What does Easter mean to you?

Published 3:51 pm Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Bunnies, colored eggs, lots of candy, family gatherings, great food… oh, and going to church?

This day is the day that more people go to church than any other day of the year. Even Christmas church attendance falls slightly behind the numbers that flock to church on Easter Sunday. This is according to several studies conducted on both sides of the Atlantic by various denominations including the Church of England, the Catholic Church and North American Mission Board (NAMB)

Results from a survey conducted by NAMB from March 22 to March 26, 2007, reveal that 75 percent of Americans believe in the Biblical account of Jesus literally coming back to life in his physical body. “In fact, the survey question read: ‘The Bible and the Christian faith claim that on the first Easter Sunday, the physical body of Jesus came back to life after being dead since his crucifixion on the previous Friday. Do you believe Jesus literally rose from the dead?’”

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The study supports the assumption that born again Christians believe in the resurrection of Jesus, and the 75 percent includes those who rarely (59 percent) or never (30 percent) attend church. The margin of error is +/-2.9 percent.

The NAMB survey went on to ask respondents if the recent documentary “The Lost Tomb of Christ” had any influence upon their beliefs. Surprisingly, “familiarity with the documentary had no impact on the public view of the resurrection.” About 75 percent of those familiar with, as well as about 75 percent of those unfamiliar with the show that aired on Discovery Channel believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus.

The documentary did not change their minds, but did have one impact. When asked if they would be more or less likely to go to church on Easter Sunday after watching the show, 35 percent said they were more likely to attend and 7 percent said it would decrease the likelihood of attendance.

The trends for church attendance are decreasing says a study by George Barna of the Barna Group which is an independent research firm. Fewer young people are attending regularly, according to a study conducted by the Church of England in 2005, although the trends for Easter attendance has steadily risen since 2000.

A press release from retail store Somerfield said, “Brits are set to spend a massive £520 million on Easter eggs this year — but many young people don’t even know what Easter’s all about.” That statement appeared in a promotion on Tuesday to sell more chocolate eggs.

The promo ad stated “the giving of Easter eggs celebrated the birth of Christ.”

Shortly after that release, a correction was released stating that instead of “birth of Christ” it should have read “rebirth of Christ”. Finally, a third one was released stating “resurrection of Christ.” This was after Somerfield consulted with the Church of England. Pete Williams, head of PR at Somerfield, said: “We spoke to the Church of England press office, who suggested we use the word resurrection, in keeping with the Church’s teaching. We were happy to do that.”

For people all around the world, Easter centers around Christ and is celebrated in many different ways: From egg hunts, to fuzzy chicks and baby bunnies to pomp and ceremony replete with astounding architecture like St. Peter’s Basilica.

Billy Graham once said at one of his crusades, “The truth of the event does not depend upon whether you believe it happened, but your life depends upon the truth of the event.”

What do eyewitnesses say happened that week of Passover in Jerusalem 2000 years ago?

The Hebrew calendar was not like our calendar today. The month was Nisan and on Sunday, the 11th of Nisan, Jesus was walking up from Bethany and cursed a fig tree for having no fruit. That same day, he cleansed the Temple of moneychangers.

“Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? But ye have made it a den of thieves,” he said, Mark testifies.

On Nisan 12, Monday, the feast was two days away and the priests were plotting to kill Jesus. Mark 14:1-2. Jesus was in Bethany and Mary poured expensive, scented oil on him causing consternation among the disciples, especially Judas, who storms out and betrays Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.

Tuesday, Nisan 13, Jesus tells two disciples to go to the city and meet the man bearing a pitcher of water, follow him to the upper room prepared for them. Mark 14:13-15. That evening, he and his disciples had the last supper. In Hebrew time, the new day begins at 6 p.m. The Last Supper was actually eaten on Nisan 13.

Jesus washes their feet saying, “If I don’t wash you, you have no part with Me.” John 13:8

He was betrayed by Judas. He was beaten by the Romans. He was crucified: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John testify.

On the third day, he rose from the dead leaving an empty tomb and more than 500 eye witnesses attested to this. Seventy-five percent of the respondents believe this is so. Billy Graham said truth does not depend upon belief.

His resurrection is the best attested event in history, due to numerous eye witness accounts including the four Gospels in the Bible. Easter marks the day Christ rose from the dead. If it were false, then the Gospels and Christianity would never have mastered the test of time.