The two biggest Christian holidays of the year are Christmas and Easter. And each year as each of them approach, I find myself wondering which one is most important, which one should we celebrate most. Of course in our culture, Christmas gets the most hype and the most lead time, beginning these days with Halloween (not a Christian holiday). But which one our culture considers more worthy of celebrating is no indicator of which one God thinks is most important.
In fact, all of the events of Jesus’ life, his birth (Christmas), his sinless life, his death (Good Friday), his resurrection (Easter), his ascension (Ascension Day), and the sending of his Holy Spirit (Pentecost), whether we celebrate them or not, are equally important and absolutely essential to God’s plan to redeem people and restore the earth. If any one of those events were missing, redemption could not happen, there would be no salvation.
If God the son had not been born into the world as the baby Jesus, then none of the other events would’ve taken place. But if he had been born but had not lived a sinless life, then his death could only have been for his own sins and not ours. And if he had lived a sinless life but had not died as our sacrifice, the Earth would have experienced a divine visitation but there would be no forgiveness of sin. And if he had died sacrificially but had not risen from the grave, then he would be just a dead martyr and unable to give LIFE to anyone. And if he rose from the grave never to die again but did not ascend to the right hand of the Father, he would be with us but not in us and access to him would be extremely limited. And if he ascended to the Father but did not send his Holy Spirit to us, there would be no transforming or restoring power in us or on the earth and things would remain pretty much the same as they were before he came. His redemptive plan would have failed.
But his plan has not failed. None of the pieces are missing or incomplete. Jesus’ last words from the cross were a shout of triumphant completion, “It is finished!” His plan is complete and it’s working. Over the last 2000 years billions of people have been redeemed and transformed because God’s plan is working. And God’s plan is moving us toward the day when, at the return of Jesus, the full global, planetary impact of his plan will be realized.
So which is greater, Christmas or Easter? Neither. Both. Because both actually celebrate not just a single event of his plan, but the whole of his plan. Both deserve over-the-top celebration of the truth that God so loved the world that he sent his son so that the world might be saved through him.