Konyi John Aluwe
Alleluia: Christ, the Passover Lamb, sacrificed for us, is risen!
In most African countries, three festivals are important. These are Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and Easter. Amongst the three, Christianity derives its power and meaning from Easter. This is commonly referred to as “Pascha.” That is the Christian understanding of the Passover, which is clearly understood as Christ being the paschal lamb who had been sacrificed for our sins. Originally that was only Easter Sunday, however, it was modified especially during the fourth century to “triduum” of a three-day celebration of Friday -Saturday -Sunday. This is the commemoration of the climax of Christ’s atoning work from his death to resurrection. Between the death of Christ and his Ascension into heaven, is the important event of his glorious Resurrection. The Resurrection of Christ, a central doctrine of Christianity, is because Jesus Christ rose from the dead on the third day after His Crucifixion and that through his conquering of death all believers will subsequently share in his victory over sin, death, and the devil. During Easter Sunday, the celebrative seasonal salutation is “He has risen as he said” and the reply is”, alleluia.” The greeting gives the celebrative redemptive meaning of Christ to humanity in the fallen world. Apart from that, Easter is a very central theme for differentiating Christianity from other religions, especially in relation to soteriology as follows:
First, Easter is a reminder of the agape love of God to the lost humanity in sin. This he demonstrated through the incarnation. The act of God whereby he took to himself a human nature and identified with us as a perfect firstborn. During Easter, as a Pastor, I remind the church that if Jesus had not been a man, he could not have died in our place and paid the penalty due to us.
In Uganda, the word mostly used for Easter is “Pascha.” Christ is the Passover lamb, sacrificed for us as mentioned above. The climax of the penalty for us is the death and burial of our Lord, then the resurrection ….So, God thought of us as going through everything that Christ went through because he was our representative. Therefore, Easter is the celebration of that grace offered to the Church for the penalty of sin being paid by Christ. When our Lord and Savior obeyed, we are thought of as having obeyed. According to Romans 5:19, he became our righteous and the source therein (1Cor.1:30; Phil. 3:9). This deeply portrayed the uniqueness of Jesus Christ which illustrates his vocation, mission, and ministry as the appointed firstborn of many.
Second, Easter is a reminder that He rose from the tomb and triumphed over death. This is the evangelism power that turns the sinners to repent. The heartbroken disciples of a crucified Lord into being the courageous witnesses and martyrs of the early Ugandan church and the Christians today. This fact of the resurrection of Christ separates his followers from other religions and turns them into the community of the resurrection. This gave power to Christians during the persecution of Idi Amin Dada. He imprisoned them, flogged them, killed them. But their conviction was that “on the third, he rose again,” therefore, they could endure the shame. The Resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the very cornerstone of Christianity.
Third, Easter reminds all Christians about the third, which has in most countries become the day of worship. As J. I. Packer asks, “suppose that Jesus, having died on the cross, had stayed dead…. Would it matter? The most direct answer would be that Christianity would be like other world religions. “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile, and you are still in your
sins” (1 Cor. 15:17). Also, there would be no hope for our future: no rising from dead, remaining dead for eternity. But Easter reminds us of the point of his rising. The rising of Jesus from the dead, therefore, gives me assurance that Jesus is the Son of God (Rom. 1:4). It vindicated his righteousness (john 16:10); it demonstrated victory over death (Acts 2:24), guarantees our salvation, we are indeed forgiven and justified (1Cor. 15:17; Romans 4:25). I am affirmed of the reality of resurrection life now (Rom.6:4).
Therefore, “the resurrection of Christ is the chief article of our faith, and without it the hope of eternal life fails.” The Calvin understanding of the utter importance of resurrection which marks the centrality of Easter as seen in the Book of Acts of the Apostles, we see two simple and incontrovertible facts: First, the Christian society was gathered by preaching; Second, the substance of the preaching was the resurrection of Jesus Christ ... The apostolic church is thus a result of Easter.
Without the Resurrection of Christ, our faith and hope would all have been in vain. During challenges confronting the church, we can hope on the Resurrection of Christ, in that because He lives so also shall we live. Through the crucifixion of Jesus on Golgotha, sin was wiped out and death overpowered; through his Resurrection, virtue was restored, and life was raised up, to facilitate God’s power and effectiveness in us. Indeed, through the death and Resurrection of Christ, we find our flawless salvation.
(Konyi John Aluwe)