One of the millions of discussions Russ and I had regarded which of the two main Christian holidays we considered to be the most important (I think it was about three or four years ago). His was Christmas and, knowing how much I loved the Christmas season, he was more than a little shocked when I told him I thought Easter was the most important.
When he asked me why, I told him that it was because Easter is the day that we celebrate Jesus’ atonement and resurrection from the dead. He rebutted with the fact that without Christmas, there would have been no resurrection. If nothing else, I always try to be honest, so I had to tell him that he was right – on that point. But, I also had to say that everybody has a birthday, including him; my next question knocked him for a loop, as we used to say: If Jesus hadn’t atoned for our sins in the Garden of Gethsemane and risen from the dead, would we celebrate his birthday now, two thousand years later? He just stared at me for a long moment, and then walked away, shaking his head and muttering.
But who is this Jesus, this man of Nazareth, who lived so many years ago? The prophet Isaiah said: “He is despised and rejected of men…But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes, we are healed.”1 An angel said at his birth: “Fear not, for behold I bring you glad tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people, for unto you is born this day, in the city of Judah, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” 2
For me, Jesus is my oldest brother, my very best friend, the world’s best friend—He is there for all. He is the most generous, because he was willing to give his life, so that we could have the chance to return to live with Him and our Heavenly Father. He lived a mortal life so that he could better understand our trials and joys, so he could help us overcome our grief and celebrate our joys with us. He loves us and wants us to be there with him. With the atonement, he brought eternal life to those who believe I him and do his will; with the resurrection, he overcame death so that all might live. ‘'
I believe that he will come again and at that he will live on the Earth for a thousand years.
He was also a historical figure, and was spoken of by Tacitus, Flavius, Pliny the younger, and Josephus, as well as the Talmud. None of these sources were Christian, but they attest that he did indeed live on the earth. And they spoke of the mystical powers attributed to him by his followers.3
Whether you believe or not in the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth, I wish you all a blessed Easter of Peace and Joy.
Painting: The Second Coming, by Harry Anderson
©Copyright “J” is for Jesus of Nazareth, Mary Purpari, 10 April 2014