. The twelfth, John, was exiled to the Greek island Patmos, where he recorded the Book of Revelation.

While the mind can recognize the truth of the story of Jesus, God’s course from the cross through the resurrection and beyond is the transformation of the human heart, captured in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Easter is the commemoration and celebration of the single event — God’s loving sacrifice for us — that has more power to transform the human heart for good and love than anything else.

 

Scott Powell is senior fellow at the Institute for Faith and Culture and senior fellow at the Discovery Institute. His recent book, Rediscovering America, was #1 new release in history for eight straight weeks at Amazon. Reach him at [email protected]

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